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Deciding which smart thermostat will work best for you

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Q: I’m thinking about buying a smart thermostat. Which one should I get?

Programmable thermostats have been around for a long time and, provided you take the time to actually program them, they can save you money.

Smart thermostats take energy saving to another level because they don’t solely rely on your initial programming.

The main ways that they can save you money is by detecting when no one is home and automatically adjusting the temperature to your lower energy away setting and by allowing you to remotely control them.

Heating or cooling your home when no one is home will add up over time, which is why a lot of these smart devices can pay for themselves.


Nest was the first real advance in smart thermostats because of its sleek design, simple interface and its unique approach to the programming portion of the setup.

Instead of sitting down to guess what temperature to set for each day and day-part, the Nest system simply has you adjust the temperature the way you would an old-school thermostat and automatically builds a schedule for you.

Nest also has a built-in motion sensor that helps it determine when no one is home, so it can automatically change the thermostat to a pre-designated away temperature.

This is a huge benefit to anyone that has an irregular schedule but it also helps Nest learn your patterns for better scheduling.

Nest was acquired by Google a couple of years ago and has become their platform for the smart home.

If you have or want to include other Nest products — security cameras, smoke/CO detectors, smart lights and doorbells — you can control everything with voice commands via the Google Home smart speaker.


EcoBee thermostats don’t have the learning ability of the Nest, but they do have the same motion-sensing capabilities.

For those that have larger homes, having a single motion sensor, such as what Nest offers, may not be the best way to monitor movement.

EcoBee offers various models that include remote sensors that can be placed in the rooms that you use the most. This is helpful for those that might work for long periods of time in a home office, for example.

The recently launched EcoBee4 system also has a built-in microphone and native support for Amazon’s voice-technology, so it extends your Alexa voice command range in the house.


Honeywell has a long track record in the thermostat business, but they lack some of the smart sophistication of the other two.

If you’re looking for lower cost options with remote controls and programmability, there are many options to choose from.

Installation and compatibility

Installation can range from simple to a complete nightmare depending upon the age of your HVAC system and your technical skills, so proceed accordingly.

If you plan on expanding your smart home to other devices, make sure you review the compatibility of the thermostat with the smart platforms you are interest in using.

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