Over the past few centuries, technological advancements have been a significant driver of massive changes around the world. Alongside technology, our lifestyles have changed quite a lot. We are always in a rush, trying to jam as many activities in our day, and because of that, we often sacrifice our sleep. Luckily, scientists have realized how bad sleep deprivation is, and the engineers have developed a series of gadgets to help us sleep better. Smart Home Thermostats are devices that control the temperature in your home, with the idea of making your life more pleasant. These products will increase comfort, and also help you conserve energy, and save some money on electricity bills.
Smart thermostats are handy since you can sync them with your phone and then monitor the device status from your hand. You can track performance and energy savings with an easy-to-use app, which is cool for people who like graphs and analytics.
It is not hard to see how a smart thermostat can help improve your life. Imagine coming home from work during the winter, and instead of walking into a cold apartment, it is already at a pleasant temperature since you’ve set it to warm up just before you arrive. During the night, it can keep the bedroom cooler for better sleep, and then turn the heat up so that you can be comfortable when you wake up.
Smart thermostats cost between $125 and $250, and can drastically improve comfort and cut down on electricity bills, and it is no wonder they are gaining so much popularity. Read on to see all the advantages of smart thermostats, how they can improve your life, and what are the best models on the market.
How Does a Smart Thermostat Work?
These thermostats have several advantages over traditional ones. They use WiFi to connect to the app on your phone or the computer. These apps are very straightforward; you use them to adjust the temperature, receive notifications, energy saving tips, and set a schedule for your device. You can choose your preferred temperature for when you are awake, sleeping, or away from home. Based on that, a smart thermostat will keep your home temperature at your preferred levels to give you as much comfort without having to adjust it all the time manually.
The number one benefit over traditional thermostats is that you can change every setting from your phone without the need to get up and input it manually. That comes in handy as you don’t have to think about it all the time, so after setting the schedule, you can kick back and relax while your device takes care of everything. They are considered ‘smart’ because they can learn your behavior and adapt to ensure the best performance. For instance, they can predict when you will wake up in the morning, and the device will then slowly increase the temperature to ensure that you get up smoothly. Or, if you are coming home around the same time, it will warm up or cool down your home just before you show up. That way, you’ll always feel comfortable without having to think much about the temperature.
Beside regular scheduling, most smart thermostats are equipped with geofencing technology. That means that they can track the location of your phone and decide when is the time to start working, or when to slow down and turn off.
These thermostats also base their functioning on motion sensors. With most models, you will get a few discrete sensors, that you later place in the rooms of your home. When a certain room is unoccupied for a longer period, the heating or cooling can stop to save energy. It turns back on when somebody enters the room, as the movement is detected. By combining all the mentioned technologies, smart thermostats do an excellent job at learning the patterns of people, and they can help you get more comfortable in your home, enjoy better quality sleep, and even save some money in the long run.
How Smart Thermostats Affect Sleep
Your body goes through temperature fluctuations throughout the day. They are controlled by your internal systems, and they play a significant role in regulating a sleep/wake cycle. Beside internal signals, the outside environment affects how well your body functions.
During the evening, your body temperature slowly begins to drop. That is the signal for your brain to start the production of a sleep-regulating hormone called melatonin. It begins secreting in the evening, and then its levels increase throughout the night with the peak just before the dawn. After that, melatonin levels drop, while some other hormones like cortisol begin to take over. The temperature of your body has reached its lowest by then, and that is the signal for the production of cortisol. This stress hormone plays a role in keeping you awake and alert. Its levels jump in the morning when you are supposed to wake up, they are steady through the day, and then they drop again in the evening when you are supposed to prepare for your nightly slumber.
A smart thermostat can help with this natural thermoregulation process by promoting a pleasant sleep environment. You can set the preferred temperatures for when you are awake and asleep so that it can boost your sleep/wake cycle. For instance, set the night temperature somewhere in the mid-60 degrees Fahrenheit, as it seems to be optimal for deep restorative sleep. That will help you get the night full of sound rest, as you will be less likely to toss and turn because you will feel more comfortable and relaxed.
In the morning, your smart device can slowly warm up the room so that you can transition smoothly to your daily routine. With better sleep, you will feel more rested in the morning, focused, and ready to take on the challenges of everyday life.
Features of Smart Thermostats
Besides motion detection, geofencing technology, temperature controls, and sleep optimization, there are several more features that you can enjoy with your smart thermostat.
- Voice commands are available for some models, and you can change the settings, or ask for current readings using your voice.
