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Tired of high heating or cooling bills? Consider a smart thermostat. Most of these gadgets use algorithms to “learn” your family's temperature preferences and daily routines, and adjust the temperature for you.
But not all smart thermostats are created equal. Our tests show that some models offer far better automation than others. Below are seven of the best models from our smart thermostat ratings, listed in alphabetical order. The list has models from Ecobee, Google Nest, Honeywell Home, and Schneider Electric. CR members can click on each model name to see detailed ratings and reviews.
In Consumer Reports’ smart thermostat tests, we evaluate features such as voice control via digital assistants, and how easy they are to connect to WiFi. We also assess how easy it is to control them manually from the thermostat itself.
“We find that the best smart thermostats are the ones that fully exploit the latest technology, like touch screens and sensors and GPS,” says Peter Anzalone, CR’s test engineer for thermostats. “Combining this with a well-designed user interface and the ability to sense and learn by itself is what makes a great smart thermostat.”
ecobee Smart with Voice Control EB-STATe5-01
CR’s take: The Ecobee Smart with Voice Control EB-STATe5-01 blends a simple interface with plenty of bells and whistles for precise programming. The thermostat learns your heating and cooling habits, and adjusts its programming accordingly. It has a single remote sensor to place in a lesser-used part of the house. When the sensor detects activity, the thermostat averages the temperatures at the sensor and the thermostat itself to heat or cool your home to uniform temperature. This marks an improvement, our testers note, over earlier generators of Ecobee thermostats, where sensing behavior was inconsistent.
Nest Learning Thermostat
CR’s take: The Google Nest Learning Thermostat earns one of the top spots in our smart thermostat ratings. It rates Excellent for automating heating and cooling, and offers a wealth of smart features to enhance its functionality, including an occupancy sensor (so it can adjust the temperature based on whether people are present in a room) and geofencing to turn the temperature up or down when you leave and return home. One caveat: Our testers found that the manual controls aren’t the easiest to use.
Nest Thermostat E
CR’s take: For this lower-cost thermostat, Google trades the metal-and-glass body of its pricier model, above, for one made of white and translucent plastic. Like its more expensive sibling, the Google Nest Thermostat E is highly automated; it learns your routine and builds a schedule through its sensors and geofencing. It also receives an Excellent rating for its smart features. The only downside is that the Google Nest E doesn’t support as many HVAC-system wiring configurations as the Google Nest Learning Thermostat. You’ll want to make sure the Nest E works with your HVAC system before you buy it.
Honeywell Home T9 RCHT9510WF
CR’s take: Honeywell, which invented the precursor to the thermostat in 1886, offers multiple smart thermostats. The sleek Honeywell Home T9 RCHT9510WF, which earns an Excellent rating in our test for manual operation, is also easily programmable. It learns your heating and cooling habits and adapts accordingly. The interface defaults to displaying the room temperature, but pressing the screen reveals a well-considered menu of options. Particularly noteworthy is the ability to integrate information from remote sensors, one of which comes with the thermostat.
Honeywell Home Lyric T5 RCHT8610WF
CR’s take: The Honeywell Home T5 is one of the company’s lower-priced models. It’s not as stylish, but the T5 offers plenty of utility, with a touch screen, vacation scheduling, and geofencing. It also has a hold function that lets you override scheduling, a welcome feature for unusual days like holidays when you might break from your typical routine. In our tests, the T5 receives an Excellent rating for manual operation and offers decent automation, but it doesn't have the ability to sense and learn your routine.
Honeywell Home Lyric T5+ RCHT8612WF
CR’s take: The Honeywell Home T5+ is almost identical to the T5 model above in both the features it offers and its performance. The main differences are that the T5+ receives a Very Good rating for automation (better than the T5’s Good rating), it works on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi networks (the T5 works only on 2.4 GHz networks, and 5 GHz networks offer better internet speed), and it comes with a special wiring adapter in the box. This adapter, which can be purchased separately for the T5, allows you to install these thermostats even if you have an older HVAC system that’s missing a C-wire. (Most smart thermostats require this so that they can receive a constant power source.) For more information on C-wires, see our thermostat buying guide.
CR’s take: The Schneider Electric WiserAir 10BLKUS isn’t the most automated smart thermostat, receiving a middling Good rating in that test. But it offers plenty of smart features, such as voice control via digital assistant and an occupancy sensor. Our testers found it can be difficult to connect to WiFi, but its physical controls are very easy to use. The thermostat also has a unique feature: It casts a halo-shaped light onto the wall around the thermostat that changes colors and pulses to indicate when heating or air conditioning is on, or neither.
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