10 Smart Thermostats to Keep You Warm and Save You Money This Winter Season

Winter is fast approaching and there’s no better time to invest in a smart thermostat to keep the comfort high and the expenses low this season.

Smart thermostats have been one of the most popular smart home devices to be accepted into the home but still face a slow adoption rate relative to more mainstream technologies like smartphones. According to the industry research firm Parks Associates, while 40% of US broadband users are familiar with smart thermostats, only 11% have them in their homes.

Things may be changing as there are more options to choose from and there is an increased abundance of incentives such as rebates offered by utility companies (read more below). According to the estimates below, 33 million North American households will own a smart thermostat in a few years time.

Depending on compatibility with the heating and cooling systems in your residence, smart thermostats can help lower your bills by continuously adjusting energy consumption according to your needs. Many of them can sense whether you’re at home or away by using presence sensors, learning algorithms, or in some cases geofencing which use the location of your smartphone. If you’re home, they’ll ensure the heat is on and set to a comfortable temperature, and once you leave the house they’ll reduce the heating to conserve energy.

Replacing your current thermostat will also provide you with a neat and updated design as those devices usually include a touchscreen or other modern digital interface. Not to mention the benefit of added remote control capabilities through a smartphone app and the possibility of integration with the rest of your smart home setup should you have one.

Smart Thermostat Offers and Rebate Programs

One thing we recommend that you check is whether your local utility currently offers incentives or rebates for the purchase of smart thermostats, and make sure that the model you set your eyes on qualifies. Here are a few we were able to track down for you (true for October 2017):

(Please contact us if there are any programs we may have missed — we’ll be happy to update this story).

United States

  • AEP Ohio offers $75 or $100 rebates on select smart thermostats including some from ecobee, Emerson, Honeywell, Nest and Radio Thermostat.
  • Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) offers rebates on select smart thermostats including ecobee, Nest and Lux/Geo through their ComEd marketplace.
  • Consumers Energy offers a flat $50 cash rebate on a wide variety of qualifying smart thermostats including those from ecobee, Honeywell, Lux/Geo, Nest and Sensi.
  • Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) offers a $75 rebate on wide selection of qualifying smart thermostats as well as supports instant rebates in partnership with some manufacturers.
  • Efficiency Vermont offers up to $150 in cashback on qualifying smart thermostats if purchase is done by Dec 31st, 2017. You can be out of pocket by as little as $50 with this great program.
  • SMUD in Sacramento, CA offers $75 rebates on a nice selection of Energy Star rated smart thermostats including those from ecobee, Nest and a few other vendors.
  • SoCalGas offers a $50 rebate on smart thermostats from ecobee, Honeywell and Nest.

Canada

  • Enbridge offers a $100 incentive in form of a bill credit when Enbridge gas customers purchase a qualifying smart thermostat before December 31, 2017. The incentive is also offered to non-customers as long as they reside within the Enbridge Gas Program Delivery area.
  • Quebec’s Gaz Metro offers up to a $100 incentive for installing a smart thermostat.
  • The GreenON Installations Program provides installations of smart thermostats for qualifying homeowners living in Ontario.
  • Rebates and Incentives of Ontario is offering a free Nest Learning Thermostat with all audit and system updates.

10 Popular Smart Thermostats

Below are some of the most popular smart thermostats in the market. Check out the summary table at the bottom of the page for information about compatibility with heating systems and smart home platforms — an important consideration to protect your investment.


Ecobee3 Lite

The Ecobee3 Lite is a light version of the full priced Ecobee3, but is still able to adapt and learn your usage patterns. Like its more expensive counterpart, it has a great range of compatibility to be involved in more customized schedules.

Specs:

  • Touchscreen
  • Auto-scheduling
  • Geofencing

Ecobee4

This thermostat automatically learns your usage patterns to adjust settings to your needs and uses proximity sensors to detect whether people are home or not, and find hot or cold spots in the home. The one major thing that sets the Ecobee4 apart from other smart thermostats is its built-in Alexa capability. Aside from voice calling, the Ecobee4 can do everything Alexa can do, meaning you could shop straight from your thermostat.

Many online reviewers put the Ecobee4 and Nest Learning thermostat (below) head to head when it comes to identifying the best smart home thermostat, but it really comes down to personal preference in user interface, design, and how you feel about a built-in Alexa, as their functions (aside from integration with other Nest products) are very similar.

