With home heating prices potentially reaching new highs this winter, intelligent thermostats are quite possibly the most critical smart device you could add to your home, irrespective of whether you rent or own.
The best smart thermostats are convenient; they can also save you money on your monthly utility bills for as long as you live in your home. In addition, most utility companies are offering a mail-in rebate when you buy and put in a new smart thermostat, which also gives you additional savings over and above the thermostat’s sale price.
Testing a smart thermostat
Installing a thermostat is not as complicated as you might think. All of the smart thermostat devices we tested came with apps that walked us through the installation process, which was super helpful and made it easy to understand. However, if you’re having trouble or your app doesn’t come with onboarding instructions, make sure to look up instructions and follow them step by step.
We used each smart thermostat’s respective app to test all of its features after installation. This included geofencing capabilities using both Wi-Fi and cellular networks and trying them with all compatible smart home ecosystems. We also made sure each device worked properly before concluding our tests.
Should you get a smart thermostat?
If you’re not sure if a smart thermostat is for you, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want to be able to control your temperature from anywhere?
- Do you have family members who live in a different town and need to be able to adjust the temperature remotely?
- Would you like to save up to 30% on your annual heating and cooling bills?
- Do you want a thermostat that can be programmed via voice or automatically?
- Do you have a Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa-enabled device in your home?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a smart thermostat is right for you!
Things to know before you buy a smart thermostat
When it comes to purchasing a smart thermostat, you should know a few things before making your decision. If you have more than one climate-controlled zone in your home, you will need to purchase a smart thermostat for each zone. Additionally, smart thermostats are not compatible with whole-house dehumidifiers, heat pumps, and ventilation systems.
Another thing to remember is that most intelligent thermostats use C wires to communicate with your heating and air conditioning system. If your furnace does not have a C wire or if the C wire is not connected correctly, the smart thermostat may not work correctly. Before purchasing a smart thermostat, check its compatibility with your HVAC system.
One of the main issues people face when switching over to using a smart thermostat is the lack of available C wires in their homes. In these cases, some homeowners have opted to replace their entire furnace-an expensive and time-consuming process. Another solution is for an electrician to install a power extender kit into your HVAC system for about $150. This will give the thermostat what it needs to work properly.
Although smart thermostats are designed to save you money on your energy bill, not all models are created equal.
Here is our list of the best smart thermostats across categories for 2022.
The best smart thermostat: Nest Learning Thermostat
The Nest Learning Thermostat is the best overall smart thermostat because it’s ‘smarter’ than the rest on our list. Months of testing on various models revealed that the Nest Learning Thermostat never underperformed. Once you do need to interact with it, it has the most straightforward controls and smart features that allow you to set it and forget it. Additionally, it can learn from your temperature changes and establish trends for future temperature adjustments, and it adjusts based on patterns it knows.
The Nest also has three modes: cooling, heating, and eco. The thermostat can figure out when you leave and then switches back to Eco when you return home, making your HVAC and electricity bill more cost-effective. The bezel is the traditional “click wheel,” with a different look and feel than other smart thermostats. The face has physical buttons, which you can also push to select options.
When you don’t feel like getting up to regulate the temperature or mode, you can use your Android or iOS device to open the Nest app. The app’s intuitive interface is designed to mimic the real Nest Learning Thermostat. You can conveniently adjust the temperature, view historical data, and create custom schedules.
Additionally, the Nest Learning Thermostat can communicate with different temperature sensors throughout your home, allowing for more precise heating and cooling control. Even in a single-zone configuration (as in our testing), the Nest’s various sensors split up into three levels enabled it to see the temperature more precisely throughout the space and set more accurate settings.
The Nest Learning Thermostat is compatible with a wide variety of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. We evaluated it in two locations: a one-bedroom apartment with a single zone and a two-story home with a single zone, both of which were fitted with a central cooling and heating system that lacked a “C,” or typical, wire.
