If you’ve only had a normal, old-fashioned programmable thermostat so far, you may not know what you’re missing out on. Smart thermostats can adjust your temperature according to a schedule you set, but can also decide what temperature is optimal on their own, without any input from you.
Thanks to the use of apps and integrations, several smart thermostats also know when you leave the house and can automatically adjust the temperature accordingly. All in all, smart thermostats are more than just convenient – they can add up to substantial savings in the long term.
With that said, while most smart thermostat owners are looking to get a return on their investment in terms of savings, some budget smart thermostats are simply not competent for their purpose, which defeats the entire purpose of investing in one in the first place.
We’ve compiled some of the best options to help you decide which is the best smart thermostat for you for a good balance between features, capabilities, and affordability.
Features you should look for in a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats are equipped with a ton of features that will help ensure your home is always at a comfortable temperature and work around the clock to reduce heating and cooling costs.
Hence, your option must come with features that enable the smart thermostat to perform its purpose of balancing between saving energy and maintaining a comfortable temperature optimally.
Cheaper models usually come with the basics that allows you to connect the device to your local WiFi network. From there, it can connect to your smartphone and allow you to essentially use your phone as a remote control, adjust settings and more.
Usually, more basic smart thermostats only automate temperature in a seven-day schedule, and allow the option to override the schedule if anyone in your family has an exception to the schedule.
More advanced smart thermostats are the ones with deep learning functionality, where the smart thermostat can track when you leave and return home, as well as account for heating trends over time, and create a cooling and heating schedule based on when you home or away and what your preferred temperature is when at home. These more sophisticated schedules are the ones that will make a far bigger impact in cutting down your energy bills.
There are also several hardware features, such as a colorful touch display, that are worth considering as well. A great display makes it easy to adjust and program the thermostat and is readable from a distance.
How do Smart Thermostats work with the rest of your home?
It goes without saying that you should look for a smart thermostat that will work with as many of your existing smart devices as possible. Most of the time, it’s best to stick with products of the same manufacturer to ensure that your devices are integrated seamlessly with one another.
With that said, several workarounds can still work if done right.
IFTTT (If This Then That) is a great software that allows your smart thermostat to trigger, or be triggered by other IFTTT-enabled services or devices around your home. For example, you make an integration that turns on a smart air conditioner when your thermostat reaches a certain temperature.
Most of the more recent smart thermostats support voice commands from Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant voice commands, letting you change the temperature using your voice.
On the higher end models, some even have built-in Alexa voice controls. This means you can do just about everything that an Echo speaker could; where you can use voice commands to do things like playing music, adjusting lighting, check the weather, and way more.
Can you install a Smart Thermostat yourself?
Smart thermostats are fairly easy to install. If you have a few tools around, you can easily get it done yourself! Check out our guide on how to install a smart thermostat for a step-by-step breakdown on how to do just that.
Most smart thermostats are compatible with multi-stage heating and cooling systems, but if you plan to control other equipment such as dehumidifiers, ventilation systems, and heat pumps, you’ll need to make sure you choose a thermostat that properly supports those devices.
In fact, it is suggested to have a professional HVAC technician install the thermostat for you if you have a sophisticated multi-component HVAC system.
Now that you know the basics of smart thermostats, let’s go over some great options out in the market today.
Best Smart Thermostats in 2022
Ecobee’s SmartThermostat with Voice Control is a full-equipped Alexa device that is by far the best all-rounder among all options.
If you want a smart thermostat that has it all, look no further than this.
With its built-in microphone, it can stream Spotify, become a hub for ecobee’s cameras and entry sensors, and even connect with Apple HomeKit.
Despite being primarily designed to control the temperature of your house, this device can do so much more.
Another notable feature is the remote sensor. This remote sensor ensures that the temperature is comfortable in a specific location, not just where the thermostat is placed.
This goes a long way if you have an area where you want to prioritize heating or cooling a certain area even if the thermostat’s actual location is at the right temperature.
Using voice commands to control the ecobee is straightforward, and the intuitive app gives you access to additional data, such as the temperature in each area where you’ve placed a remote sensor.
As far as automation goes, eco+ mode will learn your schedule and adjust the temperature automatically to save you money while still giving you the freedom to set temperatures manually.
Overall, the ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control is an excellent option that covers all the bases you could ever want in a smart thermostat.
The Google Nest is distinctive with its “modern retro” look that stands out among other options design-wise. It also comes in way more finishes than any other smart thermostat.
Google Nest is also super simple to set up if you have a compatible HVAC system.
Once installed, you simply go through a couple of set up menus, connect it up to your Wi-Fi network, and sit back and let the Nest figure out your schedule.
Google Nest intelligently uses its integration with the wider Google ecosystem to learn your schedule to adjust temperature.
Going a step further, the Nest also considers how long it takes to get your home to the right temperature. This is a great feature that is best executed on the Nest that truly makes it the best smart thermostat for automation.
Before you know it, the Nest should be able to perfect its learning and you’ll have the perfect temperature in your home without any inputs whatsoever.
The Nest is also great on the integration front, it connects well with the Nest Cam, Nest Hub and more. It can also connect to Alexa.
Also, if you’re interested in the ecobee’s remote sensor capability, you can integrate those into your Nest setup. Integrating it this way only senses temperature, omitting motion sensors to tell if anyone is physically in the room.