Specs:

  • Touchscreen
  • Auto-scheduling
  • Geofencing
  • Built-in Alexa voice assistance

Honeywell offers several models, including some that are only available through professional installers.

Honeywell Lyric T5

The Honeywell Lyric T5 is the most affordable of the bunch and offers all the functions to reap the money-saving benefits of smart thermostat. Most importantly, it has reliable geofencing alongside its scheduling function. Reviewers note that at about $100 cheaper than the popular Nest and Ecobee4, the Lyric T5 is a great alternative.

Specs:

  • Touchscreen
  • Auto-scheduling
  • Geofencing

Honeywell Lyric Round

The Honeywell Lyric Round has a touch screen glass face that’s motion activated and can help you save money on your energy bill by adapting to your usage schedule. It knows when you leave the home, and will turn on the heat when you approach the home using its geofencing feature. It’s a part of the Honeywell Lyric family, which also works with the Lyric Freeze and Leak Detector.

Specs:

  • Touchscreen
  • Auto-scheduling
  • Geofencing

Lux/Geo

The Lux/Geo Thermostat can be mounted horizontally or vertically and keeps your home feeling comfortable with its Home and Away Aware geofencing feature. It doesn’t have a touch screen but instead uses a dial that users can slide to adjust their temperature preferences. It also has a Clean Cycle fan circulation function that helps keep your home fresh.

Specs:

  • Auto-scheduling
  • Geofencing

Mysa

The Mysa smart thermostat specializes in high-voltage heating systems like electric baseboard heaters. This is a new and promising product for those who need a solution for their high voltage heating.

It has all the good stuff like geofencing and scheduling while also providing reports on your energy usage so that you can learn where you can save more. Its machine learning also enables it to decipher usage patterns.

Specs:

  • Auto-Schedule
  • Geofencing
  • Usage Reports
  • Unique: compatibility with high-voltage heating systems

Nest Learning Thermostat

The Nest Learning Thermostat is one of the most popular and widely adopted smart home devices out there. It has a similar learning ability to the Ecobee line of thermostats, except instead of learning with sensors it develops an algorithm based on your usage patterns to adjust settings to your needs. It also has ten temperature sensors, and supports three-stage heating, two-stage cooling, three-speed fans, and humidity add-ons. It is compatible with a wide range of smart home platforms so you won’t need to worry about this device integrating with your smart home setup.

Specs:

  • Touchscreen
  • Auto-Scheduling
  • Geofencing
  • Learning capability

Nest Thermostat E

A lighter version of the Nest Learning Thermostat, the Nest Thermostat E packs all the goodness of the original Nest at $80 less. The main difference is that the screen has a frosted display rather than a touch screen, but it’s a great choice for the basics and still has features like geofencing and scheduling. Like the original Nest, it offers a wide range of compatibility to fit with the rest of your smart home devices.

Specs:

  • Frosted Screen (non-touch)
  • Auto-scheduling
  • Geofencing

Radio Thermostat CT-80

The Radio Thermostat CT-80 helps you save money through knowing when you’ve left your home by using your smartphone’s geolocation. It also has pre-built energy saving schedules to keep the task of saving money easy. Runtime Reports are provided in its app which allow the user to see minute-by-minute data on their usage. A list of applicable rebates for this thermostat is provided on its home page.

Specs:

  • Touchscreen
  • Auto-Scheduling
  • Geofencing

Venstar ColorTouch T7800

Those who like to customize their tech will appreciate the various wallpapers and faceplates available for the Venstar ColorTouch T7800. You can also upload your own slideshow to display on the front, or opt for a plain black screen if the thermostat is in a dark room. Aside from the fundamental weekly scheduling ability the Venstar also has outside weather sensors to tell you the outside temperature, and another interesting perk it has is that you can send text messages to appear on its display for everyone in the home to see.

Specs:

  • Touchscreen
  • Auto-scheduling
  • Text message display
  • Photo Album display
  • Outside Weather Sensing


So which is the best thermostat for your home?

Most of these thermostats have the ability to schedule heating and cooling cycles according to your needs with energy conservation in mind. Choosing a smart thermostat really depends on your budget and what sort of interface you’re looking for. Either way, a smart thermostat is an investment for a more efficient future, and is one of the first steps in the journey towards a smarter home.

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