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Most of your monthly expenses are fixed. Your rent, cable, and HBO Max subscription don’t fluctuate every month. The same can’t be said for your energy bill. It’s easy to suffer sticker shock just because an unseasonably hot or cold month made you reach for the thermostat.
For a long time, there wasn’t much you could do besides putting on a sweater, or opening a window and hoping for a breeze. Thankfully, technology has advanced, and we now have smart thermostats, which can regulate your home temperature automatically based on your schedule. You get to feel comfortable, save money, and be environmentally friendly without much effort.
What Are the Best Smart Thermostats?
There are many factors to think about when choosing the best energy-saving thermostats for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Design: “Smart” appliances can look very different than the ones they replace, and we understand some people may not feel comfortable with that. The thermostats in this guide range from hyper traditional to very modern.
Heating and cooling system compatibility: A common fear among users is that they won’t be able to install a smart thermostat using their existing wiring. That’s not the case. Smart thermostats connect to your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system using the same multi-colored wiring system as older ones. To be safe, we’ve provided a link to a compatibility guide from each manufacturer, so you can make sure it’ll work with your setup.
Energy efficiency: Every smart thermostat will give you an estimate of how much power (and money) it can save you each month, but this will vary based on your usage. Rather than giving you an estimate based on factors we can’t control, we made sure every pick on this list is ENERGYSTAR® certified, which means they’ve all been independently verified to be energy efficient.
Smart assistant compatibility: One of the features that makes these thermostats “smart” is the ability to control them through an app on your phone. But, some take it a step further by allowing you to connect them to a smart-home hub, like the Amazon Echo, Google Home, or HomePod, so you can control them with your voice. This makes them easier (and more futuristic!) to use, so we factored it in. Note: To use smart features, you’ll need to connect the thermostat to your home’s Wi-Fi network.
1. Emerson Sensi WiFi Thermostat
The previous Sensi thermostat model from Emerson used to look like a traditional thermostat, but this upgrade has many of the same smart features with a new futuristic-looking look.
This thermostat doesn’t have physical buttons, so you can change the temperature other settings with the illuminated easy-to-use touchscreen — bottom line, it’s fully “smart.” Emerson ships an app (compatible with iPhones and Android phones), that also gives you full control over the Sensi.
You can adjust the temperature from your phone and set up a schedule for your heating and cooling system so it doesn’t run all day. You can even set up a geofence, which is an invisible fence around your house that detects when your phone is near. With a geofence, your HVAC system will automatically turn on when you arrive, and turn off when you leave.
This thermostat is compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, HomeKit (Apple’s smart home standard), and the Google Assistant. Once you’ve set this feature up, you’ll be able to control the temperature in your home with your voice.
If your biggest concern with upgrading to a smart thermostat has been their intimidating look, this is an excellent choice.
2. Honeywell Home Smart Thermostat
Honeywell has been around for 114 years, and helped invent the first thermostat, so it’s safe to say you can trust its reputation. Its smart thermostat is a slightly modernized take on an analog model, but it should still be familiar to most people.
It has a touch screen instead of buttons, but the large display and clear text make it easy to read and understand. You can adjust everything from your home’s temperature, to a heating and cooling schedule, to cycling through different modes to fine tune different settings.
Honeywell also displays the outdoor temperature and humidity right on the thermostat, so you’ll know what to expect when you walk outside.
The company also ships an app (for iPhone and Android) that gives you the same level of control as the buttons on the thermostat. It also lets you control your HVAC system from anywhere, so you can make changes if your schedule changes.
This thermostat is compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, Samsung’s SmartThings, and an automation program called IFTTT (If This Than That). Apple users are out of luck — you won’t be able to interact with this thermostat using Siri.
If you want a thermostat that’s a little modern, but still looks and works like your current one, this is an excellent choice.
