For those of you techies looking to trick out your home with the latest and greatest in comfort – and software! – we’ve compiled a list of the best smart thermostats available today. While thermostats aren’t anything new, smart thermostats are finding their niche in the homes of those looking for the ultimate in comfort, savings, efficiency and design.
For others, smart home technology is something completely new, but certainly something to consider investing in. As home automation paves the way for centralized control of everything in your home – from lighting and HVAC controls, to door locks and security – it’s important to know that its value is not only in technological advancement, but for reducing one’s impact on the environment altogether.
As far as smart thermostats go, customizing a home for optimal conditions has more than a few benefits and figures to be a mainstay as units get cheaper and more efficient. What’s more, you can operate your system from anywhere in the world.
BENEFITS OF A SMART THERMOSTAT
Manage Energy Costs
The thermostat of yesteryear has simply been a means to program your home to operate within a set parameter and it would do that. The best smart thermostats now chart your energy usage, send you high temp alerts and in the case of the Nest thermostat allow for temperature swings to improve efficiency even more! Those savings add up quickly and in many cases, pay off your thermostat in no time.
Program From Anywhere
One of the best features of these new smart thermostats is that you can literally program them from anywhere with your phone, tablet or laptop. You can be driving home at an unexpected hour and literally adjust the temp several miles from home to accommodate your arrival – some units use Geo-fencing to recognize that you’re on your way home and adjust the temp for you!
As mentioned above, with this new type of thermostat you can now minimize energy consumption via charting features. Not only that, most of these smart thermostats have many of the same options that include Forecasting Charts, Over-Temp Alerts, Fully Customizable Displays and a wide array of other cool and useful features.
Discounts From Utility Company
Some of these manufacturers will partner with energy companies and provide you with instant savings or rebates when you buy their unit. Check with your energy provider to see if there is a program offered in your area that could benefit you.
How about having your thermostat understand your tendencies and adjust for them automatically? Certain smart thermostats will recognize that you make adjustments at regular intervals and they’ll automatically learn to program the change for you based on your behaviors. How cool is that?
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A SMART THERMOSTAT
There are several smart thermostat manufacturers vying for a spot in your home and each has its own style and features to try and impress you. Some of them are a little gimmicky, while others are completely useful and in demand from consumers. And with each additional feature you desire comes a price as you can get anything ranging from the basic “no frills” unit at an affordable price, or you can go all in and get all the top of the line features in a beautifully designed package for around $100 more. Some of the main components you may want to consider…
Compatible with iOS and Android
Features, Features, Features
Most of us aren’t contractors or trained electricians – heck, sometimes I can’t even put together a chair from IKEA. Luckily, these smart thermometers come with the simplest installation instructions (often via short videos or easy online manuals). Most people don’t have problems with installation, though checking beforehand if your unit is compatible with your system definitely helps.
One of the main concerns you should have is whether or not your new thermostat is even compatible with your smart phone or device. For example, the Honeywell Lyric listed below is not yet compatible with the Kindle, though you can imagine it will be available in one of its future updates. This, however, normally isn’t an issue since iOS and Android are the two most popular platforms used today. All of the thermostats reviewed below are compatible with both.
Lastly, you’ll want to decide the style that you value and the main features that tickle you the most. Many of these units are elegantly constructed and look stellar on your wall, so there really isn’t too much that differentiates by way of beautiful design. As far as features, we’ve mentioned those in the Benefits section. Do you prefer Energy Charting, High-Temp Alerts, Customizable Screen Display, Geofencing or Motion Sensor capability?
Geofencing vs. Motion Sensor
Geofencing is a technology that a few of the sensors have begun to incorporate. It involves the tracking of your presence via your smartphone and will automatically re-program your homes controls based on your proximity. Motion sensors rely on your presence in or around the actual thermostat in your home in order to adjust controls.
Truth be told, the distinguishing factor that sets one smart thermostat from another are going to be the feature preferences – and reliability, of course, which is detailed by consumers in the smart thermostat reviews below.
While these companies are fighting for technological dominance, they are constantly rushing out new products with new features and software updates. Coming out with a new technology every year can come with it’s problems and many consumers recognize and voice their opinions on these issues. Below are some of the main complaints with smart thermostats in general.
- Installation Problems – conflicting systems, apps that are buggy, etc.
