The best smart thermostats can save you a substantial amount of money on your utility bill—month in and month out—for as long as you live in your home. This is especially true this summer, a year in which many of us are experiencing record temperatures and record high prices for home air conditioning. A smart thermostat isn’t just convenient, it is possibly the most important smart device you can add to your home. Plus, many utility companies offer a mail-in rebate when you buy and install one.
If you’ve only had an old-fashioned thermostat until now, you’ve been missing out. Smart thermostats can control your temperature like clockwork, according to a schedule you set. Some can even figure out what temperature is best for your home, without any input from you. Over time, smart thermostats learn your preferences, schedule and habits and make adjustments to temperature accordingly.
We’ve carefully researched all of the latest and greatest smart thermostats and created this list of what we’ve determined are the best devices you can purchase right now, so let Forbes Vetted help you find the best smart thermostat for your home and budget.
Best Smart Thermostat Overall
Discover The Smart Thermostat That Does It All
Best Smart Thermostat For An Automated Smart Home
Google Offers A Truly Smart Learning Thermostat
Best Budget-Priced Smart Thermostat
Spending Less Than $100 Is An Intelligent Decision
Best Smart Thermostat For Electric Baseboard Heat
Sometimes A Specialized Smart Thermostat Is Required
Best Large Touchscreen Smart Thermostat
The Vine Thermostat Offers An Easy-To-View And Colorful Screen
Best Programmable Thermostat
Honeywell Wi-Fi Thermostat 9000
Best Smart Thermostat For Apple Users
This Thermostat Works With Your iPhone
Best Smart Thermostat With Alexa
Control This Thermostat Using Voice Commands Via Alexa
What To Consider When Buying A Smart Thermostat
While any thermostat can control your home’s central air conditioning and heating system, a smart thermostat lets you take control of your settings using your smartphone, smartwatch, smart speaker, computer—and in some cases, the voice-activated remote control of your TV. Let’s take a look at some of the features you should look for when choosing the perfect smart thermostat for your home.
Some designs blend into the wall and the surrounding decor, while others have a can’t-miss large display and still more have designs that are boxy and lack elegance. Choose a design that you like and find accessible.
While all of the smart thermostats have a display, not all of come with a touchscreen and even fewer have a color. Some models have soft or physical buttons; some work by manually rotating a dial. If you plan to control the thermostat primarily from your smartphone or using voice commands, a large and colorful touchscreen may not be a necessity for you. Choose a screen size that works for your room and usage and gives you a display that visually shows the information you want at any given time.
Assuming your home’s air conditioning and heating system is compatible with a traditional thermostat, any of the best smart thermostats should work—but check with the manufacturing to make sure your HVAC situation isn’t an outlier. Also, some models require a C-wire adapter for power, so again, check before buying. As for maximizing a smart thermostats “smart” abilities, look for one compatible with the equipment you’re already using. If you have an Android smartphone, you’ll want a smart thermostat compatible with Google Assistant; to use the thermostat with an Amazon Alexa smart speaker, look for Alexa compatibility. As an Apple user, focus on thermostats compatible with Apple HomeKit and Siri; some thermostats don’t work with HomeKit, but can still work on an Apple device, so watch the fine print.
When you use a smart thermostat’s accompanying mobile app, you can control from any Internet-connected smartphone or tablet. However, the native digital assistant built into your mobile device might not work with the thermostat.
If you know what you’re doing and are comfortable using basic tools, you can install most of these smart thermostats on your own in less than one hour, assuming you’re replacing an existing thermostat. However, many people find it easier to hire a licensed electrician to handle the installation and initial setup of a smart thermostat. Using the website (or mobile app) for the Thumbtack or Angi service can help you find a local, reputable electrician quickly.
By definition, a smart thermostat will connect to your home’s Wi-Fi and allow you to remotely control the device from anywhere in the world via your smartphone. You can also issue voice commands to the thermostat using a smart speaker or the digital assistant that’s built into your smart speaker, home hub, smartwatch or even your voice-controlled TV remote—that is, if the remote and your thermostat are both compatible with Apple Siri, Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
Over time, the best smart thermostats will learn your daily routine, habits and preferences and automatically make adjustments to your home’s temperature based on what will save you money on your utility bill. When activated, this feature should lower your costs after about three months, because you’ll be using your air conditioning or heat more efficiently.
Because smart thermostats are designed to make your use of air conditioning or heating more energy efficiently, many utility companies offer a mail-in rebate (typically between $50 and $150) when you purchase and install a new smart thermostat. Google helps you find appropriate rebates when shopping for its Nest smart thermostats, as with this up to $100 mail-in rebate searchable from within Google’s online store.
Before applying for the rebate, however, read the fine print. You may be granting the utility company permission to adjust your thermostat remotely during peak usage times. If you’re comfortable with what the fine print related to the mail-in rebate says, you could wind up receiving the smart thermostat for free, or at least covering the cost of professional installation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Smart Thermostats
If you still have questions about buying a new smart thermostat, check out these answers to some commonly asked questions.
Which Smart Thermostat Is The Best?
When choosing the right smart thermostat for your home, a lot has to do with personal preference and how you think the device will look on your wall. Some key features and functions are worth watching for, since they can make the thermostat easier to use and allow you to save more money over the long-term.
For example, it’s worth paying extra for a smart thermostat that learns your personal preferences, schedule and habits and that can detect when you’re home so it can automatically adjust the temperature accordingly. You’ll also benefit from a smart thermostat that uses remote sensors you can place throughout your home. These sensors allow the device to maintain a comfortable temperature in specific rooms you use most often. Equipment compatibility is also important. If you’re an Apple iPhone and Apple Watch user, look for a smart thermostat compatible with Apple HomeKit and Siri voice commands, for example.
In a nutshell, when shopping for a smart thermostat, focus on features, appearance and price—not necessarily the manufacturer’s brand name. Also check into what mail-in rebates are offered by your utility company for individual brands and thermostat models.
Are Smart Thermostats Really Worth It?
Unequivocally, the answer is yes. Replacing a traditional thermostat in your home with a smart thermostat—and then setting it up and using it correctly—can save you money on your utility bills and lower your energy consumption month after month. This is the the very purpose of smart thermostats, to save money and improve energy efficiency.
Beyond those basics, though, many smart thermostats have other useful features so you can control the temperature in your home from anywhere via your smartphone (or smartwatch), or using voice commands when you’re within earshot of the thermostat or a compatible smart speaker within your home.
Smart thermostats typically use a companion app to guide you through its programmable features as well as its automated learning (if applicable). If you’re using a learning thermostat, expect it to take between two and three months for the device to truly learn your schedule, preferences and adapt to your lifestyle. After that, you should start seeing a lower utility bill on an ongoing basis.
Can I Install A Smart Thermostat Myself?
Again, the simple answer to this question is yes. However, if you’re not comfortable using basic tools (like a screwdriver) and setting up new technology, you’re better off spending money to have a professional and licensed electrician come to your home and handle the installation.
If your home is already equipped with a C-wire to control an existing thermostat, however, you should be able to handle the installation yourself in between 30 and 60 minutes.
For installation help, visit YouTube and within the Search field, enter the make and model of your smart thermostat, followed by the word “installation” to find related instructional videos covering the installation process. For example, if you enter “Nest Learning Thermostat Installation” into YouTube’s Search field, the search results list several dozen useful videos, any one of which provide the information you need.