You want the convenience of controlling your home's heating and cooling with your phone or voice and you started researching what device will help you make this happen.
Now it’s time to choose what kind of smart thermostat you should buy. You’re in luck because there are many options on the market today! We are about to discuss the ones that offer the most flexibility and value, helping you make your home really energy efficient.
Why Look for the Best Smart Thermostat?
Since heating and cooling is the largest energy expense for most homes, the ability to adjust your home’s temperature intelligently so your energy use is optimized can really make a difference.
A smart thermostat can be programmed to lower the energy bill by turning your HVAC system off when you’re not around, and back on when you need it, and it can be controlled remotely for your convenience. It can also send you alerts and provide you with data so you can track your energy usage so you can adjust it in real time, accordingly.
Smart thermostats become an extension of the growing smart home market consisting of door locks, indoor and outdoor security cameras, coffee makers, lights, refrigerators and speakers that are intended to make your life easier and cater to your needs.
Have you ever left for vacation wondering if you lowered the temperature in your living room? With a smart thermostat, you can check that from anywhere. Your home becomes a “smart ecosystem” of devices that can learn your preferences and eliminate some human errors out of the equation.
When evaluating smart thermostats, consider not only the ease of use and price, but also any additional features that make the device truly smart (i.e., integrations with smart home systems like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple HomeKit or Google Assistant).
Here is the list of the best smart thermostats based on their features, functionality for small spaces and popularity/brand recognition among the general public.
The 4 Best Smart Thermostats You Should Consider
Ecobee4 takes the first spot as the best smart thermostat on the market. It may be pricier than its competitors, but the depth of functionality is well-worth it if you want to fully optimize your energy use. This device also offers robust integration with smart-home systems like none of the other smart thermostats can, plus a built-in Alexa smart speaker is an additional bonus.
Features: Remote Sensors (one free room sensor included), Self-installation, Motion Activation, Build-in Alexa Speaker (it can set a timer, read you the news, adjust the temperature, etc.)
Integrations: Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, Logitech, Wink, IFTTT
Warranty: 3 years included
2. Honeywell Wi-Fi Thermostat (RTH8580WF)
The Honeywell Wi-Fi Thermostat (RTH8580WF) offers functionality similar to Nest and Ecobee smart thermostats for about half the price. It might have a less appealing design, but underneath the old-fashioned package, you still have much of the desirable smart thermostat functionality, such as voice and phone-based control and linking to other smart home gadgets, including smart locks. In other words, the Honeywell Wi-Fi Thermostat brings you the most value at the most affordable price.
Features: 4 program periods per day, ability to view local weather from the web portal or app, Wink App Ready – No Wink Hub Required
Integrations: Alexa, Google Home, Wink, Samsung SmartThings, Iris by Lowe's, IFTTT
Warranty: 1-year limited manufacturer's warranty
- “Compatibility is Required” Works with virtually any system type except electric baseboards. But Please Note: C-Wire...
- 7 day programming with 4 program periods per day can be configured to meet almost any scheduling scenario for ultimate...
- Wi-Fi enabled thermostat allows for remote access via smart-phone or computer, free smart-phone app for iPhone, iPad and...
3. Ecobee3 lite
If you live in a small home (perhaps an apartment or condo) and don't need extra sensors in multiple rooms, Ecobee3 is the most suitable smart thermostat to help you save energy (and money). It is basically the Ecobee4 without the built-in Amazon Alexa unit or room sensor included.
Features: Color touchscreen, intuitive interface and deep smart home integration – similar to Ecobee4
Integrations: Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, Logitech, Wink, IFTTT
Warranty: 3 years included
- SAVE MONEY: Homeowners save up to 23% annually on heating or cooling costs, plus ecobee pays for itself in under 2 years...
- WORKS WITH ROOM SENSORS: Place them in the rooms that matter the most and have the temperature balanced throughout your...
- EASILY INSTALL YOURSELF: It only takes about 30 minutes, thanks to an easy to follow installation guide and an in-app...
