Smart thermostats are – well – smart. And while they can automatically adjust your home’s temperature based on your needs (or on the fly using an app), there’s one thing they can’t do: stop people from adjusting your thermostat. If a smart thermostat can’t even do this, then you know an old-school thermostat can’t do it either. That is where a thermostat lock box comes in handy.
Whether you run a business or just have kids who love to push buttons (the thermostat’s and yours), a lock box can prevent unwanted tampering and adjustments that can subsequently increase your monthly energy costs.
Who Can Benefit from a Thermostat Lock Box?
Anyone who has a thermostat can benefit from a lock box, but they are more practical in some situations than others.
Lock boxes, or covers, are commonly used in:
- Hotel and office lobbies
- Community centers
- Dorm rooms
- Public areas
Places of business tend to benefit the most from lock boxes because they prevent members of the public from adjusting the temperature without the owner’s or management’s consent.
Landlords may also consider a thermostat guard if utilities are included in the rent and greater control over energy usage is required.
What Types of Lock Boxes Are Available?
A thermostat guard has two primary types of bases: ring and solid.
A ring base is the best option for anyone who already has a thermostat installed and wants to add protection.
A solid base is ideal for anyone who plans on installing protection before they install their new thermostat.
No matter which type of base you choose, the lock box will generally require a key to open it and lock it.
Lock boxes also come in a variety of materials, but the two most common are metal and plastic. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Metal Thermostat Lock Boxes
Metal boxes are:
- Highly durable
- Make it difficult or impossible to see the thermostat
- Come in a variety of colors and sizes
If you’re in need of a highly durable lock box, it doesn’t get much better than a metal protector. The only drawback with this type of guard is that visibility is poor (i.e. you can’t see the temperature). Vented holes are typically present to allow for airflow and an accurate temperature reading.
But to see what the actual temperature in the room is, you’ll need to open the lock box.
Plastic Thermostat Guards
Plastic boxes are:
- Offer clear visibility of the thermostat
- Come in a variety of sizes
A plastic cover is the most common solution and a better option for those who aren’t overly concerned with durability.
Unlike metal covers, plastic boxes allow you to see the thermostat and the current temperature without having to open it up.
Plastic guards also have vents, but they are generally located in the back or the base of the box.
Virtual Lock Boxes
Thus far, we’ve only discussed physical lock boxes, but you’ll also find “virtual” lock boxes. Mostly found on smart models, a lockable thermostat requires a password or code to be entered before any settings can be adjusted.
The Nest offers this feature, and the way it works is pretty simple.
First, you’ll need to set up a Nest account.
Next, you’ll need to enable Thermostat Lock, which will require you to enter a 4-digit pin. That pin will allow you to make adjustments to the thermostat. Anyone without the pin number will be unable to change the temperature or adjust the settings.
A range can be set for the lock feature, so the temperature can only be raised or lowered to a certain degree.
The great thing about Nest’s lock feature is that the pin number will need to be changed each time you re-lock the thermostat.
For landlords with problem tenants, this can be an invaluable feature because tenants will need to figure out the new pin each time you or your property manager come by to adjust the thermostat.
The Benefits of a Thermostat Lock Box
There are many advantages to installing a lock box for your thermostat.
Prevent Tenants from Tampering with the Thermostat
If your building has one thermostat that controls the temperature for all of the units in your building, a lock box can prevent tenants from tampering with the thermostat and potentially costing you more on your energy bills.
Lockout features, like the one on the Nest, tend to be more effective because they require a pin to be entered.
It’s important to note, however, that installing a lockbox onto a thermostat may not be legal in some states. You will need to check with local laws before doing this, and you will also need to ensure that the lockbox is mentioned in your lease agreement.
Prevents Guests or Patrons from Making Unwanted Adjustments
In a place of business, all it takes is a few temperature adjustments from guests, patrons or even workers to send your energy bills through the roof.
Not only can this cost you more, but you also run the risk of your establishment becoming uncomfortable for anyone who enters.
Whether you run a small office, hotel or supermarket, a thermostat guard will save you money while lowering your energy usage. It will also ensure that your establishment is comfortable for all.
Prevents Accidental Tampering at Home
For the everyday homeowner, there really isn’t much benefit to protecting your thermostat – unless you have kids who love to push buttons.
To prevent accidental tampering, a plastic lock box or a lockout feature can help save you on your energy costs and your sanity.
Should you get a thermostat lock box? If you’re a business owner, the answer is a no-brainer: yes. If you’re a landlord, the answer isn’t quite so black and white (i.e. there are legal considerations). And for some homeowners, these boxes are the ideal choice for preventing little fingers from turning your home into a sauna or ice bucket.
One thing is for sure, these boxes help deter tampering to help you save on your energy usage and your monthly bill.