- Un-tested “Beta” thermostats and bugs
- Monthly Subscription Fees
- Learning Curve to figure out your system and the programming
SAFETY AND OTHER INFORMATION
IFTTT is a web based service that allows you to connect multiple devices based on an “if this happens, then do that” functionality. For example, in conjunction with your Nest or Honeywell smart thermostat, you can set channels to turn off the heat in this room when I exit or turn on the fan when the temp in this room gets to a certain temperature.
The U.S. Energy Department aims to address a wide variety of information on energy and environmental concerns. Check their Heating & Cooling Resource Page for energy savings tips on how to reduce your cooling and heating bills, energy audits, Infographics on consumption and more.
… heating and cooling accounts for more than half of the energy use in a typical U.S. home
BEST SMART THERMOSTATS
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|Honeywell Wi-Fi||Not Req'd||$190||4.5/5|
|Emerson Sensi||Not Req'd||$125||4/5|
|Honeywell Lyric||Not Req'd||$230||3.5/5|
The best smart thermostat on the market is without a doubt the Nest Learning Thermostat. They’re the Gold Standard that all else compare themselves with and ultimately are trying to overtake. Recently taken over by Google – and correcting some 1st Generation quirks – you can only imagine how much funding this unit has at its disposal to continuously support software and other product upgrades. This is the most popular smart thermostat on the market.
- Auto Away: Sensors determine when you’ve left and will automatically adjust to avoid cooling or heating a vacant home.
- Auto Schedule: After approximately a week of understanding your temperature settings and adjustments, the Nest will learn to make those for you so you no longer have to.
- The Leaf: Nest will let you know if your personal settings are saving or costing you money.
- Other: Energy History Reports, Tips To Save, Secure Wi-Fi Encryption, Filter Reminders, and More…
Pros: Premium design – Easy install with website video, auto configure feature – Energy reporting – Website with community help forum – Good customer support – Kid proof lock feature to prevent tampering – Auto away recognizes when you are gone – If you make routine adjustments at a certain time the system will LEARN and do it for you – 3 degree temp swing for energy efficiency – Actually uses residual cool/hot air left in ducts to maximize usage
Cons: Isn’t compatible with a number of types of heaters – May have to have it installed professionally at extra cost if problems arise – May not pair up well with other home controlling systems – Larger temp swings to compensate for better energy savings
Honeywell and automation go hand in hand so it’s definitely no surprise that this unit is one of the top rated smart thermostats. Depending on the features and look that you want, Honeywell may well have you covered with their Wi-Fi smart thermostat and its affordable price tag. This unit is easy to read and with its fully customizable touchscreen interface you can literally change the look to match your room decor.
- Program & Schedule: Easily program home or business temperature preferences so its just right when you get home.
- Smart Response: Learns your preferences and knows just how long it takes to heat so it can compensate when you are on your way home.
- Other: Extreme Temp Alerts, Filter Change Reminders, Password Protected Screen, Humidity Displays and More…
Pros: Fully customizable display to color match your home – Smart scheduling saves when you or employees are away – Extreme temp alerts – Filter change reminders – Lockout feature to prevent tampering – Easy install – Displays Indoor and Outdoor temp/humidity (via local weather reports) – 5 day forecast – Vacation setting mode – 1 degree temp swing
Cons: Can’t analyze usage via reporting features – Few customer support complaints – Doesn’t learn your usage patterns and make adjustments like the Nest – Some heat pump incompatibility complaints – Outdoor temp is generated from local zip code, could have major discrepancy based on where you live – Requires C wire for installation, optional workaround may not work for everyone – “Smart” feature temp control can be finnicky – Can’t change Daylight Savings if live outside affected area
Another Next Gen type smart thermostat in direct competition with the Nest unit is the ecobee3 controller. The manufacturers push this unit as the thermostat that “delivers the right temp in the room you need it most.” Their remote sensors determine the temperature and occupancy of each room so you don’t have to worry about continually making adjustments to fit your needs – and more sensors equal tighter control. And let’s not forget about that absolutely stunning touchscreen display.
- Remote Sensors: These sensors determine if you are home or away and automatically override the system so you don’t have to mess with it. Just show up.
- Follow Me: Averages the temps of selected senors to control your comfort level.
