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Published Aug. 20, 2021

Heating and cooling bills can quickly skyrocket if you don’t have a systematic method for controlling your HVAC. It would be nice if something could monitor the temperature for you, wouldn’t it? Good news, smart home thermostats do just that and a whole lot more. Forgot to turn the AC off? Do it on your way to work. Coming home from a ski weekend? Turn up the heat when you’re an hour from home. 

Smart thermostats offer easy access to your home’s environmental controls. Some include easy-to-use manual interfaces or connect to multiple room sensors for more precise temperature control. The best smart thermostats offer heating and cooling schedules, adapt to homeowner behavior, and let you make temperature adjustments when you’re away from home.  Let’s not forget the fact that they look high-tech and modern, too. Take a peek at the latest in smart home technology with our best smart thermostat list, plus a few tips for choosing one that’s right for you.

The best thermostat for home lets you sit back and relax while saving money. 

Smart thermostats offer distinct advantages over traditional models by taking home temperature control to a new level. These models use WiFi or Bluetooth to connect to an app that lets you monitor and control the temperature from anywhere you can get a connection. Through the app, you can set weekday or weekend schedules, access temperature controls before you step foot into the house, and get detailed analyses of your energy use or temperature patterns. 

Smart home thermostats don’t skimp on technology. Some models feature geofencing, GPS, and touchscreens among their features and options. Advancements now allow some models to learn your behaviors and preferences, then adapt the temperature schedule to anticipate your needs. It comes down to the fact that the best smart thermostats give you one less thing to worry about while saving money on your energy bill. 

Make your temperature control hands-free with a smart thermostat with voice control.

One of the huge benefits of smart thermostats is that they take over home temperature management. Models with voice control let you do that without your phone. All you have to do is be within range of a listening device like an Amazon Echo Dot. You can check the temperature in different rooms, make adjustments, or ask about the schedule. Voice control saves time when you don’t feel like fiddling with a phone. These models add yet another way to save time, effort, and money. 

That said, be sure to check compatibility. Some models may work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, while others may only work with Apple Homekit. The best home thermostat should connect to the same system as the rest of your home’s smart devices.  

Best voice control: Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control

Friendly Temperature Adjustments

This device connects to several smart assistant services, so you can call out commands and change the temperature without lifting a finger. ecobee

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The Ecobee SmartThermostat integrates with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, Homekit, and IFTTT. It includes a smart sensor that detects occupation and adjusts heat settings for specific rooms. You can also purchase additional smart sensors that will trigger the Ecobee to turn off your HVAC system when a door or window is opened. These additional sensors can also be used as part of a home-security system, where you get alerts for movement detection and opened doors. It takes about 45 minutes to install, but once it’s up and running, the Ecobee provides a full range of features for scheduling and controlling your home environment — you’ll love it so much, you’ll run to get your hands on all the Alexa smart home devices.

The best smart thermostats need a user-friendly manual interface

Apps and remote access are one of the biggest benefits of smart thermostats. However, if you’re the kind of person who only wants to fiddle with an app when you’re away from home, a user-friendly manual interface makes life easier. Smart thermostats can have large touchscreen interfaces, where you can scroll through settings, schedules, and quickly make temperature adjustments. 

An easy-to-use manual interface can also come in handy if you have weak or spotty WiFi. If your WiFi is on the fritz, a manual interface that doesn’t take rocket science to use will keep your house comfortable.

Best manual operation: Honeywell Home RCHT9610WFSW2003 T9 WiFi Thermostat

Smart but Manual-Friendly

This option includes a touchscreen interface, making it easy to adjust temperatures when you don’t have time for an app. Honeywell Home

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This Honeywell smart thermostat features a large, color touchscreen that’s easy to read and use. The screen defaults to displaying the room temperature when it’s not in use, but a touch of the screen pops up the menu. It comes with a single remote thermostat, but you can buy and add more for increased control over the home’s environment. This model can also monitor and change the temperature in specific rooms of the house.

The right adapter lets some smart thermostats renew old HVAC systems

New and old technology don’t always get along. Unfortunately, that means that some smart thermostats don’t play well with old HVAC systems. That said, some smart thermostats whip old systems into shape with a power adapter that includes a C-wire for the added power that smart models need. 

