The cost of living is pretty high these days, especially when it comes to heating or cooling your home. Reducing your consumption is a great way to save on energy costs, but that’s not always easy to do. A smart thermostat is one way to make it easier, and can save you between 15 and 20 percent on your home heating and cooling bills.
Smart thermostats are designed to do all the work for you. Just program the optimum temperature inside your home and the smart thermostat ensures that it stays that way. You can also set a schedule that changes the temperature depending upon if you are home or not. And the beauty of it all is that you can also control it all remotely using an app on your smart phone, tablet or computer.
Not all smart thermostats offer the same options and features. It takes a bit of research to know which model fits into your lifestyle and needs.
We feature four smart thermostats you can purchase online. Read on to see which one is right for you.
Top Pick Most Versatile: Google Nest Learning Thermostat
If you’re the kind of person who wants the latest version of all things electronic, then the 3rd generation of this smart thermostat may be what you are looking for to control the heating and cooling of your home, among other things.
This programmable smart thermostat from Google learns your schedule and the temperatures you like and programs itself to help you save energy and stay comfortable. You can control it from anywhere with the Nest app, and it works with Alexa and Google Assistant so you can adjust the temperature with your voice.
The home/away assist automatically adjusts itself to an Eco Temperature after you leave, so you’re not heating or cooling an empty home and wasting precious energy. And as a cute reminder, the Nest Leaf icon appears on your thermostat to let you know when you select an energy-saving temperature.
Tracking and changing your home’s temperature is so easy. A remote control allows you or any member of your family to change the temperature from anywhere using a cellphone, laptop or tablet and with the energy history feature, you can easily check your phone to see how much energy you have used, and why. Or, you can use the Quick View option on the display of the thermostat to see the energy history, settings or your schedule.
Other cool features include Farsight, a new generation 3 application where the Nest Thermostat lights up when it sees you coming from across the room and then shows you useful things like the temperature you’ve set, the current room temperature, the time, or the outside weather. You get to choose what you’ll see.
With a beautifully designed, polished metal finish and a bright, high-resolution display, this smart thermostat is easy to install in 30 minutes or less and is compatible with 95 percent of home heating and cooling systems.
- Learns your schedule and the temperatures you like and programs itself
- Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
- Home/away assist automatically adjusts itself to an Eco Temperature
- Energy history feature
- Easy to install
- 1 CR2 battery included
- Does not usually need a C wire
- May need a C wire for some HVAC systems
- More expensive than other smart thermostats
Top Pick Best Alerts: Honeywell Home RTH9585WF1004 Wi-Fi Smart Color Thermostat
For anyone who is forgetful or absentminded, a smart thermostat that sends out alerts to remind you about what needs to be done or what’s not working well is more than just smart, it’s brilliant, right?
Honeywell Home’s smart thermostat does just that and more. For example, it will let you know when the air filter or humidifier pad needs to be changed. It will also send you temperature change notifications and internet connection alerts and you can view the local weather, either the daily forecast on the screen or a five-day forecast through the app.
Flexible programming options means you can personalize your schedule or follow your utility company’s rate pricing. The monthly energy reports allow you to track your heating and cooling and get personalized tips on reducing energy waste. Simply choose from the Total Connect Comfort app or the Honeywell Home app and you can control your Wi-Fi thermostat anytime, anywhere.
Other fun features that can be easily controlled with a smart phone, tablet or computer include heat and cool with HI/LO settings; language preferences of English, French or Spanish; choice of Celsius or Fahrenheit display; 12 or 24-hour clock; and auto-fan circulation. Compatible with voice assistant devices like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and more.
Oh, and did we mention that you can change the background of the screen to match the color of your walls? Talk about customizable, right?
- Bright, easy-to-read touchscreen for simple operation
- Easy to use app
- Monthly energy reports
- Air filter change reminders, temperature notifications, internet connection alerts
- ENERGY STAR certified
- Does not work with heat pumps with electric baseboard heat (120-240 volts)
- 2 AA batteries required
Top Pick Best Award-Winning: ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control
Some people prefer simplicity; a product with a few features that gets the job done is all they need. But not you. You search for items that go over and above basic features to include worthwhile bells and whistles that not only enhance the experience but also bring it to a whole new level of functionality.
If you are looking for a feature-packed smart thermostat, then this one from ecobee may be for you. Named the Best Smart Thermostat by Tom’s Guide, this award-winning product has a lot going on that will satisfy your desire to be at the top of the smart home thermostat game.