Typically, the C wire is used to supply power to a thermostat straight from the household current. Suppose your home lacks a C wire (as some modern systems do). In that case, the Nest Thermostat can be powered by its integrated battery or an additional power adapter if your HVAC system is particularly energy-hungry.
The best budget smart thermostat: Nest Thermostat
The Nest Thermostat is a less expensive alternative to the Nest Learning Thermostat. The Nest does not have integrated intelligence but still allows manual control of settings and schedules. Additionally, it offers remote control options through integrations with sayings like “Hey Google” or “Alexa.”
However, unlike the Nest Learning Thermostat, the Nest Thermostat will not discover your preferences over time. It cannot track your energy usage and make slight adjustments during the day or week to help you save money on your energy bill. To some extent, you can address this on your own by creating a schedule that includes presets for sleep and eco mode at preferred times of the day.
If you prefer physical interaction over the circular moveable bezel of the Learning Thermostat, the Nest Thermostat comes equipped with a capacitive touch sensor on the top right side. Here, you can adjust the temperature by sliding your finger up or down or tapping it to initiate an action. And, to be honest, we did get the hang of it after a few days, but it’s not as organic as the click wheel on the Nest Learning Thermostat. It may ultimately require more interactions to accomplish certain tasks. For example, to change cooling modes, tap it once to bring up a menu, skim to an icon button, and tap once more to choose it. However, you can swipe up or down throughout the day to adjust the temperature.
The thermostat is easy to install and draws power from the C wire. It also features a mirror finish on its display, which may not be suitable for long-term use. Finally, it has four finishes: Snow, Sand, Fog, and Charcoal.
Surprisingly, the Nest Thermostat does not utilize the Nest app. This is part of Google’s more extensive reorganization, but setup and control remain within the primary Google Home app. It’s a fairly straightforward interface, and if you’re by now in this ecosystem for your smart home, you’ll feel right at home.
The interface for the Nest Thermostat within the Home app is identical to the physical unit, with the set temperature in the center and the current air temp (including the humidity) directly below.
The best Alexa-enabled smart thermostat: Amazon Smart Thermostat
The Amazon Smart Thermostat is an excellent choice for those looking for an Alexa-enabled thermostat. Priced at just $59, this device delivers fantastic performance and reliability. The real magic of the Amazon Smart Thermostat is that we barely had to adjust anything manually when using it with Alexa!
Since using the thermostat, it has been very reliable and consistent. Another great feature of the Amazon Smart Thermostat is the Alexa Hunches, an automated feature that learns your habits and helps the thermostat perform better. With the Amazon Smart Thermostat, you can set a timer to turn your temperature down at set intervals. For example, if you went on a vacation, you can tell Alexa to turn up your heat before you arrive so that your home isn’t freezing when you get back!
Alexa will ask if you want the thermostat to do something for you when it’s time-for instance, turning up or down the temperature based on what she knows about your preferences. The Amazon Smart Thermostat features a simple design and digital number display that is easy to read from across the room or the house in another room, and it’s also easy to install and use.
The Alexa app helps with real-time temperature adjustments or automation of the thermostat when things get colder or hotter.
Where the Smart Thermostat falls short of our overall pick is versatility, as it only works with Amazon’s own ecosystem. The Amazon Smart Thermostat is not compatible with Google Assistant, which could be a downside for some users. However, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, this thermostat is a great budget option that costs less than $100!
Other smart thermostats we tried
The Wyze Thermostat is an excellent value for the price. It supports Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands, making it easy to control your home with your phone or voice command. The materials feel a bit cheap compared to other competing models of the same price range, but overall the product still offers excellent value for any budget-conscious consumer.
The design isn’t very glamorous, but it’s not bad either. The build quality is not great, and the setup took a bit longer than we would have liked, but at $80, it’s tough to beat this thermostat in terms of features.
