The best smart thermostats

  • A smart thermostat automates a home's heating and cooling systems for optimal comfort while helping save money and energy.
  • You can control a smart thermostat on a system panel, through an app, or even a voice assistant.
  • Our smart thermostat recommendations are easy to install, help a home climate system operate efficiently, and effortless to operate.
  • The Google Nest Thermostat E is our top pick for the best smart thermostat because it uses artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize your schedule, has an eco mode with geofencing, and is supported by an excellent app.

According to the United States Energy Information Administration, space heating and air conditioning make up more than half of the average home's energy consumption. If you're looking to cut down on your heating and cooling costs, a smart thermostat is a solution.

The latest smart thermostats include features like remote sensors, geofencing, AI machine learning, automation, scheduling, and much more. Because they can run your home's climate systems (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, or HVAC) more efficiently, there's a sustainability factor as well. Our guide recommends models that are a breeze to install, could help increase energy savings, and are effortless to operate whether manually, using an app, or over voice control.

When we examined each model, we considered its smart features, automation capabilities, and capacity for energy savings. We also noted how easy they are to install and operate. We explain our testing and research procedures in more detail as well as other models we looked at that didn't make the cut.
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Our pick for the best smart thermostat overall is the Google Nest Thermostat E, which is also our pick for the best thermostat in general. We like it because it's well-priced and it ticks the boxes on our checklist.

Here are the best smart thermostats you can buy:

Updated on 3/30/2020 by James Brains: We selected new recommendations based on new research and testing. We also noted what other smart thermostats we looked at, as well as how we picked which to recommend.

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The best smart thermostat overall

The best smart thermostat overall
With an affordable price and range of high-end features, including learning and geofencing, the Google Nest Thermostat E is your best option.

The Thermostat E (model number T4000ES) from Google Nest is a more affordable yet feature-rich version of the flagship Learning Thermostat (third generation). It's not only our pick for the best smart thermostat overall, it's also our best thermostat recommendation overall.

With the companion Nest app on your phone, you can control your home's HVAC system from anywhere, since the Thermostat E is connected to your home Wi-Fi. The app also guides you with simple instructions for installation, saving energy, and making temperature adjustments.

You can use the app to easily set up a schedule that keeps you feeling comfortable while at home, and save on energy costs when you're away or asleep. With its built-in sensor and geofencing feature, the thermostat can also turn down the heat or AC when you leave the house (additional sensors can be installed for larger homes). Nest has a learning function that automatically makes adjustments or recommendations based on your energy usage history. It supports both Alexa and Google Assistant, but it plays better with the latter, of course.

Although it functions like the more expensive Learning Thermostat, it only comes in durable white plastic (the Learning Thermostat is made out of metal and comes in many colors); it has a lower-resolution display that can be difficult to read; and it's compatible with 85% of HVAC systems (compared to 95% for the Learning Thermostat). You also can't pull up the time or weather on the display, as you can on the higher-end model.

However, the Thermostat E offers the same great smart functions as its sibling: Remote control, auto temperature adjustment, and the ability to learn your household habits and adjust the climate accordingly. As long as your HVAC system is compatible and you can do without the frills, the Thermostat E is a great buy. We also think the white plastic looks good, too.

Pros: Excellent app, features eco mode with geofencing, uses machine-learning AI to optimize your schedule, simple installation, attractive look

Cons: Doesn't work with most non-Nest/Alexa devices, the screen is difficult to read due to low contrast, doesn't support all HVAC systems

The best smart thermostat runner-up

The best smart thermostat runner-up
The Google Nest Learning Thermostat learns from your behaviors and the characteristics of your home to make adjustments that will improve your comfort and save energy.

The third-generation Google Nest Learning Thermostat (model number T3007ES) and our top pick, the Thermostat E, share a lot in common. Both work with several two-wire systems. Both integrate well with Google Nest smart devices and support Alexa. And, both have outstanding learning capabilities: The thermostats will start heating or cooling based on how long it takes for your home to adjust to the setpoints you have scheduled, so the temp will be where you want it, when you want it.

The biggest differences between Google Nest's top thermostats is the Learning Thermostat has a two-year warranty (versus one-year for the E), the Learning Thermostat's big display has a higher contrast for easier readability, and this model only costs about $45 more.