4. Nest Learning Thermostat (T3007ES)
While popularity doesn’t make a smart thermostat the best one, it can be important when it comes to trusting the brand to deliver the promised value. This is why the Nest Learning Thermostat is worth your consideration. Nest has become the most recognizable brand of smart thermostats with its sleek design and versatile functionality.
After a few days of manual adjustments, the Nest Learning Thermostat will anticipate when you would want to turn the temperature up or down or send alerts when something seems off (e.g., temperature is too low).
Features: “Learning” ability – instead of manual programming, the thermostat establishes a “home area” and uses your phone’s GPS and levels of activity (measured with a motion) to determine temperature changes.
Integrations: Alexa, Google Assistant
Warranty: 2-year limited manufacturer's warranty
- Programmable smart thermostat that learns your schedule and the temperatures you like and programs itself to help you...
- Home/Away Assist automatically adjusts itself to an Eco Temperature after you leave, so you don’t heat or cool an...
- Remote control lets family members change the temperature from anywhere on a phone, laptop, or tablet
1. Lux TX500U Thermostat
Lux TX500U Thermostat is a great combination of value and function, making it possibly the top pick for anyone looking for a basic programmable thermostat. It works well with heating and cooling systems including single and multi-stage heat pumps and has a universal compatibility for all system types except electric baseboard heat. This smart thermostat also features the Exclusive Lux speed slide for easy programming, separate weekday and weekend programs with 2 or 4 periods per day, a large lighted one-touch display, and a Next button that makes it easier to figure out how to create programs.
Additionally, there is a programmable air filter life timer and keyboard lockout for unauthorized users, the vacation hold can be set from 1 to 30 days, and the smart recovery enables the set temperature to be reached by the programmed time.
- Great for heating and cooling systems including single and multi-stage heat pumps
- Universal compatibility for all system types except electric baseboard heat
- Exclusive Lux speed slide for easy programming
2. Honeywell Lyric T5
Honeywell Lyric T5 can be controlled via the Lyric app and has a built-in geofencing feature that works well to manage your home’s energy use and climate, even if it cannot learn your preferences or sense your presence via motion. It is also compatible with Apple HomeKit/Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa.
- Optional power adapter included - Wi-Fi thermostats typically require extra power via a "C" wire. Many homes lack this...
- 7-day flexible scheduling or location based temperature control - it’s your choice. 7-day scheduling programs your...
- Smart alerts - push notifications remind you to change your filter and warn you of extreme indoor temperatures
3. Nest Thermostat E
Nest Thermostat E adjusts your home’s temperature with the least amount of programming. While it costs less, offering a much simpler look, it actually has most of the learning features and the easy-to-use design of the standard Nest thermostat. This smart thermostat learns your heating and cooling preferences, then creates a schedule based on that. It is easy to install, but keep in mind that it may not be compatible with as many HVAC systems as other Nest models.
It also works with Nest’s Temperature Sensors and a wide variety of smart-home platforms, including Alexa and Google Assistant.
- Nest AUTHORIZED DEALER - Includes Full Nest USA WARRANTY
- Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation, White)
- INCLUDED IN THE BOX: Display - Base - Nest Screwdriver - Welcome Guide - Installation Guide - Trim Kit - Mounting Screws...
4. Emerson Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Thermostat
Emerson Sensi Touch Wi-fi Thermostat may not be as well-known as other brands, but it has an easy installation process and a helpful app, which makes control more intuitive. It also has an impressive scheduling functionality, which allows different people to design and deploy multiple heating/cooling schedules. Geofencing is available in beta testing, and you can adjust the thermostat settings using your smartphone, even outside the range of your home wi-fi network.
Other helpful features include keypad lockout and alerts on your phone when the temperature or humidity goes outside boundaries you defined.
