A smart thermostat can help lower your energy bills by automating the heating and cooling of your home. Some do this my learning how you use them for the first few days, then take control, making small changes which you might not notice, but will lower your energy use.
Other use sensors to work out which rooms are being used and which aren't, so energy isn't wasting on heating or cooling an empty and unused room.
With a Wi-Fi connection, smart thermostats can be controlled via a smartphone app, and many also tap into smart home automation platforms like IFTTT (If This, Then That) and Apple's Siri-controlled HomeKit. Many can be controlled by speaking to the Amazon Alexa and Google voice assistants, or be left to work automatically as you enter and exit your home (by knowing the location of your smartphone).
Nest is arguably the most popular name in the smart thermostat market. Before being bought by Google, Nest was founded by Tony Fadell, a former Apple engineer who is widely regarded as the father of the original iPod.
But there are many alternatives. Some come from seasoned home heating companies, others are the offsprings of startups fighting for a slice of the smart home cake.
Extra sensors tell the thermostat the temperatures of various rooms throughout the homeEcobee
The Ecobee4 smart thermostat comes with a separate sensor to help get the temperature just right in your most-used space. To combat the fact that thermostats are often located in cooler and little-used places (such as the hallway), the Ecobee's sensor tells the it how warm or cool it is in the rooms you actually use, like the lounge, kitchen and bedroom. That way, the thermostat will adjust the heating based on that room, not the cool hallway where it is installed. Extra sensors cost $79 for two.
While Nest thermostats only work with Alexa smart speakers like the Amazon Echo range, the Ecobee4 has Alexa built in. That means this is a thermostat with a microphone and speaker, which you can talk to. The Ecobee4 can read out the news headlines and weather forecast when you ask, help with a recipe, add items to your shopping list, and play music, all with voice commands. You can then pair it to a speaker to improve the sound quality.
The Ecobee4 is claimed to save up to 23 percent on your annual heating and cooling bills. Naturally, there is a smartphone app for remote control, and the Ecobee4 works with Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT and Apple HomeKit.
Nest Learning Thermostat
The Learning Thermostat from Nest is one of the most popular
Nest's Learning Thermostat is now in its third generation and is available in four different colors: stainless steel, black, white and copper.
When the Nest is first installed, you'll have to rotate it manually to turn the temperature up or down. But after a few days, the Nest will have started to learn what you like, and when. Eventually, the thermostat will manage the heating (and cooling) all on its own, turning things down when you are away, and off when on vacation.
It can be controlled via your smartphone if you need to change the heating remotely, and the unit's green leaf icon always suggests the best temperature to help save you money.
The $39 Nest Temperature Sensor helps you tell the thermostat how you like the heating in a particular room. With multiple sensors, you can put one in each room, use them to tell the Nest how you like the temperature (and when), and the thermostat will do the rest.
The Nest can be controlled with voice commands issued to the Google Assistant, but support for IFTTT (and likely Alexa too) will be terminated by Google on August 31, 2019. The company said on May 7 it will be closing its Works with Nest platform, ending interactions between all Nest devices and systems like IFTTT. Automation will instead be handled by Google's own new Works with Google Assistant program.
Nest buyers now also have to create their own Google account, if they do not already have one.
Hive Active Thermostat
UK energy company British Gas crossed the pond in 2017 and began selling its Hive smart thermostat system. Hive used to offer its thermostats along with a range of other smart home devices as part of a monthly subscription, but no longer does this. Instead, the thermostat can be purchased for a one-off fee of $170.
This also includes the Hive Hub, which is used to connect other Hive smart devices to your home Wi-Fi. The thermostat can be controlled via a smartphone app, or by speaking to your Alexa or Google Assistant smart speaker, if you have one.
Hive's system also offers smart lights, motion sensors, smart plugs and window or door sensors. The Hive Welcome Pack, which includes the Hive Hub and Hive Thermostat, plus a smart plug. a door or window sensor (which alerts you when opened), two smart bulbs, and one motion sensor.Read the GearBrain review here
Honeywell's Smart Color Thermostat with Wi-Fi
Tie the Honeywell Smart Thermostat with Wi-Fi to your local utility for extra savings.
The Honeywell's Smart Color Thermostat with Wi-Fi is a solid thermostat, one that can tie into your local utility company to help you save money. At about $200, you can often pick one up for less. Features include a vacation mode, plus a design element which lets you change the screen so it matches the wall color.
Honeywell also has a marketplace section, so you can search for deals with your electric company — in our review, we found savings of up to $85 plus credits on our bill. That's helpful, and can offset the cost of the actual device.
The smart thermostat also works with a wide range of systems and networks including Alexa, Google Nest Home, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Yonomi, Samsung SmartThings as well as Logitech's Harmony Hub. That makes this a smart thermostat that's versatile, allowing you to really work with the platform you prefer.
Nest Thermostat E
The E is a cheaper and simpler thermostat, but which still offers a range of smart money-saving features
Slightly cheaper than the regular Nest, this model is only available in white and features a simpler, minimalist display and interface. Despite its apparent simplicity, the Nest E still learns what you like, then turns the heating up or down to match your preferences in the cheapest, most energy-efficient way possible. The Nest E can be controlled from anywhere with the iOS or Android smartphone app, and it can also be instructed by Alexa, Google Assistant and a range of IFTTT applets.
Additional sensors can help tell the Ecobee3 lite the temperature in other rooms
Just as how Nest sells the cheaper, simpler Thermostat E, Ecobee offers the 3 Lite as a more affordable alternative to the Ecobee4.
Despite the lower price, the ecobee3 lite can be controlled by your iPhone or Android smartphone (or Apple Watch), works with the ecobee room sensors to only heat up the rooms you are using, and uses aims to reduce your heating and cooling bills by up to 23 percent annually.
The Ecobee3 lite uses local weather forecasts to use as little energy as possible to heat your home, as if sunshine is on its way, it will hold off on powering up the boiler. As with the ecobee4, this model works with a wide range of smart home platforms, including Apple HomeKit, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT and Wink.
Insteon Smart Thermostat
This Insteon hides its smarts by looking like a regular thermostat
Despite looking like a regular thermostat, this device hooks up wirelessly with the Insteon Hub to provide smartphone control and Amazon Alexa integration. There's also support for voice controls via Google Assistant, and an Apple Watch app puts climate controls on your wrist.
Insteon says its thermostat will work with almost all HVAC system, and it will integrate with other Insteon devices connected to your Hub, like switches, sensors and light bulbs.
Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker to see the other compatible products that work with Nest, Samsung SmartThings, Philips Hue smart lights, Insteon, Google Home and Home Mini and Amazon Alexa enabled device
How to Install Nest Smart Thermostat www.youtube.com