We Tested the 4 Best Smart Thermostats to Control Your Temperature and Electric Bill

Updated: Nov. 03, 2023

Our team tested a gaggle of smart thermostats--and we found our four favorites on the market.

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The Best Smart Thermostats To Control Your Temperature And Electric BillFAMILY HANDYMAN, VIA MERCHANT (8)

The best smart thermostat should be able to do a lot more than kick on the heat or pump up the air conditioning—it can be set on a heating or cooling schedule to help you save money, act as a smart speaker (just like an Amazon Echo) and even monitor your air quality.

A programmable thermostat is one of the best smart home devices for anyone looking for remote and instant access to temperature settings. They can help you remember when to change filters and prevent costly maintenance. Most models are easy to install—in fact, many smart thermostats can replace your existing one with only a few simple steps!

Our editors tested the best smart thermostats in their own homes for over a month to bring you real-life reviews. Now, you can shop smarter when it comes time to replace your old thermostat system.

  • Google Nest Learning Thermostat
    Best Overall Smart Thermostat
    Google Nest Learning Thermostat
    Read More
  • Amazon Smart Thermostat
    Best Budget Smart Thermostat
    Amazon Smart Thermostat
    Read More
  • Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium
    Best Splurge Smart Home Thermostat
    Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium
    Read More
  • Mysa Smart Programmable Wi Fi Thermostat Nathan
    Best Smart Thermostat for AC Units and Electric Heaters
    Mysa Smart Programmable Wi-Fi Thermostat
    Read More
  • Other Smart Thermostats We Considered
    Wyze Programmable Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat
    Read More
  • What to Consider When Buying a Smart Thermostat
    Does the smart thermostat need a C-wire?
    Read More
Google Nest Learning Thermostat Caroline Lubinsky/Family Handyman

Best Overall Smart Thermostat

Google Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest was one of the first smart thermostats to hit the market, and the brand continues to be one of the most reliable Wi-Fi-connected temperature control options. The 3rd Generation Google Nest learns your habits and schedule (like turning the temperature down before you go to bed) and automatically changes its settings to best fit your family’s needs.

Senior Editor Caroline Lubinsky loves her Google Nest and says it saves her noticeable dollars on her electric bill each month.

“I have two Nest Thermostats in my home, and I installed both myself without a hitch,” Lubinsky says. “I love how easy it is to adjust the temperature from my phone via the Nest app.”

“Additionally, I’ve noticed a decrease in my energy bill (yay!) because of the Eco Mode feature,” Lubinsky continues. “The Eco Mode feature keeps your Nest within the range of energy saving temperatures when you’re not in your home (or whenever you decide to toggle it on). It’s a life saver in those especially hot or chilly months where you’d typically pay through the roof for heating and cooling.”

Additionally, you can use either Google Assistant or Alexa for voice control. The Nest also sends an alert if something doesn’t seem right (like a sudden drop in temperature), along with helpful reminders to make maintenance easier.

Pros

  • Learns your schedule and programs itself
  • Compatible with 95% of heating and cooling systems
  • Easy installation
  • Works with Alexa
  • Multiple color options

Cons

  • Small screen might be difficult for some to operate
  • Additional room sensors sold separately

Amazon Smart Thermostat Mary Henn/Family Handyman

Best Budget Smart Thermostat

Amazon Smart Thermostat

The Amazon Smart Thermostat is an affordable, entry-level smart thermostat that’s easy to install (assuming you don’t live in a home with ancient wiring). It’s an attractive, simple device with most features accessible only in the app.

It’s the best smart thermostat for those on a budget (13,000+ five-star reviews on Amazon agree!). And while it may lack some learning capabilities featured in other smart thermostats, it still comes with quick scheduling features that should help reduce energy costs.

With the help of a professional and a C-wire adapter, my partner and I installed this in our home with old and complicated wiring. Before, we were only able to measure the temperature in our house in 10-degree increments. As you can imagine, this wasn’t good for several reasons, as we never knew the exact temperature. For a budget price, we can now control our home’s temperature from the Alexa app, and we’ve noticed a decrease in our monthly electric bill—plus, our cooling system isn’t working overtime trying to catch up with an old thermostat system.

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Energy-star certified
  • DIY install
  • Compatible with Alexa-enabled devices

Cons

  • Must use the app for advanced settings
  • Will likely need to purchase a C-wire adapter for installation

Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium Cher/Family Handyman

Best Splurge Smart Home Thermostat

Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium

The Ecobee Smart Thermostat is the latest model of this popular thermostat brand. It features an upgraded smart sensor that lets you adjust your HVAC system’s output depending on whether a room is vacant or occupied. The Ecobee can also be used with or without a C-wire; however, those without one will need to purchase a separate C-wire adapter to do so.

“My multi-level house was built in 1985, so I wasn’t sure if the original thermostat was doing an adequate job of heating and cooling the entire home,” writes Senior Editor Cher Checchio. “With the Ecobee Smart Thermostat, I can see how effective it is at providing the right temperatures for as high as the upstairs loft to as low as the finished basement.”

She also loves using the included SmartSensor that she places in her daughter’s nursery. “It’s the most important room in the house, so I like that the SmartSensor keeps the nursery comfortable and that I can easily adjust it from my phone with the Amazon Alexa integration.”