- Other: Indoor Humidity, Energy Report, Automated Alerts and Reminders, Outdoor Weather, and More…
Pros: Remote sensor to determine temp and room occupancy, up to 32 – Intuitive sensing recognizes your home’s energy profile – Beautiful LED touchscreen panel – Weather report – Smart Home/Away feature recognizes and adjusts – Alerts and reminders – Easier install than its predecessors – Vacation mode date/temp pre-programming – Actually uses residual cool/hot air left in ducts to maxmize usage
Cons: Additional sensors not included – Install not as easy as competing brands – Requires C wire for install – Some inaccurate thermostat responses – Cannot calibrate remote sensors – Customer service may not be on par with competing brands – Remote sensor may periodically disengage, but then re-connect – Not alot of reviews, may still be BETA as per some reviewers
The Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi smart thermostat may not look like it belongs in Back To The Future 2, but it’s fully functional with enough of the necessities to rival the other thermostats on the list. It’s also packaged in a clean and modern design to fit just about any home’s interior. It’s also priced at the best value available for a unit with as many amenities as it has. Its Multiple Thermostat Control also allows you to control several units with just one account.
- Schedules: Choose up to 9 available schedules so you don’t have to decide between comfort OR savings.
- Other: Local Weather and Conditions, Maintains between 1 degree, Program Retention During Power Loss, Auto Daylight Savings Adjust, and More…
Pros: Budget friendly smart thermostat – Doesn’t require C wire for most applications – Easy install – Bright backlight feature – Clean design – Responsive customer support – Positive operational testimonials
Cons: Some systems DO require C wire – Setting up multiple schedules may cause the unit confusion – Can’t change Daylight Savings if you live outside affected area – Instructions need to be clearer for the non techie – Changing thermostat from remote locations can be flakey – Some reconnect issues when internet is interrupted – No out of range alerts – No lockout feature – No touchscreen – No Geofencing
The Honeywell Lyric is yet another smart thermostat rivaling the Nest and ecobee3 for home automation superiority. Its modern, yet elegant design draws comparisons to their vintage Honeywell thermostats and looks good in any home. And of course with the Honeywell name comes certain expectations. Something to note is that this unit is still in somewhat of a “Beta” stage, but immediately comes with its fair share of supporters due to its functionality and vision.
- Geofencing: Regulates temperatures while you’re away and responds when you come back via smartphone location.
- Shortcuts: Create quick programmed settings based on everyday events like “going to gym” or “going shopping.”
- Motion Sensing Illumination: Thermostat actually lights up when you approach it.
- Other: Humidity Optimization, Filter Reminders, Temperature and Irregularity Alerts and More…
Pros: Maintenance and condition alerts – Geofencing “smart” tracking adjusts temp based on where you are (in or close to your home) – Solid connectivity with Wi-Fi – EcoMode allows you to fine tune temp swings – Clean design – Good customer support
Cons: No physical instruction manual, must use apps or online videos – No web based user interface – Geofencing mode still a bit flakey – Early development model still working out some bugs – Instances of receiving unit with dead battery – Setup could be easier – Doesn’t provide energy usage
The Trane Smart Thermostat with Z-Wave technology offers a minimalist design package similar to the Honeywell above with a price point rivaling that of the Emerson. With its neutral design and LCD display you can get the bare necessities required for smart home automation at an affordable price. Note: You must have Z-Wave to connect products and it is Subscription Based.
- Z-Wave: Wireless technology that communicates with other appliances in your home.
- Nexia Home Intelligence: View Energy Management Charts and make adjustments for better efficiency.
- Other: Out Of Range Text/Email Alerts, Energy Management Charts, Filter Alerts and More…
Pros: Text and email alerts for out of range and service requirements – Energy management charts – Controls thermostats, locks, lights, cameras – LCD display with bright backlight – Accurate thermostat – Fairly easy to install
Cons: Monthly subscription required, free 1 mo trial – Requires additional Nexia Home Bridge purchase (Z-Wave wireless technology) – Lack of quality customer support – Must have C Wire system – Display too dim without backlight on
All of these thermostats represent the future in home energy savings and as mentioned before, the best smart thermostat will be completely based on your desired features and/or brand name loyalty. View the links above to read full reviews on each product.
You’re going to love saving energy not only for the money that will stay in your pocket, but for the impact you’ll have on future product designs as a ground floor consumer for these smart thermostats. And if you’re still not convinced, you can always control your home independently (and seasonally) by picking up a window air conditioner or a dehumidifier. Of course, you’d be shelling out a considerable amount more to do so.