If you live in an older home, check the wiring for your thermostat to see if you need a model that requires an adapter. And double-check the smart thermostat’s specs and manufacturer’s offered accessories. Even if the thermostat doesn’t come with an adapter, many manufacturers offer one that’s sold separately.

Best for old HVAC: Honeywell T5+ RCT8612WF

Flexible Wiring and Programming

This pick comes with an adapter to connect to older HVAC systems. Honeywell Home

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The Honeywell T5+ is designed and ships with the necessary adapter for older homes that don’t have a C-wire. It also has an excellent range of features, including geofencing to activate the HVAC when your phone enters the geofencing zone, seven-day scheduling, and the option to override scheduling for weekends or holidays. The Honeywell can also send push notifications to let you know the status of filters or other HVAC maintenance issues. 

Learning smart thermostats fine-tune heating schedules for greater energy efficiency.

Some smart thermostats are smarter than others. As creepy as it may sound, these smart devices get to know you by recognizing patterns in your behavior. For example, they’ll learn that you turn the thermostat down to 60°F every night at 10 p.m. It will then make that adjustment for you. 

Models that include additional remote sensors or monitors in other rooms can even learn to adjust temperatures in rooms based on when they’re occupied and who occupies them. It’s all about pattern recognition to fine-tune the programs and scheduling so that you don’t have to.

Best learning smart thermostat: Google Nest Learning Thermostat

Fast Learner

This smart device doesn’t take long to become your best friend by adjusting the heating schedule based on your preferences. Google

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The Google Nest learning thermostat doesn’t waste time getting to know you. Once it’s installed, it starts looking for patterns. If you’re unhappy with the temperature, you can change it manually or remotely through the app. The Nest then remembers what temperatures you like, when you like them, and sets the schedule for you. Before long, you’ll find that it anticipates your preferences, and you get to chill (at the perfect temperature). It can also learn to adjust the temperature in certain rooms if you connect a compatible remote thermostat (separately sold) in another room. You’ll love it so much, you’ll be getting all the Google smart home devices in no time.

Save your budget with an affordable smart thermostat

Smart thermostats can get pricey when you add features like geofencing (using GPS or RFID to define an area), learning capabilities, and multiple remote sensors. However, you can get a model that lacks a few of the higher-end features yet still automates temperature control. These models come at an affordable price with functional apps and important features like remote scheduling and monitoring.

Best budget smart thermostat: Emerson Sensi WiFi Smart Thermostat

Assistant Compatible

The Emerson lets you track and make changes remotely, but it’s also compatible with many of the most popular virtual assistants for voice control too. Sensi

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The Emerson Sensi WiFi Smart Thermostat lets you use your phone as a remote control from anywhere you can get a WiFi connection. It  tracks your energy use, letting you see when you’re using the most energy and making adjustments according to the best usage times. The thermostat also works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings for 100 percent hands-free control.

FAQs

Q: What are the disadvantages of a smart thermostat?

The downfalls of smart thermostats typically come from connectivity issues. If you have slow WiFi, one of these devices could be frustrating because you can’t connect to make schedule changes. In these cases, you may end up using manual controls more often than not.

Q: Can a smart thermostat detect room occupancy?

Yes, some smart thermostats can detect room occupancy. They do that through motion detection or by sensing the app on your phone. Those that use motion detection will detect all of your family members (including pets), while those that detect the app may only recognize you in the room if you have your phone.

Q: Is a smart thermostat better than a programmable thermostat?

In many ways, yes, a smart thermostat is better than a programmable thermostat. Smart models tend to offer more information like energy usage and temperature patterns for more precise control.

Smart thermostats also let you adjust the temperature when you’re away from home, which programmable models do not. 

The final world on the best smart thermostat

The best smart thermostats monitor the temperature for you. They collect information that helps you (or them) make informed decisions about energy usage. These new thermostats take work out of your hands, so you can relax in cozy warmth or blessed chilliness of your home, depending on what you prefer. Look for features that work with your lifestyle, like geofencing if you want your house to jump to attention when you pull up or learning capabilities if you want it to adapt the schedule to your preferences. In the meantime, the best smart thermostat will reduce your energy bill, save time, and make your home look ultra modern.

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