And the winner is…

Posted on by Taylor Moellers

Thanks to ERGY, I am able not only to set my thermostat anytime, anywhere, but I can also see how those settings effect my energy usage and ultimately how many dollars I am spending to keep cool and comfortable this summer. As we found out in the previous blog, my roommate Pat and I are in a disagreement over the thermostat settings. I decided to find out just how much my preference for cooler temperatures is costing us.

I opted to start with the low end setting of 73°F – that way I’d be home in New Jersey for at least the last day or two of the 78°F period. Pat claims to enjoy the higher temperatures anyway, so leaving him to “enjoy” the last couple 78°F days in our apartment alone should really be seen as a gift from me. What can I say? I have a kind heart. I used the Vera Mobile app on my iPhone to set my thermostat to 73°F for 4 days, and then 78°F for another 4 days.

It was never a question of if setting the AC to a higher temperature would save money, but how much? The 73°F setting cost our apartment $2.58 per day ($10.31 over a four day period). The 78°F setting cost $1.59 per day ($6.34 four-day total). According to this experiment, setting the thermostat to 78°F (as opposed to 73°F) saved us almost $1 per day. While $1 does not seem like much, in actuality, assuming a similar cost savings over the course of the year, you’re saving $365 per year!

Thermostat Setting


Cost per Day ($)



















* It’s important to note, the average recorded outside high for the 73°F test period was 92.5°F, as opposed to 86.75°F for the 78°F period. This arguably skewed the cost savings in the DOE and Pat’s favor a little more.

With an energy savings of $365, you could afford to get started on your own home energy management system. For approximately $60 more, you can get:

Mi Casa Verde VeraLite Home Controller - $179

Honeywell Z-Wave Enabled Programmable Thermostat - $146

Aeon Labs Z-Wave Smart Energy Monitor - $100

Sure, there are still a few other components you will need: most importantly an ERGY subscription. You can also get additional switches, plugs, and outlets.

Currently, I have two Smart Switches (Mi Casa Verde SmartSwitch - $54): one on my fridge and one on my entertainment center. I also have an outlet and a dimmer light switch. And now that we have the ability to dim those lights, we actually use them!

 As a broke graduate student, I definitely appreciate a good cost savings. Since I’ve already been set up with a home energy management system, I can use that $365 for flight home from Denver to Philadelphia for Christmas! With that said, this isn’t an all-out victory for Pat. The couple days I spent inside my apartment in Denver at 78°F were not comfortable. Simple tasks like making lunch (sans oven!) and vacuuming caused me to break out in a sweat. But I will admit the lure of saving a few hundred bucks has tempted me to negotiate a bump up from 73°F.

We’ve negotiated a setting of 75°F when one or both of us is in the house. As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I’m currently visiting family and friends in and around New Jersey. It’s hard for me to admit, but after living with my hot-blooded roommate for a couple months, my parent’s 70°F thermostat setting is actually giving me goose bumps. Who knows? Maybe I would have enjoyed the 78°F after a few more months of torture… I mean roommate bliss.

Comfort is a funny thing. It’s so personal to each of us. And, as shown by my new-found need for a sweatshirt and socks at Mom and Dad’s, our preferences change.

My next move is to use ERGY to create “scenes,” or program the thermostat to keep the apartment at different temperatures during the day. Pat and I have negotiated to 75°F, but that doesn’t mean we need to keep it at 75°F when we’re not in the house. Using ERGY, we can set the temperature at 78°F while we are both out of the house (work hours), 75°F when we are home, and perhaps a few degrees lower at night for optimum sleeping comfort. I can also use ERGY to set my lights to come on during specific times of the day. We’ll try this out with my new table lamp — you know you’re an adult when home furnishings literally and figuratively “brighten” your day!

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