Brutal summer temperatures and unpredictable winters that go from ice storms and Polar Vortexes to slushy days with unnatural heat seems to be what we can expect from the weather gods these days. Ordinarily this kind of schizophrenic climate would mean exceedingly high costs for heating and cooling your home, but thanks to innovative, intelligent technology, such is not the case. These days its as easy as getting a smart thermostat for your home to not only curb your heating and cooling bills, but stay eco-friendly and keep your home the perfect temperature.
When choosing a smart thermostat we look primarily at three things: Ease of use, comprehensive features, and basic ability to maintain the temperature set. Incomprehensible dials and buried features that require advanced degrees to figure out might be smart, but they aren’t intuitive enough for us. We also want to make sure that whichever device you choose, it can work throughout your home, connect seamlessly to your devices, and be simple to install. Lastly, it needs to stay where it’s set and not range out, leaving you broiling or freezing. For winter wonderlands and summer lovin’, we’ve got the 5 best smart thermostats for you.
Sensi Wi-Fi Smart Programmable Thermostat by Emerson
Pro: Runs off basic batteries
Con: Does minimal learning and predicting
Supreme Simplicity: It’s easy for the low price and the sober design to turn you off, but that would be missing a lovely gem that’s also a killer bargain. Even the most ham-handed among us can usually install this without a fuss since it uses a pair of AA batteries and then hops onto your home WiFi connection. Control is handled via the predictable face of the unit or through equally uncluttered apps that give you the opportunity to program various temperature conditions on the device. A dashboard offers an overview of current temperature settings, energy saved, and allows you to change when and how the model operates. While it might lack some of the “learning” features of others, it gives you a lot of control without arguing with you about how to heat your home.
Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat
Pro: Minimal temperature variation
Con: Difficult to wire in if you don’t know what you’re doing
Plain Powerhouse: During the development of the popular Nest thermostat, heating and cooling giant Honeywell actually filed a lawsuit claiming that the Nest used some of their patented technology in its design. That in itself should tell you that there’s a lot of connective marrow between this less flashy home atmosphere system and the leading name on the market. While it’s savvy under the hood, the Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat has a pretty humdrum appearance. Using a blocky face with a big display that offers a lot of utility right on the unit itself, this has a very old-school feel even though it is fully accessible remotely through Android or iOS apps. Through those apps, you can hook in as many thermostats as your sprawling estate needs, so feel free to freeze out the in-laws staying in your guest cottage. Extensive information about each thermostat is available, or basic heat/humidity displays let you see what’s happening at a glance. With both a smart learning system and remedial manual adjustment, this is both wisely automated and dumbly simple for all users and circumstances.
Netatmo by Starck
Pro: Can be remotely accessed from anywhere
Con: Display is dark
Worthy Import: It might not be available in the United States, but the Netatmo is good enough to be our cross-culture thermostat of choice. It pairs with your smartphone and can work with your home’s WiFi so there’s less trouble getting it synced up than with many others. The design is pure minimalism with almost no physical buttons, but rather an interactive frame that keeps the design clean, utilizing multiple colors that fit into any room or decorating scheme. Through the app, you can see graphs of your energy expenditure as well as a monthly energy report to determine where money is being wasted and how you can adjust your heating and cooling schedule to better use your home’s natural insulation. Using the teachable Auto-Adapt features it can predict when you’re going to be raising or lowering the temperature and engage or disengage accordingly, anticipating your needs.
Pro: Seamless IFTTT integration
Con: Unit’s touchscreen isn’t very responsive
Dark Horse: Many smart thermostats offer the ability to change settings based on whether or not you are home, but most of them fail in realizing that just because you’re sleeping or sitting on the couch for a 9 hour Call of Duty / Netflix binge doesn’t mean you’re gone. With multiple motion sensors, the Ecobee3 is one of the best at knowing if the home is occupied and adjusting accordingly. These same sensors also help the thermostat to adjust based on your activity level, cutting back when you’re working out and ramping it up when you’re sedentary. The black body is slick and modern, which adds a touch of urban style to rustic homes and slips right in to more contemporary layouts. It’s powered by a common wire (C-Wire) which is more reliable than a battery, but can also cause hiccups during installation if you’re inexperienced in the DIY world. After installation, setup is simple as pie and use is intuitive for anyone who is familiar with a smartphone. The ability to add up to 32 remote sensors for more accurate climate control makes this the ideal expansion kit.
Nest 3rd Generation
Pro: Runs on a battery for use during a power outage
Con: Modest upgrades from the 2nd generation
Trendsetter: The 1st generation Nest by former Apple employee and true genius Tony Fadell became the thermostat to beat when it hit the market in 2011. Then they revamped their design with the 2nd generation, just to keep above the fold. With the 3rd generation, they’ve proven they can really hit the mark and stay ahead of increasingly tough competition. Slightly thinner than earlier models, but using the same round design with bright digital face, this model offers the ability to appear as a clock or thermostat depending on your needs. Both WiFi and Bluetooth LE compatible, this is probably the simplest sync we’ve ever seen from a smart thermostat and the quickest connectivity setup. Able to coordinate between other thermostats, there’s a degree of multi-room functionality, but it requires the purchase of multiple units, rather than offering a simple sensor-based solution. The friendly display is simple and helps you conserve energy by choosing a temperature even as it learns your habits and routines.