If you’re looking for a sleek-looking device with top-of-the-line features, you may want to consider spending a little more on another model. However, if you’re budget conscious or want an affordable thermostat that works well without all of the bells and whistles, then the Wyze Thermostat is definitely worth considering.
To install the Honeywell Home T9, you’ll need to supply power via a C wire or the included adapter. Afterward, the setup is pretty straightforward. Additionally, the T9 supports geofencing, allowing you to set it to an eco-friendly temperature while away and switch it back on as you reach your home. Additionally, this smart thermostat is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Home.
The Ecobee smart thermostat with Alexa built-in is a great addition to any home. It’s especially perfect for people already familiar with the Amazon Echo and who want to control their thermostat with voice commands. The thermostat comes with a remote temperature and occupancy sensor, which can help you save on your energy bill by optimizing heating and cooling when you’re not home. The auto changeover mode can also reduce how much you spend on electricity by pre-heating or cooling your home.
If you already own any other Ring devices, consider the Honeywell, as it integrates seamlessly with the Ring ecosystem. Apart from that, these are relatively standard thermostats. As with the Ecobees, these come with a power adapter. It has a slightly more bulky appearance due to the black square design, but it is still relatively easy to handle.
The Ecobee 3 Lite is a cheaper version of the Ecobee Smart Thermostat With Voice Control. It has a smaller touch screen that was easy to use in our testing and mirrors the companion app for Android or iOS. It comes down to personal preference on whether you want physical buttons or not, but we missed having them on our smart thermostat.
The Ecobee 3 Lite is the less expensive entry into the Ecobee line of smart thermostats. As with the robust Ecobee Smart Thermostat With Voice Control, this smart thermostat includes a power adapter, which is advantageous if your setup lacks a C wire for direct power to the unit. It’s a simple enough task to install, but it adds a few minutes to the installation process. The Ecobee 3 Lite supports a slew of smart home ecosystems, including Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, and SmartThings.
Are smart thermostats a good bang for your buck?
When it comes to smart thermostats, there are a lot of factors you need to consider before making your purchase. While they have some great features that can save you money on your energy bills, if you don’t take advantage of them, you may not be getting the most out of your investment.
One way to save money with an intelligent thermostat is by using home/away modes based on your location. If you’re not at home, the thermostat can automatically turn down the heat or air conditioning so that you’re not wasting energy when you don’t need it. And if you forget to turn off your heat or AC when you leave for work, the thermostat will take care of it for you!
However, these features only work if they’re used properly. If someone is always turning the heat up or down manually instead of letting the thermostat do its job, then they’re defeating the purpose of having a smart model in the first place.
Smart thermostats also come with energy reports that show consumers their monthly energy usage patterns. This information can help people identify areas where they can make changes and save even more money on their bills each month!
Smart thermostats are becoming increasingly popular in today’s society. Not only do they save you money on your energy bill, but many of them also work with other intelligent devices and services.
Many smart thermostats come with built-in integrations for some of the most popular voice assistants. The Ecobee is a perfect example-it integrates with Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and its own app. This allows you to control your thermostat using just your voice! Finally, some smart thermostats have voice control capabilities that let you trigger specific actions without saying a word.
If you’ve been using a traditional programmable thermostat up to this point, you’ve been missing out. Smart thermostats can automatically regulate your home’s temperature based on your set schedule. However, many can determine the optimal temperature independently, without your assistance, and they automatically pick up on your preferences, schedule, and habits over time.
Multiple thermostats are also data analysts, producing a status report on your energy consumption and how it corresponds to previous periods. The bottom line is that these devices are not only convenient, but they also have the potential to save you significant amounts of money over time.
The less money you splurge on a smart thermostat, the sooner you’ll see a return on your investment. However, a less expensive model frequently comes with fewer features and functionality. To achieve the most significant long-term savings, you should put more money into a smart thermostat well-suited to your home, schedule, and lifestyle.
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