Year after year, Nest stays on top of the thermostat game with the 3rd Generation Nest Learning Thermostat. Nest recently released a newer model called the Nest Thermostat E, but it's so new there hasn't been enough time to really see how well it performs long term. Therefore, we went with the ever-popular 3rd Generation Nest Learning Thermostat as our top thermostat pick.
The beauty of Nest is that it makes controlling your heating and cooling a breeze and saves you money. It was the first thermostat to be ENERGY STAR certified and independent studies have proven that the Nest Learning Thermostat saves an average of 10-12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills. It essentially pays for itself in two years.
There's no need to program it, as the Auto-Schedule feature allows the thermostat to learn your schedule. It has built-in sensors to keep tabs on temperature, humidity, near-field activity, far-field activity, and ambient light. It also knows your phone's location, so it can keep the heat or AC off when you're not home. You can check in on your home or manually adjust the temperature right in the app.
The install is easy, and you can do it yourself in around 30 minutes. This third generation model is slim and sleek, made of stainless steel with a large clear display. It has a feature called Farsight, which makes it light up when it sees you coming to show you the time, temperature, or weather from across the room. It's compatible with Google Home and Amazon Alexa so you can truly go hands-free and simply verbalize the temperature settings you want.
The 3rd Generation Nest Learning Thermostat has an average 4.2 out of 5-star rating based on more than 13,000 Amazon customer reviews, and it has received rather stellar reviews from experts and tech analysts as well. It has a 4-to-4.5-star (out of 5) rating on PCMag and CNET, and is featured as one of the best thermostats on various product review lists such as The Wirecutter, LifeHacker, and Faveable.
Note that Nest has a new version called the Nest Thermostat E. It's less expensive, a frosted white design that blends in with white walls, and many of the same features. However, it's made of plastic, the display doesn't stay on unless you interact with it, and according to Nest, it will work with 85% of heating and cooling systems on the market (versus 95% of the Nest Learning Thermostat). The product has favorable feedback from customers and a 3.5-star review from CNET.
Pros: Cuts energy costs so much it pays for itself in two years, various smart sensors, aesthetically pleasing screen and interface, smart home compatible, learns your preferences so no programming needed, easy and cheap install
Sure, smart thermostats are nice, but you can also get a great programmable thermostat for much less money that will also save you some cash in heating and cooling costs. The Lux Products TX500U Universal 5-2 Programmable Thermostat only costs approximately $35, so it's a great option for bargain hunters.
The thermostat is easy to use and program. You can set weekend and weekday programs with two or four different periods per day. That way, your home's temperature stays where you want it whether you're at home to control it or not.
The Lux works with heating and cooling systems including single and multi-stage heat pumps. It should be fine with all systems, except electric baseboard heat. The thermostat has a large, easy-to-read display that shows the current temperature and the one you aim to change it to. The controls are simple and not overwhelming.
CNET calls it the best affordable programmable thermostat you can buy, and buyers on Amazon give it positive reviews for the most part, but nearly all negative comments concerned the battery.
Pros: Simple, easy to use, very affordable, programmable
In addition to handy remote access, the Emerson Sensi Smart Thermostat gives you the most accurate temperature settings and has a J.D. Power award to prove it.
Put your Wi-Fi to good use with this Emerson Sensi Smart Thermostat that makes it easy to remotely control and schedule your home's temperature settings. You simply connect the thermostat to your home Wi-Fi network, and then you can control it from anywhere via the Sensi app.
The app also makes the install an easy process eliminating much of the guesswork. You simply input the wires that are connected to your old thermostat, and the app will run through the possible configurations to select the one that best matches your home setup, providing illustrated step-by-step instructions.
Once it's set up, the thermostat has geofencing capabilities to automatically reduce energy usage when you're not home, saving you both money and time. You can use the location-based temperature control with geofencing or the seven-day flexible scheduling option to create home heating and cooling schedules. It even comes with a pre-loaded schedule that reflects common daily patterns. Conveniently, your temperature settings, even pre-programmed ones, can easily be changed no matter what your location, using the app.
Other features include the ability to control multiple Sensi Smart Thermostats from a single account, an indoor humidity sensor, and a secure cloud network. The Sensi features precision control accuracy of plus or minus 1 degree, so it keeps your home temperature within 1 degree of where you set it. As a smart device, the thermostat is compatible with Amazon Echo and Wink smart home so you can use your voice to control your temperature or control it using the Wink app or other Wink-compatible devices.
The Sensi Smart Thermostat is ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Smart Thermostat" by J.D. Power in the J.D. Power 2016 Smart Thermostat Satisfaction Report, based on 2,509 total responses, and is the only smart thermostat brand to receive a J.D. Power award.
On Amazon, the Sensi Smart Thermostat holds a 4.4 out of 5-star average rating based on more than 3,500 customer reviews. Customers mostly conclude that the thermostat is easy to operate and use and that it's a great solution for when you are far away often or if you just have a hectic schedule and don't want to have to worry about remembering to adjust your thermostat.
Many users compare it to the Nest and conclude that the Sensi is a better fit for their needs. The critical reviews tend to highlight problems that naturally occur when you rely on Wi-Fi.
Pros: Extremely accurate temperature settings, can be controlled remotely, convenient app that helps with installation, various temperature control options and settings
Cons: Requires consistently good Wi-Fi, not compatible with all small home products and setups
The Ecobee4 automatically controls the temperature of your home down to individual rooms and it doubles as a smart speaker.
