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Fluctuating temperatures across the country are driving up energy bills for many homeowners. As a result, many are seeking new ways to cut costs. If this sounds familiar, it might be time to consider investing in a smart thermostat. Investing in a smart thermostat can reduce energy consumption by 20-30%. At an annual savings of $180, you’ll see a return on your investment within the first two years.
With so many models available today, it’s hard to know which one to choose. Read on to learn how smart thermostats work, what to look for, along with a list of our favorite models.
What Is a Smart Thermostat?
While many people think programmable and smart thermostats are the same, they are only alike at their most basic level. Both can be programmed to adjust temperature settings based on your personal schedule.
Smart thermostats take things a step further. Using a Wi-Fi connection, these devices will learn your habits over time. While the specifics vary for each device, common features include:
- Ability to control remotely using your mobile device.
- Learns your schedule and preferred settings and automatically adjusts to meet those needs.
- Senses when you’re home, away, or have entered a space and adjusts settings accordingly.
- Allows you to adjust the schedule for special events, such as a vacation.
- Records internal and external temperature data to maximize performance.
- Notifies you when humidity levels get too low or high.
- Provides energy usage, weather, and system performance data.
- Notifies you when it’s time to replace the air filter.
Like everything else on the market, not all smart thermostats are created equal. Before making the investment, consider your needs and goals for this device. Let’s take a look at some other things to consider.
Before You Invest
When selecting a new thermostat, consider the type of system you have. Some devices only work with electric systems, while others only work with gas. Many smart thermostats on the market today work with gas and electric and offer dual-fuel support.
Another item to consider is if your system is already equipped with a common wire. Also known as a C-wire, the common wire connects to the smart thermostat. If your system doesn’t have a C-wire, not to worry. You’ll need to buy one that comes with an adapter or hire a professional to adjust the wiring.
It’s also important to check if your system needs a line-voltage or low-voltage thermostat. Line-voltage thermostats work with single-heating systems. Low-voltage thermostats work with central heating and air systems. The thermostats featured below only work with low-voltage systems.
Let’s take a look at some other features many homeowners find useful.
You can link with most smart thermostats through a mobile app. With the app, you can create an electronic boundary. This is called geofencing. When it recognizes you’ve entered or left that boundary, the thermostat adjusts automatically.
Many units come with the capability to adjust your home’s temperature remotely. This is done from your computer or smartphone’s mobile app.
Smart thermostats come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A large display makes it easier to manage your home’s temperature. A proximity sensor lights the dashboard when you’re close and dims it when you walk away.
If control is important to you, you’ll want a smart thermostat that alerts you to temperature changes in your home. Let’s say the temperature drops below freezing. If left alone, your pipes could freeze and burst.
If your thermostat sends alerts, it will notify you of this potential danger. You can protect your home by changing the temperature remotely from the mobile app.
Connecting to Other Household Smart Devices
Do you have other smart devices installed in your home? If so, look for one that can connect with those devices. Many thermostats can connect with lighting systems, smart switches, and IFTT-enabled devices.
Additionally, smart thermostats available today also enable you to control their settings with voice commands. Many systems connect using Google Assistant, Apple Siri, or Amazon Alexa. Some even have Alexa voice control built into the system. This allows you to play music, find out sports scores, and more.
Now, let’s take a look at our top smart thermostats for 2022.
Home T9 Smart Thermostat
The Honeywell T9 Smart Thermostat is one of the most versatile thermostats on the market. Its sleek, rectangular shape gives it a more modern appearance. Its bright display makes it easy to see the temperature. While this thermostat does need a C-wire, it comes with an adapter for easy DIY installation.
If smart home integration is important to you, Honeywell has you covered. The T9 connects with many smart systems, including IFTTT, Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Samsung SmartThings. It also has a geofencing feature, which adjusts the temperature when it senses you’re close to home.
The Honeywell T9 incorporates one of the greatest smart thermostat innovations: smart room sensors. These sensors recognize when someone is home and adjust the temperature. You can buy the T9 with a remote sensor for around $180, or without a sensor for around $149.
Nest Learning Thermostat, 3rd Generation
The third generation of Google’s Nest Learning Thermostat still has the original circular design. But this model comes with a larger display, a remote control, and comes in several metal finishes.
The Nest Learning Thermostat doesn’t need programming. Instead, it has an Auto-Schedule feature, which learns your habits over time. While it doesn’t have sensors, its geofencing feature lets it know when you’re home and adjusts the temperature.
When you select a temperature that saves energy, the Nest Leaf appears. You can save that temperature as a default to help save money. Take it a step further by checking the Energy History feature, which shows your past energy usage.
The Nest Learning Thermostat works with 95% of heating and cooling systems. An added bonus – installation is a breeze. While it can connect with a C-wire, connecting it may not be necessary. To determine if you need to connect the wire, check Nest’s compatibility checker.
The Nest connects with many smart systems, including IFTTT, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Samsung SmartThings. You can buy the Nest Learning Thermostat for $210 to $249, depending upon the metal finish you select.
SmartThermostat with Voice Control
The Ecobee SmartThermostat comes with Alexa and Siri already built-in. This provides more control over your system with voice commands. You can even use voice commands to make calls and play your favorite music.
Ecobee’s SmartThermostat has energy-saving features that offer an average annual savings of 26%. The SmartThermostat has a remote temperature sensor for temperature regulation. It will even recognize when a door or window is open and shut off to conserve energy.
This unit integrates with most smart home systems. These include HomeKit, Google Home, and Alexa and is compatible with most HVAC systems. Installation takes 45 minutes or less. The unit is $199 and comes with an extender kit for systems without a C-wire.
The Smart Thermostat Pro’s advanced features allow for customizable schedules. It is equipped with a geofencing feature. You can even limit temperature control to certain users.
This unit supports multistage systems. You can even pair it with wireless temperature sensors for added control. It works with Alexa and other Z-wave devices, further enhancing your smart home’s capabilities.
At $139, Alarm.com’s Smart Thermostat is one of the more affordable units.
Amazon’s Smart Thermostat is one of the most affordable options on the market. It lacks some advanced features like remote sensors. But, it does support most HVAC systems.
This unit does not integrate with platforms such as IFTTT, Assistant, or HomeKit. It does work with Alexa voice control, making it a great value for smart homes with the Alexa platform.
You can purchase this smart thermostat for $59.99 on Amazon without the C-wire adapter or $62.99 with the adapter. The unit is easy to install and program in our home.
If energy consumption is a concern for you, a smart thermostat may be a worthy investment. Before buying, check with your utility company. Many offer seasonal rebates, which will help increase the return on your investment.
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