The HVAC system in your home is one of the biggest sources of energy usage within your home. But it can also be a massive source of energy waste if you don’t optimize how you heat and cool your home. The best smart thermostats do this for you, learning your heating and cooling preferences and helping you save on energy bills by reducing HVAC use when you’re not at home.
Most modern homes can support a smart thermostat, and installation takes less than 30 minutes in most cases. Some higher-end thermostats use machine learning to look at how you use your thermostat over time, eventually setting themselves without you needing to.
We consider smart thermostats a luxury in the smart home and suggest you first build out your smart home with video doorbells, a smart speaker, or smart cameras. But if you plan to get serious, the smart thermostat is a great buy.
Worried that your energy provider can control your smart thermostat? Read this blog on the subject to learn more.
Best Smart Thermostats
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Any of our recommendations above for the best smart thermostats are solid, but we personally recommend the Nest Learning Thermostat as it’s the best overall value, in our opinion. While it’s one of the more expensive smart thermostats out there, it’s also one of the best when it comes to the “smart” side of things. They should, too: the Nest Learning Thermostat is one of the original smart thermostats.
Over time, the Nest Learning Thermostat becomes very good at anticipating your heating and cooling needs. Owners tell us that they rarely touch the thermostat after the initial training period. If you don’t need the advanced learning capabilities, choose the Nest Thermostat instead — which still helps you save money on your utility bills.
We’ve also heard many great things about the ecobee Smart Thermostat, especially the version with Alexa built-in. If you’re looking to make a statement on your wall, however, we suggest the GLAS Thermostat instead. The GLAS not only helps control your HVAC system but can also report on your indoor air quality too. The thermostat display itself is a translucent OLED touchscreen — which gives it a super-futuristic feel and look.
As we said, competition is pretty fierce between the best smart thermostats on the market, so we’d recommend any of the above smart thermostats if you’re looking. Every device in our recommendations is a solid performer.
Choosing the Best Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats are compatible with most HVAC systems except for baseboard heating and older “millivolt” systems. While there are options for baseboard heating smart thermostats, We found no truly smart thermostats for millivolt systems. This is because (as the name suggests) insufficient power is delivered to the thermostat to power the necessary functionality, like Wi-Fi and the display.
If you have the correct HVAC system, a smart thermostat will be an invaluable tool and pays for itself in a short time in the energy savings you’ll generate. Some utility companies offer mail-in rebates, usually $50-100, to purchase a smart thermostat — which helps offset their initial high cost even quicker.
The best smart thermostats also support the automatic home/away operation of your HVAC system. This is done through integrated sensors on the thermostat itself (all above except the ecobee has this) and/or optional accessory sensors that can be placed throughout your home.
Those accessory sensors will also report back to the main thermostat on conditions in other rooms, which will help heat and cool your home more effectively. Most also have the capability to talk with other smart thermostats in the home, which are found in large properties and commercial settings where separate thermostats might be desired for more precise control.