Since the Nest “smart” thermostat was introduced four years ago, more than one million have been sold despite its relatively high price…and more than a dozen competing smart thermostats have come onto the market. Buyers are intrigued by these high-tech, money-saving devices. But are any of these thermostats right for you?
The attraction: They provide greater convenience, flexibility and safety in heating and cooling your home and can cut your energy costs by 10% or more. All of them include Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to control your thermostat from any computer or smartphone…and advanced software and sensors that allow your thermostat to make decisions for you about when and how much to run your system.
Drawbacks: At a cost of $229 or more, they are much more expensive than standard thermostats. And unless you are handy with low-voltage wiring, you may need an electrician to install the device.
My three favorites…
- Nest Learning Thermostat ($249) has the sleekest, most attractive design and the most advanced “learning” software. Over the course of the first week, the Nest analyzes your living patterns as you program it manually. Then it begins to auto-program itself based on your habits. You can alter the settings if you’re feeling particularly hot or cold on a given day. If the Nest determines that those adjustments are random, it won’t incorporate them into your regular schedule. Best for: People who have predictable schedules.
- Honeywell Lyric Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat ($229) saves you money, but not by trying to learn and interpret your daily habits. Instead, it relies on “geofencing” that tracks your location through the GPS chip in your smartphone. If the Lyric senses that no one is home, it adjusts the temperature to conserve energy. Whenever you are at home or nearby, it kicks on and adjusts the temperature to your preprogrammed specifications. You can link multiple smartphones to the Lyric and set a geofencing range anywhere from 500 feet to seven miles away. Best for: People who have erratic schedules and always carry their smartphones.
- Ecobee3 Wi-Fi Thermostat with Remote Sensor ($249) offers a unique technology to solve a common dilemma: Thermostats often operate your system based on the temperature in the room where they are installed. But what if you’re in a different room that, say, feels overheated in the winter or undercooled in the summer? Ecobee3 comes with battery-operated remote sensors that you install in each room. Each sensor tracks temperature and motion so that the thermostat can adjust for whichever room you’re actually in.