Pros

  • Includes smart speaker with voice control
  • Built-in air quality monitor
  • User-friendly screen
  • SmartSensor can be placed anywhere in home

Cons

  • More expensive than other models

Mysa Smart Programmable Wi Fi Thermostat Nathan Nathan Lin/Family Handyman

Best Smart Thermostat for AC Units and Electric Heaters

Mysa Smart Programmable Wi-Fi Thermostat

If you need a smart thermostat that’s compatible with portable and window AC units, electric baseboard heaters, electric fan-forced heaters, and in-ceiling radiant heaters, then the Mysa Smart Thermostat is the one for you. It’s compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit. The compatible Mysa app features energy charting, scheduling, vacation mode, geofencing and geolocation, zone control and more. Installation should take only about 15 minutes, and the Mysa kit comes with easy-to-follow guides.

Senior Manager at Trusted Media Brands Nathan Lin tested this unit and says, “The Mysa Smart Thermostat is a good way to turn a controlled split AC unit into smart system with Wi-Fi.”

“The physical thermometer itself is very well built, lightweight and space saving. However, its one downfall comes from the Mysa app. I had a difficult time connecting my AC unit to the app initially. It took me over 40 minutes to properly set it up,” Lin says. “Fortunately, I only have to set it up once. And I am happy to have the ability to control my AC via my phone now.”

Pros

  • Works with many different types of heating and cooling systems that aren’t whole-home
  • Affordable
  • Integrates with all smart home assistants
  • Sleek, minimalist design

Cons

  • App can be difficult to set up for some users

Other Smart Thermostats We Considered

Curious about the thermostats that didn’t quite make our top four favorites? Check them out below:

Wyze Programmable Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat

Wyze Programmable Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat boasts a seven-day scheduling feature. You can set different temperatures for home, sleep and away each day of the week without having to constantly adjust the thermostat or worry about kids changing the settings.

Control this smart thermostat with the app on your smartphone or tablet or via voice control through Google Assistant or Alexa. This thermostat also helps you save energy by supplying tips based on your usage history, and unlike other models, it includes a C-wire adapter for homes without a C-wire. However, the installation process is very tough, and many users mention that the screen is low quality.

Emerson Sensi Touch

The Emerson Sensi Touch has a large 4.3-inch touchscreen that’s easier on the eyes than most other smart models on the market. Even more helpful: The color of the screen changes—blue for cooling, red for heat—so you can immediately identify your HVAC mode.

The Sensi Touch also features flexible scheduling, which allows you to set your HVAC settings for each day of the week; and geofencing, which adjusts the temperature based on whether you’re home or not. According to Emerson, these features, along with the other smart options built into the Sensi, will save you up to 23% on your energy bill. However, many users report that the temperature sensor is a bit wonky and will turn on A/C or heat when it isn’t needed.

Lux Kono Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat

The Lux Kono Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat is great for oil and electric furnaces, forced air, gas and heat pumps. It’s compatible with Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant, and, like most other smart thermostats, it requires a C-wire for installation. It has an interchangeable black stainless-steel faceplate, and the Lux app allows you to control the device from anywhere.

The Lux Kono thermostat is energy-star certified and features smart scheduling and tips for maximum energy savings. It even has an indoor air quality mode designed to promote air comfort and temperature alerts, which are great when pets or elderly persons are home alone. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi connection is notably spotty, which is why we didn’t include it in our top favorites.

What to Consider When Buying a Smart Thermostat

The most important thing to keep in mind when looking for the best smart thermostat for your needs is compatibility. While it’s not hard to install one of these devices, it’s crucial to make sure it can be used with your HVAC system first. Before you buy, ask yourself the following questions:

Does the smart thermostat need a C-wire?

Whether your thermostat has a C-wire (common wire) determines which devices you can install. If you already have a C-wire, you’re good to go, and can pick from an array of devices. If you don’t have a C-wire, you’ll need to choose a thermostat that runs on rechargeable batteries. Battery-operated thermostats will be easy to set up, but you’ll need to keep track of when the battery is low.

Is the smart thermostat compatible with your HVAC system?

There are multiple kinds of HVAC units, and your thermostat needs to work with the one in your home. You typically need a central HVAC system, Wi-Fi and a smartphone for full control. If your house has more than one temperature zone, you may need to get multiple thermostats.

Does the smart thermostat work with other smart home devices?

There are several smart home ecosystems these days, and they don’t always play well with each other. If you use Google Home, you’ll want a device that works with it. The same goes for Amazon Alexa or Apple HomeKit.

How We Chose the Best Smart Thermostats

In addition to testing the top thermostats on this list for over a month in our own homes to provide you with real-life, honest reviews, we also researched virtually every smart thermostats on the market.

We looked for features like efficiency, simple installation, connectivity and user-friendly displays. Brands like Nest, Amazon, Mysa and Ecobee are among the top contenders. We also included options that fit a wide range of heating and cooling systems, so that you can have smart options no matter what kind of system you’re working with in your home or apartment.

FAQ

What is the difference between a smart and programmable thermostat?

Smart thermostats are just like traditional, programmable thermostats, but they connect to Wi-Fi, can be remotely controlled from your smartphone and adapt and learn for optimal performance.

How do smart thermostats work?

Smart thermostats can be hardwired into your HVAC system, just like a standard thermostat, or run on rechargeable batteries. But it’s their Wi-Fi connectivity that really sets them apart. Once connected, the thermostat will sense your home’s temperature and automatically adjust according to your settings. You can run it manually or set it on a schedule. Some models can even “learn” your habits and set the right temperature when you’re home, away or sleeping.

Do smart thermostats use a lot of electricity?

The greatest benefit to installing a smart thermostat is saving energy and money. Some claim the thermostat will pay for itself in two years, while others tout up to a 23% savings on heating and cooling costs.

Of course, how you use it will ultimately determine how much you save. Additionally, it’s hard to beat the convenience of changing the temperature from your smartphone! With all these things combined, a smart thermostat is a no-brainer choice to upgrade your home to a smart home.