With a crisp glass finish, vivid touch display, powerful quad-core processor, dual-band Wi-Fi, and far-field voice, this is a smart thermostat like no other. Imagine a thermostat that changes the temperature of a room when someone walks into it, and then changes it when they leave? With occupancy detection, the SmartSensor ensures important rooms remain comfortable by adjusting the thermostat based on a room’s occupancy and temperature.
Using Alexa Built-in and an intuitive mobile app, you can control your thermostat and home using your voice, phone, tablet, computer, or Apple Watch. You can ask for the weather, music, Alexa Calling, and more.
This smart thermostat is easy to install yourself in 45 minutes or less with a video walk-through and a step-by-step guide on the ecobee app. Want more good news? The smart thermostat works in harmony with smart home systems including Google Assistant, Apple Home Kit, Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, and IFTTT
- Alexa Built-in
- Works with many smart home systems
- Far-field voice
- More expensive than other smart thermostats
- 1 Lithium metal battery required (included)
Top Pick Best Basic: Vine Smart Wifi 7day/8period Programmable Thermostat Model TJ-225
You don’t have to have a lot of money to save money on your home heating and cooling costs. If you’re looking for an affordable smart thermostat that will do a good job of keeping your home energy efficient, then you may want to consider this model from Vine.
Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google assistant, this smart thermostat lets you control the temperature in your home using your phone, tablet or laptop with the smart Vine app. With an ultra-flexible 7-day, 8-period setting, you can program the thermostat to suit you specific needs.
Installation is not difficult, taking approximately 30 minutes and with no batteries to think about, you don’t have to remember to change them every month or so. This affordable device works with most HVAC equipment such as a 24-VAC system, compatibility chart (24V-AC system), standard two-heat, two-cool system, a heat pump system (with or without emergency heat) and heat or cool only systems.
- Affordable, more than half the price of other models
- Programmable with seven-day, eight-period settings
- Easy to install
- Compatible with Alexa and Google assistant
- Doesn’t have a lot of special features
Things to look out for:
Smart thermostats are a great way to save money on energy bills for your home. Some have many more features than just controlling your home’s temperature. What you decide to choose really comes down to your personal preference and lifestyle. To help you choose, here are some of the more popular features and things to consider.
With all smart thermostats, you can link to the thermostat using a smartphone app. In some cases, the app lets you create a geofence. This acts as an electronic boundary that senses when you are home. It will adjust the thermostat to your comfortable setting when you approach your home and switch the thermostat to an energy-saving setting when you leave. This way, your home’s heating and cooling is adjusted to lower levels when no one is home.
Some of the more expensive, feature-rich smart thermostats have an alert to tell you if the temperature changes in your home when you are away. For example, if the temperature drops below freezing, the pipes in your home can burst, causing a flood. A warning from a smart thermostat alert gives you or a friend the time to go home and check for problems, averting a potential disaster, or in some cases, you can remotely change the temperature using a smartphone app.
Other alerts available with some smart thermostats include reminders to change the air filter or humidifier pad, send you temperature change notifications and internet connection alerts.
Remote temperature adjustment:
Sometimes, especially during very hot or very cold days, you want to come home to rooms that are warmer or colder than normal. Some smart thermostats make it possible to adjust the temperature before you arrive home with the use of an app on your phone or computer.
Color touch screen:
It’s a good idea to choose a smart thermostat with a large display color screen in order to easily read and manage the temperature in your home. If it has a proximity sensor, that’s a bonus so you don’t have to stumble around in the dark if you need to access the thermostat during the night. A proximity sensor will dim when you walk away from the dashboard and light up again when you are within range.
Installation and compatibility:
Before choosing a model, make sure you understand the installation requirements. Many are easy to install, especially for DYIers and the technologically savvy. Find out if you need extra power requirements and if your internet connection is strong enough to establish a wireless connection with other smart devices.
Some smart thermostats use battery power, which means you need to remember to replace them. Dead batteries mean your thermostat will not work. Other models use a C-wire, which delivers continuous power for operating the Wi-Fi.
Finally, make sure the smart thermostat you choose is compatible with your HVAC system.
Not everyone is a tech wizard and no matter how easy the installation, programming and use instructions are, it’s possible that you will have some difficulties. Make sure the model you choose has good tech support, either through an app, video, website, direct communication through a telephone conversation or ideally, all of these options.