The Learning Thermostat is also available in four trims to complement your décor: stainless steel, bronze, copper, and white. If a longer warranty, higher contrast display, and choice of trim are important to you, this model may be worth the extra expenditure. Otherwise the Thermostat E works just as well with most HVAC systems.

Whether you pick this or the Thermostat E, both are solid options.

Pros: Learns from your behaviors and your home's thermal characteristics, geofencing, works with Google and Alexa smart home, easy to install, terrific app, high-contrast display

Cons: Pricier than Thermostat E with nearly the same functions

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The best budget smart thermostat

The best budget smart thermostat
The Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat is ideal for homeowners looking for an affordable, easy-to-use smart thermostat.

The Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat (model number ST55) stands out because it provides many of the same high-end features found in top-of-the-line smart thermostats that cost twice as much. The intuitive app has several video tutorials that make installation and programming tasks a breeze. And, it works with Amazon's Alexa.

You can set up geofencing in the app and also choose a custom flexible schedule. Saving on your energy bills is effortless thanks to the usage report generated by the device. If there are extreme temperature or humidity conditions in your home, the app will send you notifications immediately so you can avoid potential problems.

The unit itself looks more like a traditional thermostat and less like a smart home device. If you want the latter, Emerson has the newer Sensi ST75, but it costs $50 more and requires a C-wire.

Note: The first-generation Sensi Thermostat was recalled due to fire safety issues. You probably won't find this model for sale anywhere, but do make sure you buy one from a reputable retailer.

Pros: Accurate temperature readings, the app makes installation effortless, access HVAC settings from anywhere, custom temperature control settings and options, cheapest of our recommendations

Cons: Requires a strong Wi-Fi signal, not compatible with all smart home products

The best Z-wave smart thermostat

The best Z-wave smart thermostat
If your home's smart devices are already connected via a Z-wave hub, then the GoControl Z-Wave Battery-Powered Smart Thermostat might be a good way to integrate a thermostat into your automation scheme.

The GoControl Z-Wave Battery-Powered Smart Thermostat (model number BRO-NTBZ48) takes a unique approach to the "smart" paradigm. Rather than connecting to your home's Wi-Fi for remote access, the GoControl unit relies upon Z-wave technology. This has its pitfalls and advantages. Z-wave is great because it doesn't require much power so it can be used in a two-wire setup with batteries, or you can power it using a C-wire.

However, to get many of the features common in most smart thermostats, you have to rely heavily on your Z-wave hub or controller. One of the most popular solutions is the Samsung SmartThings hub, which allows you to adjust your home's setpoint from anywhere and to make a schedule. Unfortunately, on its own without a good Z-wave hub, the GoControl unit is basically just a non-programmable digital thermostat.

Pros: Affordable, uses low power-consuming Z-wave technology, doesn't require C-wire, can be battery-powered, can control multi-stage heating and cooling appliances

Cons: Requires a high-quality Z-wave smart home hub for most common smart features, including remote access and programming

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The best smart thermostat with voice assistant

The best smart thermostat with voice assistant
The high-quality speaker with built-in Alexa coupled with the intuitive programming and terrific app make the Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control well-worth its price tag.

All of our recommendations support voice assistants via a smart speaker, but the Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control is unique in that it has a built-in Alexa smart speaker, similar to an Amazon echo product. That means the SmartThermostat not only controls your home's climate system, but it can also stream podcasts and music, send messages or make calls, control other Alexa-compatible devices, and other skills you would use Alexa for.

If you already have Amazon Echo devices installed in your home, adding another one might be overkill. But, if you're outfitting your home to be smart from scratch or you hate having devices littered all over the house, this hybrid thermostat/smart speaker is an elegant solution. When placed in a social area, you can also use it for entertaining.

The SmartThermostat comes with a SmartSensor, which takes temperature readings and senses occupancy in the room where you place it. It reports this information back to the thermostat, which then adjusts the heat or AC.

I installed the SmartThermostat with two SmartSensors in my house. The sensors do a great job of taking accurate temperature readings and help regulate the comfort settings in my drafty, three-story house. I had a little trouble keeping the SmartSensors connected at first, but this was due to a bug in earlier models; Ecobee has since fixed this problem.

I like that I can easily set up a schedule using the app. And, after a few minor tweaks during first use, I no longer have to think about adjusting the thermostat anymore.

