Smart Thermostats—Worth the Cost?

With winter on the horizon, landlords and tenants have similar interests in mind—keeping properties warm enough to avoid the hellfire that is frozen or burst pipes. Landlords with properties that experience the cold winter temps especially feel the stress of properties standing empty during that time – college students are back home explaining their grades to parents, tenants are traveling to visit (or avoid) their family members for the holidays, and some properties are simply unoccupied.

All these properties stand at risk for frozen or burst pipes and the ensuing issues – repair costs, water damage, and more. To mitigate potential pipe issues, a rising number of landlords are considering switching from traditional thermostats to smart thermostats.

What are Smart Thermostats?

Smart thermostats are programmable thermostats connected to the internet that allow users to adjust settings from their phones. One major concern, as with any technology, is the eventual obsoletion that most tech products experience, requiring landlords to repurchase updated models every few years. 

So, is it worth the cost to switch from traditional thermostats to a smart thermostat? The short answer is “maybe” and the long answer is “it depends”.

Consider the Costs

Running a simple cost-benefit analysis will enable you to determine whether smart thermostats are worth the cost and the right move for your property. Factor in the cost of purchasing and installing smart thermostats versus the cost of repairing burst pipes and water damage. (Other factors to consider: How many units do you have? How much would repairing frozen pipes cost in your area?)

  1. The average cost of a smart thermostat is $200 (actual price varies by the model) (1).
  2. The life expectancy of the average smart thermostat is around 10 years (2).
  3. The average cost of installing smart thermostats can be $300 (but can also be done yourself with certain models) (3).
  4. Burst pipes and water damage can cause, on average, $15,000 worth of damage to a property (4).

Comparing the potential costs of purchasing and installing smart thermostats to the cost of burst pipes and water damage,  smart thermostats are potentially worth the time and cost.

What Do Tenants Think?

From a tenant’s perspective, smart thermostats are becoming an increasingly popular amenity in rentals. Not only are tenants able to control the temperature from their phones without leaving the comfort of their bed, but they can also set automatic timers, sensors, and individual rooms at different temperatures.

Ultimately, for you as a landlord, installing smart thermostats could cost anywhere from $200-$500 per unit (depending on whether you will require installation). If you divide this number by 10 (for the average number of years a smart thermostat lasts), you have a rough estimate of cost per year.

Comparatively, depending on your insurance and number of tenantless units, frozen pipes could cost you more in the long run due to burst pipes and water damage. Also, consider the selling point of smart thermostats for future tenants – the ability to change and monitor the temperature of your apartment from the comfort of your bed. Who doesn’t love the sound of that?

RentRedi is software made for landlords, with everything you need to manage your rentals. Learn more about our products here.