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You have enough bills to pay every month and not all of them are negotiable. Your energy bills shouldn’t be on that list. While we’ve been conditioned to turning our thermostats up when we’re home and down when we leave for the day, the rise of smart home technology has made it easier and more efficient then ever to get a handle on your energy consumption — and your bills.
This new crop of smart thermostats lets you control your temperature settings from the convenience of your phone or tablet (or Apple watch!) meaning you never have to worry about leaving the A/C running when nobody’s home. Even better: many of these thermostats continue working even when you’re at home, monitoring your presence to automatically adjust desired temps for different rooms and zones. The best part: a WiFi network and a smartphone or tablet are all that’s required to get started.
Some of the brands on our list say that switching to a smart thermostat could save you an average of 10-12% on heating bills and more than 15% on cooling bills. Depending on your usage, that smart thermostat could pay for itself in just a few months. Now what’s smarter than that?
1. iDevices Smart Thermostat
Come home to comfortable temps with the iDevices Smart Thermostat, which lets you use Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant to heat or cool your space. Download the iDevices app and control your settings from anywhere, even if you’re away from home.
What we like: the thermostat lets you set up custom “scenes,” like “going to bed,” to automatically change the temperature to your preferred settings. You can also use it to program different zones, from bedroom to basement, so that each part of the house is always consistently heated or cooled. Sync it up to your Apple watch and heat up your home with a simple swipe of the wrist.
Reviewers say the iDevices thermostat is easy to set up and mount, while the glossy white finish fits in easily to your home decor scheme, regardless of your decorating style. A quick note: users say the thermostat’s “automatic” setting doesn’t have as wide a range as other models on the market, but as long as you don’t live in a city where the weather drops off significantly (I.e. going from 70 degrees in the morning to 40 and below at night), it shouldn’t be a big issue. Purchase: $88.75 on Amazon.com.
2. Emerson Sensi WiFi Thermostat
With a 4.4 star rating from more than 1300 reviews online, the Emerson Sensi Thermostat is one of the best values in the marketplace right now. For around a hundred bucks, you get a super intuitive, easy-to-use smart thermostat that reviewers say can be installed in as little as 15 minutes. The 5-inch LCD screen displays all your information clearly and concisely (no deciphering needed!)
What we like: the Sensi controls your temperature settings in two ways. Use the connected app to manually change the temperature from your phone or tablet, or let Sensi do the work for you. Thanks to its built-in geo-fencing technology, Sensi can detect your phone’s location to turn down the heat or A/C when you’re away, and then turn it up again when you’re close to home. The Sensi will also monitor the air in your home for any extreme temperatures or irregular humidity levels and let you know if your system isn’t working properly. Reviewers say Emerson’s 24/7 tech support team comes in super handy if any little bugs or problems occur. Purchase: $104.90 on Amazon.com.
3. LUX Kono WiFi-Enabled Smart Thermostat
For the design-oriented set, you won’t find a prettier unit than the LUX Kono Smart Thermostat. Available in a sleek black, stainless steel finish, the Kono stands out as much for its good looks as it does for its savvy features.
Control your thermostat from the free iOS and Android-compatible app, which also lets you monitor your energy usage and runtime. The app also includes helpful energy-saving tips, and has a handy utility cost estimator, so you’re never caught by surprise when the bills come at the end of the month. Geo-fencing technology means you won’t be running up your heat or A/C when nobody’s home, while a built-in air quality mode alerts you to any sudden changes in temperature.
What we like: LUX has been making tech gadgets for the home and office for more than a century, and their products are designed right here in the U.S. at their Philadelphia headquarters. As for the thermostat, keep it as-is with the included black cover, or swap it for one of these contemporary, design-friendly colors that snap on in a cinch. Purchase: Kono Smart Thermostat $149.00 on Amazon.com | Kono Thermostat Decor Cover, $6.82 on Amazon.com.
4. Nest Learning Thermostat
There’s a reason why the Nest Thermostat is a best-seller, with its super-slim design, the 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. Actively working to save energy, Nest’s technology uses both near and far “field activity” sensors to determine if someone’s in the room. If not, it will start turning down the settings until you’re back.
This third-generation model is the most advanced yet, with thoughtful, intuitive updates that not only connect the Nest to your phone, tablet, or laptop, but to other smart devices too. 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.
What we like: the Nest’s display lights up when it senses someone approaching, instantly showing you the current time and temperature. Look for the leaf icon too, which lets you know you’re choosing a temperature on an energy-efficient setting. The Nest Learning Thermostat is the first thermostat to get ENERGY STAR certified, which means it has shown “demonstrated energy savings and environmental benefits as well as reliable performance and convenience, insight and control.” Purchase: $206.67 on Amazon.com.
5. EcoBee4 Smart Thermostat
With a ton of solid reviews, the EcoBee4 Smart Thermostat is one of the best Nest alternatives. Like the rest of the picks on our list, you can program and control temps using any device, but EcoBee’s built-in Alexa lets you also move the dial with your voice. The EcoBee’s main selling point though is its included room sensor, which better monitors occupancy and temperature settings for a more accurate reading of when someone is home — or when to turn it down to energy-saving mode.
Ecobee says its users have saved up to 23% annually on heating or cooling costs, and reviewers say the system sets up in under 30 minutes out of the box. What we like: download the app to monitor your energy consumption and get custom tips based on your usage. The app will also send you alerts when the thermostat needs maintenance, so you can fix the problem or update the settings before you’re literally, left in the cold. Purchase: $229.00 on Amazon.com.