Since their debut in the 1980s, digital thermostats have made it easier for homeowners to make their houses more comfortable by controlling indoor temperatures. The ability to program a heating and cooling schedule, still a relatively recent feature in the net timeline of home thermostat technology, is nevertheless a substantial breakthrough in the industry. Users can improve the efficiency of their homes significantly and reap the rewards of reduced energy consumption by setting their HVAC systems to turn on and off with respect to when the household will be occupied. Programming the heating and cooling systems to run at comfortable temperatures while the home is empty and switch to a livable climate just before occupants arrive is considerably more efficient than the alternatives.
This feature alone makes a programmable thermostat a worthy investment, but consumer technology has advanced considerably since the ’80s and programmable thermostats are now capable of doing so much more. Using your home’s high speed internet connection, today’s high-performance “Smart” thermostats are also capable of analyzing outdoor humidity, tracking indoor energy and other features designed to simplify your life. Whether your goal is to make your heating and cooling bills a little cheaper or you’re interested in one of the many cool perks the latest generation of programmable thermostats has to offer, the following options are likely to meet your needs and more.
1. Nest Learning Thermostat: Third Generation
When it comes to looking for a thermostat to auto-adjust temperatures based on a weekly schedule or the location of family members in the home, consumers have trusted the Nest brand since 2011, when the company launched the first iteration of its smart thermostat. The third version has seen cosmetic and functionality updates galore, and any consumer interested in upgrading their thermostat should at least take a look at what the latest Nest technology can do. Thanks to an intuitive Wi-Fi app, the Nest Learning Thermostat is more accessible than ever before.
“The new Nest is one of the smartest thermostats on the market.”
On the design side of the coin, the new Nest boasts a larger screen and more streamlined contours. Visually, the device’s far-field sensor, which makes it easier for users to view time and temperature from a distance, is one of the third-generation Nest’s most impressive features. In terms of functionality, the newest Nest features include the ability to interact with users from longer distances, a feature that supplements the more visible screen. The Nest also monitors furnace activity for signs of overheating and is capable of forwarding performance problems to homeowners via text or email. These features make the Nest one of the smartest thermostats on the market.
2. Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat
Competing directly with the Nest in terms of design and name recognition is no small order, but Honeywell has responded admirably with the latest version of its smart thermostat, focusing on users who appreciate hard data and utility over comfortable aesthetics. Honeywell’s visuals are hardly barebones – the metallic finish, sharp edges and bright screen recall the bridge of a glamorous sci-fi starship. On the other hand, the installation instructions perform considerably less hand-holding than those that come with the Nest and make Honeywell’s device more suited for an experienced DIYer.
Beyond these design differences, functionality between the two devices is more or less identical. Both are capable of managing indoor temperatures based on a daily heating or cooling cycle, feature an intuitive touch screen, deliver options and controls on-the-go via mobile app and continue to work as traditional thermostats when an Internet connection is unavailable. The decision between these two products comes down largely to your experiencing with basic electrical wiring and your personal preference in terms of stylish home electronics.
3. Ecobee3 Thermostat: Apple HomeKit Enabled
Not a fan of Nest or Honeywell’s offerings? The latest version of the Ecobee3 Thermostat offers a choice alternative for homeowners who aren’t attracted to the flashy and futuristic vibes projected by the two popular smart thermostats. The Ecobee3 takes a minimalist approach in terms of design and layout without coming up short in terms of performance and features. In addition, the Ecobee3 comes packed with a remote wireless sensor that measures the temperature in another room in the house. This feature allows you to correct the climate in any room of your home without having to make constant adjustments to your thermostat.
The Ecobee3 also shines in its seamless connectivity with commonly used smart home systems like SmartThings, Control4 and Vera. In addition to widespread compatibility, it’s a breeze to network the Ecobee3 as part of a “If This, Then That” sequence and integrate the device with the rest of the Internet of Things appliances scattered throughout your home. This smart thermostat is also one of the first brands to feature Apple HomeKit integration, allowing to make adjustments to their temperature via their iPhone and Siri voice control. Akin to the Honeywell device, installing the Ecobee3 can be a bit complicated. Regardless, this fault alone is no reason to discount the Ecobee3 from consideration.
Ultimately, the decision in which home thermostat to purchase comes down to preferences as a consumer and as a homeowner. All three of these devices sell for a similar price, retailing for just over $240. You’ll likely be able to find some online deals on these popular items with the holiday season fast approaching, and selecting your smart thermostat based on price alone won’t put you at much of a disadvantage considering all three feature such similar functionality. Otherwise, it just comes down to how well each device meshes with your current home decor.