Which Smart Thermostat Is Right for Me?

Written by President Tom Howard of Lee's Air Conditioning, Heating, and Building Performance
Updated May 31, 2016
nest thermostat
Nest is known for intuitively learning your preferences and adjusting your thermostat accordingly. (Photo courtesy of Nest)

Not only are smart thermostats energy efficient, they're incredibly convenient.

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Bumping up the A/C while you’re trying to sleep and turning it down while you’re away from home are just a couple of things a programmable thermostat can take care of so you can focus on your busy life.

Benefits of a smart thermostat

One of the hallmarks of a smart thermostat is that you can tell the device how to maintain optimum temperature in the home depending on your lifestyle. This is great for energy savings, because you aren’t cranking up the air conditioner when you get home on a record hot day or constantly adjusting your A/C unit because you can’t get the temperature just right.

Smart thermostats come with mobile apps and desktop functionality to make programming your thermostat as easy as possible. You can select days of the week and times throughout the day when you know the home will be empty, and your A/C can take a break. The bells and whistles of smart thermostats vary from there. Here is a breakdown of three of the most talked about programmable thermostats.

Nest smart thermostat with built-in Wi-Fi

Nest is known for intuitively learning your preferences and automatically adjusting your thermostat accordingly. In addition, its auto-schedule feature takes the brainwork out of having to set up a schedule for your thermostat. This comes in handy when nobody’s home and Nest knows to shut off the air even though you didn’t tell it to.

This smart thermostat also updates its software automatically, saving you the worry of having to stay on top of system upgrades that, when not implemented, can compromise the quality of your device. Have security concerns because Nest is Wi-Fi based? The device also uses advanced encryption to prevent security breaches.

Ecobee3 Wi-Fi thermostat with remote sensor

Good for both home and business, ecobee takes into account your home’s “energy profile,” which consists of your local climate and home’s specific characteristics. While the device isn’t known for being as intuitive as Nest, ecobee has sensors you can place throughout the home to get coverage on a room-to-room basis.

Have a cold living room and hot master bedroom? Ecobee’s sensors can help ensure you’re getting the cold air where you need it instead of sending it all throughout the home.

The device is open to developers to create ecobee-integrated apps, paving the way for creative possibilities. Ecobee is advertised as being easy to install, setting up automatically and offering a user-friendly experience.

Honeywell Lyric thermostat

As a well-known brand, Honeywell has legacy on its side. Using a feature called geofencing, the thermostat knows when you’re on the way home so the temperature can be adjusted before you get there. This is great if you want to come home to a cooled house even if you don't know your schedule ahead of time.

With a customizable touch screen, Honeywell’s Lyric can change colors to match your home, and alerts ensure that you always remember to change your filter. The Lyric also has programmable shortcuts so with a touch of a button you can achieve a task on your device quickly and easily. 

About this Experts Contributor: Tom Howard is the president of Lee's Air Conditioning, Heating, and Building Performance located in Fresno, California. Founded in 1981, Lee's mission is to deliver the highest standard of HVAC service in the central valley. Howard is a contributor to the Experts Contributor Program. Find Lee's Air on Google+ and Twitter.

As of May 31, 2016, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List. 

Editor's note: This is an updated version of a story published on April 23, 2015.

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