Smart thermostats can make your home more energy-efficient and save you $100 or more per year in heating and cooling costs. They let you control the temperature of your home remotely and can be integrated with your home’s other smart home devices. Some can even automatically learn your habits, or work with voice control.
But unlike many smart devices, smart thermostats require a bit of pre-planning to make sure they’ll work with your existing appliances before you start the installation process. Before investing in a thermostat, you’ll have to get up to snuff on what HVAC system your home uses. If your home uses separate heating and cooling systems, you may need a separate device for each. Most smart thermostats require a common wire — or C-wire — installation too, which it needs to stay constantly connected to a home’s wi-fi. If you have an older HVAC system you may have to jump through some hoops to make a smart thermostat work at all, as Consumer Reports explains.
Larger homes with multiple floors may have multiple heating and cooling systems to control the different areas of the house all at the same time. In those cases, you’ll likely need to buy multiple smart thermostats, as one is required to control each of the different areas and its individual heating and cooling system.
If you don’t want to install the smart thermostat yourself, or you don’t know answers to the above questions, you can hire a professional to do it for you. A number of retailers, such as Best Buy, Home Depot or Amazon, let you purchase this installation when you buy a smart thermostat.
Once you’ve squared those issues away, it’s finally time to decide which smart thermostat you want. Though if you already have a suite of smart home devices, the need to stay in ecosystem will make the choice pretty clear. Here are the best options out there right now.
Best for Alexa Smart Homes: Ecobee SmartThermostat
Works with: Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT
Released in 2019, the Ecobee SmartThermostat is a new and improved version of the Ecobee4. It’s probably best for people who have an Alexa smart home because it comes integrated with Alexa, just like the Ecobee4, meaning you can use it just like an Echo smart speaker (only you can also adjust the temperature with your voice). You can stream audio directly to the thermostat via Bluetooth or Spotify Connect, or ask Alexa to play something or answer questions about the weather. That said, the Ecobee SmartThermostat is also compatible with Google’s and Apple’s smart ecosystems, so it’s really an excellent option for anybody. In addition to improved Wi-Fi connectivity and large intuitive touchscreen display, a great feature is that Ecobee SmartThermostat comes with a smart sensor that makes it easier to control the temperature of rooms that futher away from the thermostat. If you have a larger home, you can buy extra SmartSensors ($79/2-pack) for relatively cheap.
Best for Google Smart Homes: Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation)
Works with: Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit, Google Assistant, IFTTT
The Nest Learning Thermostat is the best smart thermostat for most people. It’s the smartest in the industry, able to learn from you and your family’s habits and plan the temperature so that you don’t have to. It uses built-in motion sensors to detect if people are home. It’s simple to summon your energy usage reports, so you have a better idea on how your home’s heating and cooling systems are functioning. The device itself is elegant and easy to use, with a beautiful LCD touchscreen and a huge rotating dial. You can set up separate room sensors for more accurate temperature control. It’s also compatible with all the major voice assistants. (Note: the Nest Thermostat E is a more affordable alternative with very similar features and capabilities.)
Best Budget: Honeywell T5+
Works with: Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
C-Wire: Yes (comes with adapter)
The T5+ (released mid-2018) is the upgraded version of the Lyric T5 (released late-2017), and it boasts two notable differences. First, the T5+ also works with Google Home in addition to Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa. And second, it comes with a C-wire adapter so it’ll work with both newer and older HVAC systems. Like the previous model, the T5+ is an affordable smart thermostat for any smart home. It doesn’t have a built-in assistant, but if you have an Alexa- or Siri-enabled smart speaker you can adjust the temperature using your voice. It uses geofencing, meaning that it can be programmed to automatically turn on/off when you’re arriving/leaving the home. You can program heating/cooling schedules for up to a week out.