You might have one of these in your home and don’t even know it, but don’t panic! What I am referring to is smart technology. As many know, smart technology is everywhere. It’s integrated into our daily lives and chances are at the very least you own a smartphone.
So with the rise in popularity of smart technology and smart assistances like the beloved Alexa and Siri, why wouldn’t you also want to make altering the temperature of your home that much easier?
At their core, smart thermostats were intended to be convenient. Not only can smart thermostats save you money on your heating and cooling bills, but they have plenty of other important features! When it comes to the practicality of a smart thermostat, they need to be capable of doing a few things to be valuable. It must be both easy-to-use and convenient.
In this brand new territory that is smart thermostats, it can be hard to figure out which one is best for you, so it’s best to know what’s out there and what each device offers. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list full of the different specs and features available to help you make an informed decision. From design to smart home system integrations and everything else in between, we’ve got you covered!
If there was one thing we noticed when conducting our research, it was the fact that the Amazon Ecobee4 came up a lot in our search for the top smart thermostats on the market! Apparently, many techies seem to believe that this device is a big contender in the game, so here are the details you need to know.
One of the major features of this device is a built-in Amazon Alexa smart assistant. Yup, you read that right; you can now conveniently ask your smart thermostat to start playing your “feel good” playlist… and adjust the temperature.
Having Alexa built-in with speakers eliminates the need for an Amazon Echo or another smart-assistant. Anything an Echo or an Echo Dot can do, your Ecobee4 can do… and maybe even does it better. This could be a major selling factor to some and to sweeten this deal, even more, the Ecobee4 is compatible with Google Assistant, Apple’s HomeKit and Samsung SmartThings.
Now onto the hard facts, besides Alexa, Ecobee4 comes equip with one remote sensor, but you can add up to 32 more if needed. Together with the occupancy detectors, these sensors spot occupied rooms so that each occupied room is at the target temperature. This is an optimal feature especially if you have cold spots throughout your house. These sensors are also equipped to detect if you’ve come home early or unexpectedly and will make the adjustments to your home’s heating and cooling settings.
As far as the display is concerned, this top dog is pretty easy on the eyes. The outer hardware features a square design with rounded edges and a solid black front finish. The user interface has a minimalistic look to it and users who like simplicity will appreciate this. The Ecobee4 also uses white and cool blue font colors to offset and provide a cool contrast with the black.
Tech authority CNET rates this responsive display device as the “Best Overall Smart Thermostat” for 2018 and has given it the “CNET Editors’ Choice Award,” but it might not have all the learning capabilities you may be looking for, like learning your home & away schedule. If you do end up purchasing the Ecobee4 don’t forget to download the app available on iOS, Android and even the Apple Watch for additional control! An Ecobee4 starts as a $189.99 investment on Amazon.
Google Nest Thermostat E
Twenty dollars cheaper ($169) and more widely available is the affordable Nest Thermostat E. What initially sets this device apart from competitors is the design choice for hardware or lack thereof. Unlike other similar devices, the Nest Thermostat E has a white plastic exterior. This white and gray inconspicuous thermostat might be a good option for those who like a simpler design.
Although the design for this smart thermostat isn’t groundbreaking per say, it does have intelligent learning features that make it a big contender at its price point. Being Google’s simple entry-level smart thermostat, it is fully stocked with the learning capability to adjust your home’s heating and cooling settings depending on whether you’re home or away.
So in essence, your Nest E can learn your schedule and preferences, making it easier on forgetful… and lazy homeowners. You can also control this bad boy from your phone with the app, which works on iOS and Android phones as well as some computers.
The Google Nest Thermostat E can also provide information about your home’s furnace, energy history and is compatible with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Google’s Nest line has one last thing to mention and that is being the very first smart thermostat (Nest Learning Thermostat) to get the Energy Star Certification!
Nest Learning Thermostat
The Nest Learning Thermostat may have the highest price tag on our list, but this device is not short on design, features, and necessities! Before you rule this one out because of the heftier price tag ($199 on Amazon), hear us out.
For starters, the design is pretty sleek and features the standard recognizable round display of Nest thermostat models. The device itself is made out of brushed metal and glass and sports a sharp color LCD screen.
You’ll quickly notice that this new generation of Nest Thermostats offers copper, stainless steel, black and white colors so that you can find the right aesthetic for your home. This smart thermostat seems rather easy-to-use, with its press and click interface and turn dial.
Under the hood, you’ll find plenty of practical features. Like its sibling, the Nest Learning Thermostat is also capable of learning your schedule, programming itself and adapting to the seasonal changes. You can either manually program it on the device or you can update the settings in the correlating phone app. This device also features the new “Farsight,” which means that your thermostat will light up when you walk by it or enter the room. Farsight shows you the temperature, time or weather.
Keep in mind with this specific smart thermostat, you’ll get a larger display, “Farsight,” color selection, geo-fencing support, and the ability to monitor your furnace or report potentially harmful low temperatures. These are quite a few additional bells, but a remote sensor doesn’t come standard with purchase.
You can easily buy a Nest Thermostat Sensor though. Different from Ecobee4’s remote sensors, these sensors don’t detect occupied/unoccupied rooms; they will heat priority rooms to the target temperature. The sensors work with the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat E.
