Home « 

How Does a Smart Thermostat Work? Smart Home Tech Guide

nest smart thermostat showing 73 degrees
This post may contain affiliate links from the Amazon Associate program.
Spread the love
Reading Time: 6 minutes

We often get this question from most homeowners: “how does a smart thermostat work?” Well, thermostats are not equal. They come in different designs, sizes and with a range of setups. This guide will take you through popular mechanisms used on different thermostats and their advantages. By the end of it, you’ll also know about a few different brands to buy from that are of high value.

What is a Smart Thermostat?

A thermostat is a temperature regulator that uses a mixture of different metals to power appliances like thermometers, water heaters, and HVAC Systems ON and OFF. But when you connect a thermostat to the internet, it becomes a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats are mainly used on HVAC systems for heating, air-conditioning, and ventilation. They are programmable and connect to devices like cell phones for remote control.

Do Thermostats Save Money?

Smart thermostats learn your heating behavior and reschedule your home heating plan to help you save both energy and time. Typically, they can know when you’re leaving for work to keep the temperatures low. Some settings also detect your presence and raise the temperature to a degree of your preference.

You don’t have to leave the HVAC system running to keep your home warm when you’re away. A smart thermostat helps you to create a schedule. They’ll gradually tune into your behavior so that you don’t need to reset the system frequently. For example, if you’re always keeping the temperature at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the day and 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the night, a smart thermostat will decode that. So next time you forget to set your temperature, it simply turns to your daily norm.

The best part? Smart thermostats know the duration it takes to heat different rooms. So you can schedule when to begin heating your home, even in emergencies.

smart thermostat on wall set to 63

How Does A Smart Thermostat Work?

A smart thermostat provides many features besides controlling the temperature of your home. It tracks your activity, monitors your presence, and provides a schedule. A smart thermostat contains a small computer with an operating system that runs entirely on its own.

You’ll need to connect the system to another secondary computing device through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a secondary app. Once you’ve established a connection, you’ll be able to control all the features remotely. To fully explain your question about how does a smart thermostat work, let’s delve into the distinct feature that makes it unique.

Remote Control With Phone

Unlike traditional thermostats, a smart thermostat allows you to connect to your heating system and control the temperatures with a cellphone. The smart thermostat comes with a pre-installed home app that is compatible with Google Alexa and Nest App.

You can download both the Nest app and Google Alexa on Playstore or Apple iStore. Install any of the apps and configure them with your thermostat’s home app. Whenever there’s nobody at home, the thermostat switches to eco-temperature automatically. However, you can manually switch the setting to warmer or a bit cooler. This setting can be useful, especially if you want to keep your home warm during winter, “chilly winter” is redundant.

Both Nest and Google Alexa also have a button called “heat to.” This button allows you to heat your home to a specific temperature. So, when the thermostat reaches the desired heat level, it either maintains the temperature or drops.


Geofencing allows you to control your thermostat based on your location. However, to do that, you need to install another app called the Sensi for thermostats. Once you’ve installed the app, configure it with your thermostat’s home app. The Sensi app captures where you’re and relays it to your thermostat. Whenever you’re three miles from home, Sensi notifies the thermostat to switch to eco mode. But when you travel back within a three-mile range, the thermostat reverts to a temperature you set before.

Motion sensors

Some smart thermostats, like Ecobee brands, come with built-in motion sensors, while others do not. So, before you buy, check the product package or inquire from your seller. Thermostats with motion sensors can detect any slight movement in a room. So, when you leave, the sensor notifies the thermostat to shut off or decrease the temperature. And when you’re back, the thermometer reverts to your preferred setting. This way, you’re able to maximize energy and cut electricity bills. Also, you can switch off the motion sensor by disconnecting it from the wall or disabling the app, especially during winter.

Daily Schedules

An important part of understanding how does a smart thermostat work are by understanding the scheduling function. Like motion sensors, not all thermostats are completely programmable. While others, the time scheduling option is completely overridden. To know what you’re getting, make sure to read the product description prior to purchasing. Programmable thermostats come in four main categories, with each featuring different settings. They include:

  • One Week Programming: This thermostat allow you to set a single cooling or heating plan the system will repeat daily for seven days. You can only shift to another setup after the end of the week.
  • Seven-day Programming: This option suits an erratic schedule. It’s the most flexible, allowing you to set different plans every 24 hours.
  • 5-1-1 Programming: This configuration allows you to set a single heating/cooling plan that runs for the whole week. However, you can curate a plan for Saturday and Sunday.
  • 5-2 Programming: This configuration also allows you to set a single heating/cooling plan that runs for the whole week. The same setting also applies to Saturday and Sunday.

Self-Learning Thermostats

These devices are currently the most advanced. They use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to learn and adjust to your temperature requirements. When you buy a new self-learning thermostat, you’ll have to introduce the device to your routine. The system accepts a set of algorithms that it uses as a reference point when scheduling a plan.

Factors to consider when programming your device include:

  • Waketime
  • Sleep time
  • Return time
  • Leave time
  • Seasons such as winter and summer

Some other features you’ll find in a self-learning thermostat include:

  • Geofencing support
  • Motion-sensing
  • Compatibility with Nest and Life360

woman in green sweater adjusting thermostat through cell phone

List of Items to Buy

Now that we’ve fully answered your question on how does a smart thermostat work, let’s look at three outstanding devices that offer real value:

Google Nest Learning Thermostat

Google Nest Learning is currently the #1 bestseller of Nest, and for a good reason. This machine is exclusively auto-scheduled. You don’t need to program it since it features natural learning AI support to sync into your life. Additionally, it’s compatible with Google Nest App and Alexa Voice for remote control. But the most critical feature is the geofencing that adjusts the temperature when you leave. Google Nest Learning stores the history of all plans it syncs. You’ll find databases about energy consumption throughout the weeks in case you need one when paying your bills.

Honeywell Home Wi-Fi Thermostat

If simplicity is your top concern, then Honeywell Home Thermostat should be your priority. This device connects to Honeywell Home App for remote control. It also accepts Alexa, Google Assistant, and the Total Connect Comfort app. The Honeywell thermostat has daily utility programs and seven buttons at the edges for scheduling. The backlit digital display lets you access daily reminders and temperature notifications. Weight shouldn’t be your main worry, since the thermostat is only 1.2 pounds. It improves your comfort level and helps you choose the right schedule for your home.

Ecobee Smart Thermostat

The Ecobee Smart Thermostat is a valuable addition to home decor. It comes in a sleek design that consists of a touch screen and a smart sensor. But best of all, it relays news, plays music, and controls your home’s temperature. This machine is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Nest App. But if you love Siri or Apple Homekit, it doesn’t limit you from using them. And since the Alexa is in-built, you don’t need an external speaker to relay notifications or listen to the news. Ecobee Smart doesn’t come with an auto-schedule. As such, it’s a valuable piece for use in winter to keep your home’s temperature warm.

happy family in kitchen

Recap on How A Smart Thermostat Works

Smart thermostats use a variety of settings to work efficiently. Among them are geofencing, AI learning, and motion sensing. Smart thermostats also connect to cell phones using apps such as Alexa, Nest, and Google Assistant.

Are you looking to integrate more smart home technology into your home? Look no further. ONIT Home offers great smart home equipment to make your daily life integrated and easier. To find out more, visit us online or give us a call today at 1-833-433-0331. 

Spread the love