- EDITORS CHOICE BEST OVERALL SMART THERMOSTAT by USA Today’s reviewed.com
- SAVE ABOUT 23% ON HVAC ENERGY*: By adjusting the temperature using flexible scheduling, remote access, and geofencing,...
- MOST INSTALL IN 30 MINUTES OR LESS**: Use the built-in level, illuminated easy-click terminals and step-by-step app...
There are a few things to keep in mind when buying a smart thermostat – such as wiring and ease of installation, geofencing for the home area and sensor control, remote access and user interface.
Many smart thermostats require a dedicated common wire (C-wire) to connect to a low-voltage power provided by your HVAC system. If you are replacing your existing thermostat, check inside the wall to see if there’s a wire that hasn’t been connected. If you don’t find one, consider installing it since most start thermostat manufacturers highly recommend it.
Ease of Installation
Most manufacturers provide comprehensive instructions with photographs or even videos to guide you through the installation process. Your smart thermostat should have clear labels indicating which wires go where, and the wires should be color coded. If you are replacing an old thermostat, it will be helpful to take a photo of it to document any wire connections before you take it down.
Some smart thermostats can establish a perimeter around your home and will adjust the temperature automatically based on any activity within that perimeter – this functionality is called geofencing. The feature relies on your smartphone’s GPS chip to establish the perimeter and will turn the HVAC on or off based on your proximity to home. Using your smartphone, you can also check your thermostat activity and control your home temperature remotely as long as you’re connected to the internet.
Alternatively, if you do not want to use your smartphone’s GPS but still want your thermostat to act based on whether someone is actually at home, motion sensors will come in handy. Some smart thermostats can connect other home sensors (e.g., door, window or motion sensors for security system) in addition to the thermostat-provided ones.
Today, many brands pay a lot more attention to the user-centric design. Even though smart thermostats are a lot more complex than older devices, they also become more intuitive in use. If customization matters to you, test a few devices to see what kinds of display works best for you. In the end, your smart thermostat should provide you with the information you need at a glance and be easily adapted to your needs.
ENERGY STAR Tips
ENERGY STAR® label is on all energy efficiency qualified products. Since smart thermostats offer the ability to monitor and adjust your home’s temperature even when you are away, they might be the best candidate to save energy in your home according to ENERGY STAR tips.
Smart thermostats that have earned the ENERGY STAR go through an independent certification process that verifies energy savings based on extensive field data. So look for the ENERGY STAR label on smart thermostats – it can tell you a lot about the device before you read anything else. For example:
- ENERGY STAR smart thermostats can be controlled remotely.
- Some ENERGY STAR certified smart thermostats provide monthly reports of energy usage which you can use to compare performance over time.
Additional ENERGY STAR tips include:
- If your household operates on a typical schedule, adjust heating and cooling for times when you don’t need it, and smart thermostats allow you to conveniently use a smartphone or tablet app to do it. As you’ve seen above, some products will actually learn your schedule on their own.
- If you don’t have pets or plants and are going away for extended periods of time, adjust your thermostat to keep your home protected from freezing pipes and such, but don’t waste energy keeping your furniture warm. You can turn the system back on remotely to make your home more comfortable for your arrival.
- There are some utility rebates for ENERGY STAR certified smart thermostats available in many parts of the country. Check them out before buying one. Also, make sure the smart thermostat you like is compatible with your heating and cooling system.
- If you have the highest efficiency heating and cooling equipment, check if you can get a controller from the same company.
- Check that you have whichever home network you need to connect the thermostat (most likely you’ll need WiFi connection).
The Best Smart Thermostat for You
Ultimately, choosing the best smart thermostat is about what works for you.
Remember that each product has different features to help homeowners save energy, so choose with ENERGY STAR guidelines and your priorities in mind.
Is saving energy and reducing cost your main priority?
How much data would you like to have available?
Do you value beautiful designs for your devices?
How many and what kind of other smart devices would you like to connect together?
Checking out the smart thermostats listed here and answering these questions will help you identify what’s important to you, and choose the kind of device that best matches your specific needs.