Keeping true to the family, the Nest Learning Thermostat also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
As mentioned earlier this is the specific Nest thermostat that was the first thermostat to be Energy Star certified. The Nest Learning Thermostat, as well as the Nest Thermostat E, also claims that these thermostats have saved people on average between 10-12% on their heating bills and 15% on their cooling bills! It proclaims that the Learning Thermostat “can pay for itself” in under two year. These are huge statements and selling factors and if a device can save you money on bills that typically fluctuate, it should be heavily considered.
Honeywell Lyric T5
Unlike some of the other devices on our list, the Honeywell Lyric T5 Wi-Fi Thermostat was not made by industry giants Google or Amazon, but it still holds up in the pack. Setting itself apart from the others, one of the Honeywell T5’s marketing features is its geofencing. Geofencing works by monitoring your motions. You set up a 7-mile or 500-foot radius and if you leave the boundaries of your specified range, your device will switch to “Away” mode.
Just like Ecobee4’s sensors and the Nest E’s learning algorithm, this device is designed to save you money and energy. When your Honeywell Lyric T5 device senses that you’re within the boundary, it switches to “Home” mode. This can be a useful feature arriving home on those cold winter nights or hot summer days.
The Lyric T5’s design features a sharp, sleek dual-tone display. This gray-black smart thermostat sports a square shape, but the touchscreen user interface font looks somewhat outdated and can be a drawback to those who like a device that feels ahead of its time. The Honeywell Lyric T5 may not have all the features tech fanatics love, but it can be a considerable option for those looking for a smart thermostat with some slightly optimized basic features.
The Lyric T5 works with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home and is a more budget-friendly option coming in at $150.
Arguably, the most affordable smart thermostat on our list is the Lux TX500U, which is conveniently priced at $30 on Amazon & Home Depot. At first glance, the TX500U may look like your standard, run-of-the-mill thermostat, but this small, but mighty thermostat is both functional and programmable.
There really is nothing too spectacular about the design or display as the device looks similar to other typical thermostats. The TX500U sports a cream-colored finish and a cool blue backlight for the screen.
We wanted to include this thermostat on the list for those who may not be as technically inclined, but are interested in getting their feet wet in the pool of new thermostats. This device is helpful because it is programmable and saves your preset preferences. The Lux TX500 allows you to set weekday and weekend preferences.
Like the other thermostats, smart or programmable, the Lux TX500U can potentially save you money.
What separates the Ecobee3 Lite from its successor is that it doesn’t come bundled with a remote sensor or built-in Alexa, although it works with Alexa and starts slightly cheaper at $169 on Amazon. Yes, the Ecobee3 Lite works with Alexa and you can control this device with your voice as well, but it only works with certain Alexa devices (sold separately).
As far as design is concerned, the Ecobee3 Lite is very similar to its brother the Ecobee4, but without the glossy outer ring. The device is still pretty standard for the Ecobee line, but is still forward and advanced looking as well.
We decided to include this smart thermostat in our “honorable mention” section because although it is a little bit cheaper than the 4, it has some of the same features that the Ecobee4 has, but only missing some optimal add-ons.
With this smart thermostat, you’ll get support for room sensors (not included), ability to set schedules, Android, Apple Watch and iOS app control, free energy reports and is compatible with Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa.
The Ecobee3 Lite says that it will save you on average up to 23% on heating and cooling costs, which is a considerable amount of money.
Honeywell Lyric Round
The Honeywell Lyric Round is a smart thermostat by the Honeywell line that states it will “adapt” to your life and schedule.
Like many of the newer smart thermostats on the market, the Lyric Round has a white circular design and an easy-to-digest touch-screen display.
This smart device runs on geofencing technology to activate or turn off your heating and cooling preferences. You’ll also get notifications if there are changes in humidity or the temperature, and works with Apple HomeKit and Samsung SmartThings.
You can pull up some additional annual energy saving estimates with Honeywell’s “energy savings calculator.” Find out yearly savings for fuel costs, summer cooling, winter heating and more with your zip code. You can also find out if you may be eligible for rebates!
The Honeywell Lyric Round can be purchased on Amazon for $185.25.
Additional Benefits of a Smart Thermostat
Not all smart thermostats are created equally. Some come with the bare minimum features and some come with a few more bells and whistles. Other additional features that you can seek out when browsing for the right one for your place are smart thermostats that offer vacation scheduling, air filter replacement & maintenance reminders and power cycle alerts.
These additional features can be quite worth it, especially if you’re hung up on similar devices. Having a vacation scheduling feature that can adjust the heating and cooling settings while you’re away for an extended period of time, can be rather useful. Maintenance and air filter replacement reminders can save you money on additional repairs that may stem from not having a maintenance checkup or replacing needed items.
If you find yourself unsure of how to install and setup your new smart thermostat, contact your local heating and cool company and they can assist you with this… as well as making sure everything is plugged in correctly.
In conclusion, many of these smart thermostats ultimately pay for themselves by reducing the money you pay on heating and cooling bills. Some devices live up to this and some provide dividends a few years into owning the product.
When considering a smart or programmable thermostat, consider the basic functions first and then move on to the additional features to find which device is best for you and your home.