'Learning' thermostats help save on heating bills

Charlotte (WBTV)  If you ask the field experts at One Hour Air Conditioning and Heating what they think of the new 'learning thermostats', they sing their praises. "There's no way for me to explain how important it is to go from an old mercury style thermostat or even just the digital kind, up to one of these learning programmable hi  efficiency thermostats.  You're talking about saving a ton of money," said Joshua Allen who has worked on heating systems for over 12 years.

The premise of these 'learning thermostats', some with motion sensors, is to heat and cool your home when you're actually there.  They save on energy by not running your system when there is no one home to enjoy the warmth or cool air.

These thermostats vary in price and technology.  I got to see a Honeywell in action in the offices at One Hour Air Conditioning.  Using his smart phone, Allen was able to turn on and off the system, raise the temp, lower the temp and check on his energy usage.   "You just move this temp up, hit submit and watch as the home thermostat raises the temp to your specifications," Allen told me.

I went to Lowe's to check out the learning thermostats there.  I discovered a long-term Lowe's employee installed the 'original learning thermostat' The Nest in his home.  It is a simple design, a round thermostat that has a dial and motion sensor at the center of its technology.

Stan McAdams has seen a lot of gadgets and technology on the shelves of Lowe's, but purchasing The Nest, he said,  has been one of his smartest decisions.  He says he's already seeing a big savings on his energy bill.  "I'm averaging between 34 and 42 dollars, last month it was 42 dollars difference over last year. "

The Nest will even email you and tell you how much energy you've used, when were your peak usage times, and even suggests ways to make your system run more efficiently.

When it comes to installing these new 'learning thermostats, and programmable thermostats' Joshua Allen says they can be tricky and one wrong wire attachment could cause major problems to your system.

Stan did install his Nest, but said he did need assistance over the phone from the help line to make sure he had all the wires where they should be.  McAdams believes that the investment of $229.00 could be recouped before the year is out.

So if you are willing to make an out-of-pocket expenditure to save over the long-term, consider upgrading your HVAC thermostat to one that 'learns' what you like.