Although it's fun to ask my thermostat to tell my Roomba to start cleaning, I ultimately found the voice control to be more of a novelty. On the other hand, the speaker is quite useful: My thermostat is in the dining room, where it's nice to have a little background music once in a while.

Pros: Dual-band Wi-Fi, built-in Alexa, high-quality speaker, works with the most popular home automation systems, intuitive app

Cons: Doesn't work with all HVAC systems, difficulty connecting remote sensors

Read our full review of the Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control

What else we considered

What else we considered

While researching this guide, we considered dozens of smart thermostat models. Here are five that just missed the cut.

Honeywell Home RCHT8612WF T5 Plus Wi-Fi Touchscreen: There's a lot to like about this thermostat. It's affordable, supports Apple HomeKit and Alexa, and according to expert sites, like The Wirecutter, it works as advertised. However, it isn't as easy to use as the models in our guide, and you need a C-wire to install it. It also lacks the high-end features you find with the Nest and Ecobee units, like auto-creating custom schedules.

Ecobee4: The fourth-generation Ecobee was in the last update of our guide because it was the first thermostat to have a built-in digital assistant, Alexa. Plus, you can use it with a variety of other smart home systems. It's also easy to use and well designed. Though it's more expensive, the latest Ecobee SmartThermostat is a better solution since it has an outstanding speaker and comes with a SmartSensor.

Honeywell RCHT9610WFSW2003 RCHT9610WFSW Home T9: This Honeywell unit comes with a remote sensor that gauges the room's occupancy, humidity, and temperature and delivers comfort where you want it most. It also has geofencing, monthly energy reports, easy installation, and works with the most popular home automation systems, except HomeKit. Unfortunately, the thermostat doesn't allow you to use a schedule and geofencing at the same time – you have to choose one or the other.

Glas by Johnson Controls: The highlight of the Glas is its artistic, transparent display that allows it to blend with the wall that it's mounted on. In its resting state, there's no info on the display, but when it senses motion, it offers up the current room temperature, setpoint, and system state in large, easy-to-read characters. At this price point, one might expect all the whistles and bells, but the Glas is missing geofencing and on-thermostat password protection.

Schneider Electric Wiser Air Wi-Fi: Consumer Reports recommends this Schneider thermostat because its EcoIQ mode can learn the heating and cooling characteristics of your home and your behaviors and automatically adjust accordingly for maximum comfort. On the downside, it lacks geofencing, password protection, and the only way to create an operating schedule is in the app — you can't do it on the thermostat.

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What we look for in smart thermostats

What we look for in smart thermostats

There are many characteristics I look for in a high-quality smart thermostat. When possible, I test units firsthand. I also research the assessments of other established reviewers, like Consumer Reports and CNET. I'm able to compare the key performance indicators of top models after looking through the manufacturers' specs and analyzing my and other experts' testing and research.

Here are the main attributes we look at:

Installation: You can save hundreds of dollars by installing your thermostat yourself instead of hiring a professional. First, you must determine whether the thermostat is compatible with your wiring. Most manufacturers provide steps for doing this. Specifically, you'll want to determine whether you have a C-wire. If not, you'll need a thermostat that doesn't require a C-wire. Also, we try to find thermostats that install quickly — typically in under an hour — without the use of specialized tools.

Smart features: If you're shelling out the big bucks for a smart thermostat, you want the smart features. Popular features we look for are geofencing that can sense when you are home or away, learning based on your behavior and how your home heats up and cools down, remote sensors, compatibilities with digital assistants (e.g., Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, etc.), integration into smart home systems, and more.

Ease of use: Whether you're adjusting it manually, accessing it remotely via the app, or using voice controls, smart thermostats must be easy to use. This includes having an intuitive menu interface and maintaining a consistent Wi-Fi connection.

Automation: Though ease-of-use is nice, you also want to be able to set up your thermostat and forget about it. At a basic level, you should be able to schedule your thermostat to provide the most comfort when you are home and awake and to save money when you are away or asleep. Several smart features aid with the automation, such as sensors that adjust based on the temperature and occupancy of specific rooms, geofencing tracking whether you're home or away, and algorithms assessing how long it takes to heat and cool your home.

Energy savings: Though most smart thermostats are sure to pay for themselves in energy savings, the best models leverage smart features and your energy use history to save you even more. Energy Star certification is important and can earn you a rebate. All of the Wi-Fi-enabled smart thermostats in our guide are Energy Star-certified.