We’ve been talking a lot lately about the future of smart homes that give consumers the ability to control all of their home’s systems from their mobile devices. Networking all your systems together into a central control system makes a house more energy efficient because the systems communicate with one another to avoid using energy when it is unnecessary. But now there is a study out that shows these systems also makes homeowners more inclined to actually use their energy saving features.

Programmable thermostats have been around for some time, but surveys have shown that only about 10 percent of consumers use the programming features to automatically adjust temperatures during certain parts of the day.

However, consumers who have a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat – allowing control of the thermostat from any PC or mobile device – used the programming features of the thermostat 85 percent of the time. EnergyHub, the maker of the Wi-Fi thermostat used in the study, attributes the high usage rates to the thermostat’s interface.

“We’re not changing the way the thermostat works. We’re getting it to do what it was designed to do 30 years ago,” EnergyHub CEO Seth Frader-Thompson said. “An easier interface is a huge part of it.”

By taking the same technology used today, integrating it with the devices consumers use most often, and giving it an easier-to-use interface, consumers are more inclined to take advantage of energy-saving features. Perhaps this is really what homes and people need today. They don’t need new technology… they need something to make the existing technology in the home easier to use. If the technology were easier to use, perhaps it would be used more often, making us all more efficient.