3. Nest Learning Thermostat
Nest basically invented the smart thermostat category, and there’s a reason it’s still considered the best option. It has a super-slim design, large, simple display, and a ton of features that activate everything from sensors to complicated algorithms to deliver optimal performance in your home or office. I’ve used a Nest for over five years, and it’s the one I always recommend.
This thermostat may look complicated, but it’s fairly easy to use: Twist its dial to the left to lower the temperature, and the right to increase the temperature. You can make additional adjustments on the thermostat by clicking on its screen and navigating several setting screens, but it’s really designed to be used with the Nest app (available on iPhone and Android).
The app is intuitive to use, and gives you fine grain control over how your HVAC system works. You can set up a schedule, or a maximum and minimum temperature, so you’re always comfortable. If you don’t want to mess with that, the Nest’s motion sensor will learn your routine over time, and turn your heating or cooling on and off as is necessary.
The Nest thermostat has been around for a long time, but this third-generation model is the most advanced yet. You can control it with Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant (sorry again, Apple fans), and connect it to other smart devices in your home.
Pair it with a smart washer and dryer and your washing machine will only run your load of laundry when energy demand is low. Pair it with your smart light bulbs and your lights will turn off when the thermostat is set to “away” mode. The same goes for your smart plugs. It’ll shut off power to your devices and small appliances when you’re out, to prevent short circuits or overheating.
That seems like a lot, and it is, but the Nest lets you use as many or as few of these features as you want. You may start small, but it’s nice to know you have the option to unlock more and more smart features over time.
Note: Google also sells the Nest Thermostat, which has many of the same features, but for $99.99 here. It’s not compatible with as many HVAC systems, and you give up extras like the full color screen, but you should definitely consider it.
4. ecobee Smart Thermostat
Ecobee’s Smart Thermostat splits the difference between the Nest’s ultra smart features, and an analogue look and feel. Its face is one giant touch screen, so you can access different modes and features by tapping and swiping the display.
Its screen makes it more intuitive to use than the Nest, but it’s still best to control the thermostat through its app (iPhone and Android). It’s also compatible with smart home assistants, including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, and IFTTT. An additional note: this thermostat actually has Amazon’s Alexa built into it, so it has many of the same features as an Amazon Echo.
The app lets you set schedules, receive reminders and alerts if something seems off, and select “comfort settings” to analyze hot or cold spots in your home.
Ecobee has carved out an interesting niche for itself in a crowded market by using a wireless sensor to detect the temperature of an individual room, and sense if people are inside. It can make per-room adjustments based on the sensor’s readings, so it doesn’t heat unoccupied rooms to save energy. These sensors are small and run on batteries, so you don’t need to set them up near an outlet.
This bundle comes with one sensor, but you can buy more to cover your entire house. Ecobee’s approach makes it easy to intelligently cool larger homes with a single thermostat. That said, the bigger your home, the more sensors you’ll need.
It may not integrate as deeply with your other smart home accessories, but ecobee’s thermostat is the most sophisticated option in this guide.
5. GE Lighting Cync Smart Thermostat
GE’s new “Cync” brand impressed us last year with their home security camera, but they continue to follow up with more stellar smart home offerings, including this year’s Cync Smart Thermostat with one standout feature.
Or rather, the one key thing it doesn’t feature – the thermostat actually doesn’t need a C-wire, an extra wire used in many smart thermostats on the market to provide extra power to HVAC systems, to function. That being said, it still manages to be compatible with most heating and cooling systems.
The Cync Smart Thermostat gives you temperature control from anywhere on your phone, or through voice commands. Even if you like your home office burning hot, but your bedroom cool at night, you can also add on CYNC Temperature Sensors (sold separately) to get ideal temperature in different rooms throughout the day.
To help save energy, you can also enable the thermostat’s eco mode when you’re not home and monitor your HVAC’s usage. Saving on your energy bill might not seem revolutionary, but GE makes little daily improvements even easier with their Cync lineup.