- Displays vary between the models, and while with some you can expect the traditional thermostat look with buttons, others may have a touchscreen and a futuristic look. Some displays are always on, while others are turned on by movement or touch. They are highly functional, providing information such as the current temperature and the status of your device. They also serve a stylistic purpose, as many models come in different colors and patterns to better fit every environment.
- Humidity sensors are built in some models, and they can alert you when the humidity in your home is off so that you can do something about it.
- Scheduling is available for people who go through the same routine every day. Set your preferred temperatures and you don’t have to worry if you have forgotten to turn the heat off, it will do that automatically. Keep in mind that you can always override this or cancel it with your phone.
- Reports are a crucial part of smart thermostat apps. Everybody likes to keep track of energy usage, and the performance of their device. The app can even alert you when it’s time to change the filters, or it can give you some tips on how to save more money by reducing energy usage. Overall, it is greatly useful to see how well your system is running.
- Connectivity with many home automation systems and smart gadgets is available. And it’s so much easier to control everything by voice commands if you have a device such as Google Home or Alexa.
Does It Really Save Money?
Yes, in the long run, smart thermostats seem like an excellent investment. Keep in mind that heating and cooling accounts for half of your total energy usage, so with the device, you can significantly cut down on your electricity bill. It is estimated that you can save around $180 each year by using a smart thermostat. If you keep in mind that most models cost between $125 and $250, most devices pay for themselves within the year or two.
Is the Installation Process Complicated?
To make them closer to the public, manufacturers have made these thermostats fairly easy to install. They come with a very detailed instruction manual, and the only thing you’ll need is a screwdriver. The setup shouldn’t take more than half an hour.
The only things that can make it a bit trickier are if your home has a newer multi-component HVAC system, or you live in an older house. Not all thermostats support these systems, so you should check that before buying one, and you might want to hire a professional to install the device in this case.
Some older homes don’t have C wires that are required to power smart thermostats. Some brands offer an extender kit so that you don’t have to worry about it, and you can simply set up the C wire in your residence. However, it is better to hire a professional to install it in your home so that you can safely enjoy the benefits of your new smart device.
Our Top 5 Picks
After learning how smart thermostats work, and how they can improve your life, it is time to review some of the popular models on the market. We have selected our favorite ones because of their distinct features and user-friendly apps, so read on to learn more about them.
Honeywell Lyric T5 Thermostat
- Digital Display – Shows the current status of room temperature.
- Dimensions – 4” x 4” x 1”
- Compatibility – Compatible with any device using iOS 8+ system, Android 4+, Amazon Alexa, and other Nest Smart devices.
- Warranty – 1 year
- Variety of Colors – Four available options can perfectly blend into your room without disrupting its style. You can choose between black, white, silver, or copper.
- Geofence System
- Back-up Power Kit
Honeywell Lyric T5 thermostat is one of the top-selling models on the market. It is an excellent option if you are on a tighter budget and are looking for an affordable smart product. You can control it by downloading a Honeywell app on your phone or PC. Through this app, you can adjust room temperature at any given time. It is an excellent tool that can help get your circadian rhythms back in order and enjoy better sleep.
There are two ways in which a Honeywell Lyric T5 operates, and based on your lifestyle and preferences, you can choose between weekly schedule or temperature control based on your location. Scheduling is suitable for people who follow the same routine throughout the week, while the location-based control is better suited for those whose days are a little more unpredictable. It works by tracking the GPS on your phone, and when you get close to home, the device will start working to ensure your preferred room temperature.
Since it is a smart device, it will alert you if there is a change of temperature in a particular location of your home, and it can also give you a warning when it is a time to change the filters.
The Honeywell thermostat offers the features that you will greatly enjoy, and for being one of the most affordable smart thermostats, it is definitely worth considering. This device is also Energy Star Certified, meaning that it is proven to help reduce monthly electricity bills by saving energy.
Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation)
- Touchscreen Display – You can easily tell the current status of the temperature in your room and change it.
- Dimensions – 3.3” x 1.2” x 3.3”
- Compatibility – Great compatibility with any device using iOS 8+ system, Android 4+, Amazon Alexa, and other Nest Smart Devices.
- Warranty – 2 years
- Variety of Styles – If you are worried about the device disrupting the interior of your room, don’t worry as you can pick between black, white, silver, and copper color options.
Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd generation features a digital display that can show you the temperature, status, and even weather forecast. If you are already enjoying other Nest Smart devices, this thermostat can be an excellent addition, since it is compatible with them.
