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What I Tell People Who Ask Me Which Smart Thermostat to Buy

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Smart thermostats have been around for a while, but if you’ve waited until now to buy one, that’s good news, because they’ve gotten better and better. The latest models truly live up to their name, using impressive algorithms to understand your household’s heating and cooling needs, automatically adjusting the system’s performance to match. So if you always wake up at 6:30 a.m., your thermostat can recognize that and get the kitchen warm before you come down for a cup of coffee in your pajamas. When everyone heads out for the day, your thermostat recognizes that the house is empty and adjusts the heat or air conditioning in response. They all have apps, as well, so you can control the temperature from your phone, whether you’re coming back after a quarantining with family or just finishing up a run and hoping to sweat a little less when you get back inside.

As a long-time tech writer, I have tested and owned dozens of smart thermostats. The one that’s right for you really does depend on your circumstances and your budget. Here are the best smart thermostats for all sorts of situations. They’re the ones I find myself recommending most to friends and family.

Best smart thermostat

Google Nest Thermostat

When it comes to smart thermostats, Nest is the pioneer. It may have ceded its top spot in the market to Ecobee for the past few years, but it has risen to the top again with the new Google Nest Thermostat. The price is among the lowest in the market, but the stylish look is more like something that costs twice as much. This new Nest makes suggestions on scheduling tweaks to help you save energy, while also tracking and alerting you to odd patterns in your heating and cooling usage. It’s a great choice for anyone in the smart-thermostat market.

Most versatile smart thermostat

Ecobee SmartThermostat

It has a high-resolution screen, attractive design, and dual-band WiFi connectivity, which reduces interference with other devices and improves overall performance. Plus, it comes with a remote sensor that lets you base temperature settings on a room other than the one the thermostat is mounted in. (So if you spend most of your time in a kitchen with high ceilings or drafty windows, the sensor helps you keep that room comfortable.) This option also has the best integration with voice control systems; it may feel silly, but if you’re in the bedroom and your thermostat is downstairs in the living room, it’s convenient to be able to ask Alexa (or other digital home assistants) to turn the temperature up or down for you.

Easiest-to-use smart thermostat

The Nest started the smart-thermostat craze when it was released nearly a decade ago. And though it has since ceded its dominance to Ecobee, Nest, which Google bought six years ago, still makes great products. This third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat has an easy-to-read, well-organized screen with a control system that’s familiar to anyone who has ever used a traditional round thermostat: You just spin the outside ring. Like the Ecobee, the Nest works with single-room sensors. Over time, Nest 3 learns your habits — when you wake up and go to bed, when you’re at work and when you go home — and optimizes your heating and cooling in response. The Nest may not have some features of the newer models, like dual-band Wi-Fi, but it is simple to use and install and it’s beautifully designed.

Most precise smart thermostat

I love this smart thermostat because, like the Ecobee and Nest above, it pairs with Smart Room Sensors ($30 each, or you can save a bit by buying a sensor bundled with the T9 for $169) to measure and adjust the temperature for a particular room. Unlike many other devices, the T9 can automatically determine when someone is nearby, so you aren’t basing your overall heating and cooling settings on empty rooms.

Most stylish smart thermostat