The latest and greatest in smart thermostat technology is currently found in the Ecobee4. It's an updated model that comes with built-in Alexa Voice Service and far-field voice technology as well as accessory support for humidifiers, dehumidifiers, ventilators, HRV (Heat recovery ventilation), and ERV (energy recovery ventilation).
Ecobee takes a rather novel approach to temperature control by using a main base along with sensors that you place throughout your home. The Ecobee4 comes with one sensor, but you can purchase additional Ecobee Room Sensors with Stands in packs of two for $75.50.
Ordinary thermostats read the temperature in just one room, but the Ecobee4 goes a step further with the addition of room sensors that deliver the right temperature to the rooms that matter most. The room sensors detect occupancy and temperature to better manage your energy bills and comfort.
By keeping energy use low when it's not needed, the Ecobee4 saves you an average of 23% annually on your heating and cooling costs when compared to setting a thermostat at 72 degrees Fahrenheit and letting it be.
The entire system can be operated remotely using the Ecobee app on your phone. You can use it with Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT, and other platforms. As a bonus, the Ecobee4 is hardwired so it doesn't rely on a battery to charge itself and thus can provide more reliable heating and cooling.
When you do what to interact with the main Ecobee4 base, it has Amazon's Alexa Voice Service built-in, so, in addition to changing the temperature hands free, you get the same voice command options you get with an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot such as weather and sports updates, turning Alexa-enabled devices such as lights on and off, hearing a joke, and much more.
Voice recognition is embedded with the microphones along with a speaker engineered for a clear Alexa voice and sound. Its touchscreen base display isn't only modern and aesthetically pleasing, it's also is easy to use and fast to respond. If that wasn't enough, the entire system has a fast and easy install process with step-by-step directions delivered right to your phone along with free expert support and a comforting 3-year warranty.
The Ecobee4 has received rave reviews from tech experts including a 4.5 out of 5-star rating on CNET. Tom's Guide gives it a 9 out of 10-star rating, while Digital Trends gave it a 4 out of 5-star rating. It's also TechHive's favorite smart thermostat, followed by the Nest Learning Thermostat. On Amazon, the Ecobee4 holds a 4.1 out of 5-star rating based on more than 300 customer reviews.
Pros: Unique sensor system provides optimal temperature to each room, saves on energy costs, open API offers dozens of control options, remote access, aesthetically pleasing touchscreen design
Cons: Price can add up with additional sensors, Alexa integration is far from perfect
If you want something a step up from a mechanical thermostat but don't need anything too complicated, this Honeywell TH3110D1008 Pro Non-Programmable Digital Thermostat is the way to go. This model is still super affordable but has a few extra features that make controlling your temperature settings more convenient than using a mechanical thermostat.
It has a backlit display that is easy to read in any lighting conditions. The digital display lets you see current temperatures and set new ones at the same time, so you're never left guessing when the temperature you set actually kicks in. It also has two slide switches on the front for greater temperature accuracy: one to select heat, cool, or off and one to turn the fan on and off.
When it comes to temperature, you can easily get the precise settings you want with two simple buttons. This Honeywell model also comes with a 5-year warranty which provides some financial peace of mind.
The Honeywell TH3110D1008 Pro Non-Programmable Digital Thermostat is listed in Thermostats.me as the "Best Digital Thermostat" and in Thermostat Guide as the best non-programmable digital thermostat. On Amazon, this model holds an average 4.5 out of 5-star rating based on more than 500 customer reviews.
Amazon customers often highlight the simplicity of the product as a perk. Others note that the display is a bonus, such as one customer who likes not having to go switch on lights to use it. The critical reviews mainly speak of gripes with the manufacturer and say that the install is difficult. One reviewer turned to YouTube for assistance.
Pros: Price, easy to read display, convenient switch controls
Cons: Can be hard to install, multiple manufacturer issues reported
First, you need to identify what HVAC system you have. HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning and is the technology of indoor and vehicular environmental comfort. You'll need to determine if your home is fitted with 1 Stage, 2 Stage, Direct Line Voltage, 24mV, or Zone heating and cooling to decide which thermostat will be compatible with your home.
1 Stage heat or cool is where you have separate heating and air conditioning units.
2 Stage or multi-stage heat or cool is heating or cooling units that have a high and low speed.
Direct Line Voltage is usually either a 110 or 240 direct current power source used in some older homes to power the thermostat.
Zoned heating and cooling, also called Zoned HVAC, is heating and cooling that is individually controlled in different areas from the same HVAC system.
You want to pay attention to the equipment the thermostat is meant to control, as some are intended to control a furnace only, and others will control a furnace and an air conditioner, a heat pump, or equipment that operates in multiple stages. If this all sounds confusing, there's no need to worry. Any legitimate thermostat manufacturer will clearly label which type(s) of home HVAC systems each model is designed to work with.
The two main types of thermostats are line-voltage and low-voltage. A line-voltage thermostat is meant for single heating systems such as radiator valves and baseboard heaters. A line-voltage thermostat is usually installed in stages with the HVAC and operates at 240V.
Low voltage thermostats operate between 24V and 50V and are normally used in central heating and cooling systems that use electricity, oil, or gas. Low voltage thermostats are efficient and accurate and often have programmable controls.
Regardless of your current system and the models that work with it, one thing you do have full control over relates to a single wire called the C, or "common" wire. It's a fifth or extra wire that provides the negative charge needed to supply enough power to support extra features newer thermostats have such as colored touchscreens. Some thermostats can use a C- wire but don't require it. Again, manufacturers will typically clearly label if you need a C-wire or not, but if you're unsure it's usually best to have a specialist take a look at your current system along with the type of thermostat you plan to purchase.