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3 Top Smart Thermostats

posted by on November 16, 2020 in Guides & Reviews, Health and Home, Home Improvement, Automation Systems, Green Tech, Top Picks :: 0 comments

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A smart thermostat optimizes the task of keeping your home at the proper temperature while saving you money by adjusting the temperature when you’re not in. Where simpler programmable thermostats require you to input a schedule, more sophisticated smart thermostats make use of AI to learn your routine and preferred temperatures over an initial few days of manual usage. The result? A house that’s the perfect temperature before you wake up or come home.

Smart thermostats also can detect activity in a room to lower or raise the temperature accordingly, and work with remote sensors to customize the temperature in different zones of the house. Heating and cooling are the biggest energy hogs in your home, comprising 43 percent of the average home’s energy use. So, “the savings can be a couple hundred bucks over a year, essentially paying off the cost of the device,” says Dan DiClerico, smart home strategist at HomeAdvisor.

Note: Always double-check the type of heating system your home uses against the specifications of your chosen smart thermostat to be sure it is compatible. You may want to call in a professional to help with connection to your home wiring – but once it’s installed, its smart features will take care of the rest.

In choosing the best smart thermostats, we took a look at three main things: 

1. Ease of use – How straightforward is it to setup and operate?

2. Usefulness – How much value does it add maintaining the optimal temperature in a home?  

3. Integration with other devices – How well does it play with other smart home devices, including smart home hubs? We looked for integration with popular smart home hubs such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings as well as products from the same company.

The best smart thermostat for most people: Google Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation

The best smart thermostat for most people: Google Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation

Offering a killer combination of smarts and aesthetics, the Nest Learning Thermostat has excellent learning capabilities that make use of humidity and activity sensors to predict when rooms should be heated and how long it will take based on environmental conditions. Nest Learning Thermostat also monitors the health of your HVAC system for anomalies in reaching or maintaining your target temperature. When you’re away, eco temperatures automatically kick in, saving on bills and reducing your checklist of things-to-remember.

The thermostat itself is a thing of beauty, with a minimal circular-glass display that glows and displays the time and temperature when someone walks into the room. There’s also a streamlined app for making manual adjustments and remote sensors (purchased separately) to track room usage in larger homes.

The Nest Learning Thermostat consistently receives outstanding marks – 4 or more stars out of 5 – from professional reviewers, including 4.5 stars (Editor's Choice) from PCMag, 4.5 stars from Tom's Guide, and 4 stars from Cnet. Consumers also love the Nest Learning Thermostat with reviews on Amazon averaging 4.5 stars, reviews on Best Buy averaging 4.8 stars, and reviews on Home Depot averaging almost 5 stars.

Learning: Yes
Works with external sensors: Yes
Additional features: On-display alert when an energy-efficient temperature has been reached, monitors the health of your HVAC system for sign of malfunction
Integration with other devices: Works with other Nest devices, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
Price: $249, on sale now for $199 on Google (check price on Amazon)

The best smart thermostat for large homes: ecobee Smart Thermostat with voice control

The best smart thermostat for large homes: ecobee Smart Thermostat with voice control

Along with top-notch learning features that customize warmth control to your specific space and routine, the ecobee Smart Thermostat with voice control is an Alexa smart speaker. The ecobee’s top-notch learning features customize warmth to your specific space and routine. You can also use your voice to turn down the heat, control other devices, message friends, play Spotify, and any other task a smart home hub can accomplish.

The ecobee has a built-in humidity sensor and comes with an external room sensor with a 60-foot range for better temperature control in larger homes. A vacation mode keeps temperatures at an energy-saving level (but warm or enough for plants) when you’re away, and if your energy costs are based on off-peak and peak pricing, the thermostat can automatically preheat or pre-cool your home during off-peak periods for further cost savings.

Reviewers love the ecobee Smart Thermostat with voice control with PCMag giving it 4.5 stars (Editor's Choice), Cnet giving it 8 out of 10, and Digital Trends giving it an 9 out of 10. Consumers give it high marks too: the ecobee has earned 4.6 stars on Amazon, 4.7 stars on Best Buy, and a high percentage of 5 stars on Home Depot.

Learning: Yes
Works with external sensors: Yes
Additional features: Can function as a smart speaker and comes with an additional sensor to track temperature in another part of the house.
Integration with other devices: Can control any device that works with Amazon Alexa, and integrates with Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit and Samsung SmartThings
Price: $249 on ecobee (check price on Amazon)

The best smart thermostat on a budget: Google Nest Thermostat

The best smart thermostat on a budget: Google Nest Thermostat  

Keeping things a little simpler is the new Nest Thermostat from Google, a non-learning thermostat whose smartness depends on sensors that detect when your smartphone is in the vicinity to adjust the temperature when you’re away. Via the Google Home app, it will also suggest energy-efficient preset temperatures for when you’re home, sleeping, or out, or you can set your own by swiping on the intuitive touch-sensitive bezel. Without support for external sensors, this Nest Thermostat is less suitable for larger homes than our other picks, but you do get a choice of four tasteful colours – “fog”, “sand”, “charcoal” or “snow”.

Professional reviewers love the just-released Nest Thermostat: Cnet gives it 8.2 out of 10, Android Authority awards it 4 stars, and PCMag bestowed 4 stars (Editor's Choice). Most consumers love it too, with reviews on Best Buy averaging 4.3 stars and reviews on Amazon averaging 3.6 stars. Those that don't like the new Nest Thermostat cite not knowing they needed a C wire to power the thermostat. So make sure your current thermostat has a C wire before purchasing.

Learning: No
Works with external sensors: No
Additional features: Geofencing to detect when your smartphone approaches and automatically start heating the home, monitors the health of your HVAC system for sign of malfunction
Integration with other devices: Works with other Nest devices, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
Price: $129.99 on Google (check price on Amazon)

[Image credit: Google, ecobee]



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