This model uses advanced mechanisms to adjust your home temperature, and sync it with your daily schedule. At first, you manually program the Nest system and put in the temperatures you prefer during the day and night. After this, the device uses feedbacks to learn more about your preferences and, adapt to your individual needs. To control the device, you will need to download the Nest app on your phone, where you can adjust the temperature remotely. You can even give voice commands through one of the home automation systems such as Alexa. Also, this model has a built-in sensor that helps to control the humidity in your home.
Nest Learning Thermostat also features a motion sensor, which detects the movement in a particular area of your home. If the room is occupied, the device is working to ensure the most pleasant temperature, but if there are no people in some part of your home, it will turn off to save energy.
The Nest Learning Thermostat is the first to earn the Energy Star Certification. People have reported saving as much as 15% on their electricity bill when using this device. That sounds like a potentially good investment, as you are saving money and enjoying more comfort at the same time.
Kono KN-S-AMZ-004 Smart Thermostat
- Dimensions – 6.5” x 2.8” x 6”
- Geofencing technology
- Beautiful design with many color options to choose from
- Compatibility – Great compatibility with iOS, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Android
- Warranty – 3 years
This smart thermostat by Lux offers excellent functionality, paired with a beautiful design. After downloading the Kono app, you can put in your temperature preferences and your schedule, and this thermostat will work based on that. You can also enable smart functioning, where the device uses motion sensors and geofencing technology to locate you and adjust the temperature based on where you are. That is great for when you are coming home from work, as you won’t need to spend some time in a cold apartment, waiting for it to warm up.
One of the most noticeable features of Kono KN-S-AMZ-004 Smart Thermostat is its beautiful design. The modern minimalistic exterior, with a visual display, comes in a variety of colors so that everybody can choose the one that fits their room interior. You can even buy a paintable cover to match the exact color scheme of your home. The dimensions of this device are a little bit larger than the other thermostats, so keep in mind that it will be more noticeable in the room.
This device works well with the Alexa and some other smart home automation systems. The Kono app gives you reports about the air quality in your home, as well as some tips on how to save energy with your device.
Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat with Built-In Alexa
- Sleek design with a touchscreen display
- Dimensions – 4” x 1” x 4”
- Compatibility – Compatibility with Alexa, Apple Home Kit, Samsung SmartThings, Vera, Control 4, and Wink.
- Warranty – 3 Years
- Built-in Alexa system – You can use voice commands to change the settings, but also to play music, set alarms, ask questions, and more.
- Discreet white motion sensors
The Ecobee4 smart thermostat has the most straightforward installation process, and a back-up power kit in case there is no available C-wire in your home. The manual is very user-friendly, and the manufacturer states that you only need about 20 minutes to set it up. On top of this, the beautiful modern design, and discreet motion sensors make this model suitable for every home.
The most noticeable feature about Ecobee4 is that it comes with built-in Amazon’s Alexa. It means that you can use voice commands to change your thermostat settings, but you can also use it as your personal Alexa device. You can play music, make schedules, set timers, ask questions about anything, and enjoy all of the features of Alexa. That explains the higher price tag, as you are essentially getting two devices in one.
When you consider all the features, modern design, high-functionality, and that you are getting a home automation system, the price seems reasonably fair. The manufacturer also states that using Ecobee4 will help you cut down your annual heating and cooling costs by up to 23%.
Emerson Sensi Smart Thermostat
- Digital display
- Dimensions – 5.88” x 0.94” x 3.75”
- Works well with Android, iOS, Alexa, and Google Home
- Geofencing System
- Warranty – 5 years
Emerson Sensi smart thermostat doesn’t have a touchscreen or a modern design but comes with a traditional look and buttons instead. Don’t let this turn you away from it, as it has one of the best apps we’ve tested. You can control it either from your phone or the computer.
It has standard weekly scheduling where you input the desired temperatures, and the device follows that pattern. However, the Emerson Sensi thermostat also has the option to use geofencing technology, and adjust the temperature and other parameters based on your phone’s location.
The app’s interface is user-friendly, and it shows you the color-coded temperature readings to let you know when the device is cooling, heating, or on standby. There are also usage reports and fan monitoring so that you can track your device’s performance.
The installation process is easy and shouldn’t take more than 25 minutes. The Emerson Sensi can be used with Alexa and other home automation systems, including Google Home, which is somewhat rare for these devices.
It comes with a 5-year warranty, which is a lot longer than what other manufacturers provide. This model is also Energy Star Certified and comes at a budget price, so you’ll be saving money in no time.