Smart Thermostats—A Smart Choice for Small Businesses

Maintaining overhead costs is one of the largest financial obligations for a small business. These costs include daily operating costs, such as energy use. According to ENERGY STAR® U.S. small businesses collectively spend a staggering $60 billion on energy each year. And a survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) found that energy costs are a top-three business expense for more than one-third of the nation’s small businesses. For many small businesses, keeping the temperature comfortable is the single largest energy expense.

Being smart about your temperature settings can save you a hefty chunk of energy - and money.

You could take control using a standard programmable thermostat to set a daily pattern, or by manually turning the temperature up or down when you need to. But according to a 2010 survey from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 89 percent of people said they rarely or never used their thermostats to set a weekday or weekend program. The same is true in many small businesses.

But what if your thermostat could adjust your small businesses’ temperature settings automatically?

A smart thermostat does just that, and Consumers Energy’s small business customers are eligible for a $100 instant rebate in our Small Business Marketplace.

What exactly is a ‘smart thermostat’?

1. It’s automatic

A smart thermostat is a device that automatically adjusts the temperature in your small business, according to your needs.

The idea is to run the heating or air conditioning only when you need it, and to turn them up or down when you’re out of the office or closed. This kind of variable pattern is called a setback––and it saves you money.

Some smart devices, like the Nest Learning Thermostat, can learn your team’s daily schedule and adjust the temperature in your small business automatically based on those habits. They work out a schedule that shifts to energy saving temperatures when you’re closed or away.

Others, like the ecobee4, use occupancy sensing technology to ‘watch’ for your team’s motion (or lack of it) in a room. If there’s no movement for a while, they assume you’re out of the office and ‘set back’ your HVAC system accordingly. This can be really helpful with multi-zone heating systems and rooms you might not use all the time, like a conference room or spare office for visiting staff.

Automating energy saving setbacks is what smart thermostats are all about––taking human error (and forgetfulness) out of the control equation.

2. It’s controllable

With a Wi-Fi enabled smart thermostat, you can control the temperature of your small business remotely from your internet-connected mobile device or computer.

So you can save energy by turning down the heat or air conditioning while you and the team are out, and you can make sure the temperature is just right by the time you’re ready to open in the morning.

You can even connect some smart thermostats to automation systems, so when you’re in the office you can control the temperature effortlessly using voice commands from a smart speaker, for example.

3. It keeps you informed with graphs, data and reports

Another bonus of a smart thermostat is the regular energy use reports it provides, which you can monitor and manage to maximize your energy savings. You can even share them with your team to help encourage behavioral changes that could lead to additional savings.

You may also get email alerts when your small business’ temperature falls or rises outside of the ideal range you’ve set. If your thermostat is disconnected from its network––because of a power outage, for example––you can be notified of that, too.

Bottom line

Installing a smart thermostat could bring big savings for your small business—and for the planet.

If everyone in the United States used a smart thermostat, ENERGY STAR estimates that savings would grow to $740 million and 56 trillion BTUs of energy per year, offsetting 13 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Choosing the smart option makes sense, whichever way you look at it.