One downside of the Nest is the lack of Apple’s HomeKit, so you might want to pass this option if you’re heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem.
If you like the idea of the cost savings from a smart thermostat but can’t quite justify the upfront cost, the Sensi might be a great option as it’s far more affordable than the rest.
The Sensi can be had for approximately half of the cost of more premium models, such as the Nest and the Ecobee, but compromises on its aesthetics to hit this price point.
However, the Sensi is still fully equipped in terms of functionality, and does not compromise on practicality at all. The Sensi knows when you leave and arrive, and adjusts temperatures accordingly.
It’s also voice-compatible with Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, and even Samsung’s SmartThings home automation ecosystem.
The Sensi also has the benefit of being more focused as a smart thermostat, making the menus more intuitive to navigate. The display is plenty bright, easy to read, and easily understood even for those who are not as inept with tech products.
Just like other models, the Sensi can also be paired with your phone to adjust your schedule, settings and access dashboards on your energy consumption.
If your budget is tight for a smart thermostat and you can live with the less than appealing looks of the Sensi, it’s a highly recommended budget option that will tick all the boxes.
The ecobee3 lite Smart Thermostat is a more cut-down version of its fully-fledged sibling, and the key difference here is that it is only ‘smart’ because it can connect with other smart devices.
To be clear, the Lite version of ecobee’s smart thermostat will not be able to learn your schedule and make adjustments for you – the best it can do is to follow pre-programmed schedules that you set ahead of time.
For some, that might just be what they are looking for. Schedule learning is a nifty feature to have, but some might find their schedules to be far too sporadic for that.
That’s where the Lite comes into play, as it still offers the conveniences that you’d expect out of a smart thermostat, such as integrations with a wide variety of smart home ecosystems, such as Google, Alexa, Google, Samsung SmartThings, HomeKit, and more.
All in all, the ecobee lite is a budget-friendly option that still retains the attractive ecobee aesthetic and is programmable enough for most.
Do note that the ecobee3 lite requires you to have a C wire to power the display. If you have an HVAC system that does not have a C wire, you will have to find a workaround for a C wire.
If you do have the C wire, though, installation is a breeze and you can have it up and running in no time.
If your home doesn’t have central heating and air conditioning, the Mysa Smart Thermostat is for you. The Mysa is one of the few products designed to be attached to each baseboard, but this does come with its own unique challenges.
The thing with installing a smart thermostat on a non-centralized heating system is that you’ll need to install a Mysa on each baseboard.
At an average of $150 apiece, covering your home with Mysa smart thermostats can quickly add up, but if you only need it for just one or two rooms, then the cost is roughly the same as any other smart thermostat. Also, should you need to, you can set up multiple Mysa devices via the mobile app to control them as a group – this essentially allows you to have multiple different HVAC systems working together to achieve the same temperature.
The biggest challenge with the Mysa will be installation, where the multi-wire configuration is much harder to figure out. More often than not, you’ll want to hire professional help with this.
Apart from that, the Mysa is a joy to use, with its brilliant display with touch-sensitive buttons and its comprehensive smart home integration with Google, Alexa, HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, and more.
If you don’t have a centralized HVAC system and still like the idea of a smart thermostat, the Mysa should be on your shopping list.
Google Nest, not to be mistaken with the Nest Learning Thermostat, is the budget variant in the Nest line.
Coming in at about $100 cheaper than the flagship model, the Nest Thermostat doesn’t look quite as polished and is controlled with a touchscreen rather than the iconic spin-and-press interface.
With that said, it’s still sleek and retains the recognizable round Nest aesthetic. In terms of software, the Nest now uses the Google Home app for smartphone control instead of the standalone Nest app.
While the Nest is perfectly capable of learning your habits and can sense if you’re moving around near the thermostat with its detectors, it’s not compatible with remote sensors like the fully-fledged Nest Learning Thermostat.
If the Nest Learning Thermostat is a little out of your budget and you can live with these small compromises, the Google Nest is a great buy thanks to its more modest price tag.
If you have a huge home and want to cover a lot of different areas, the Honeywell Home T9 is the perfect choice as it can pair up with up to 20 remote sensors. Do note that the T9 only comes with 1 of these sensors, and you’ll need to purchase additional ones separately.
With the T9, you can easily monitor and adjust temperatures in very large homes and even choose which rooms to prioritize.
The T9 comes with an industrial-looking simple touchscreen display, which admittedly makes it look dated next to the ecobee or the Nest.
That being said, the T9 does not fall short in integrations, thanks to the fully-featured app controls on your smartphone, along with Google and Alexa compatibility.
The T9 is peculiar since it doesn’t connect to other Honeywell smart products, but it works well with Samsung SmartThings. It’s also programmable with IFTTT for smart automation, like tracking when you’re home or away.
Installation is also straightforward for the T9, and the system even comes with a handy adapter if you have a HVAC system that lacks a C wire.
With the abundance of great options in the smart thermostat space, there’s no better time to invest in one to reap the benefits of energy savings.
The wide variety of options listed here are each outstanding in their own right, be it for different needs or price points. Choose the one that is best for your needs and you’ll be on your way to start saving on your utility bills!
Bernard spent the last five years writing professionally researched based content for multiple online publications. Before joining Home Security Hub, he worked on e-commerce stores, online courses and more. He has pieces and quotes published across the web, including on Manifest.com.