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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

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

The GLAS doesn’t have all of the advanced controls of some of the others on our list, but I sure love the way it looks. Its translucent 5.9-inch OLED touchscreen display lets you see through it when it’s not active. It does have the basic features, allowing you to set temperature from an app on your phone or with voice control. But it doesn’t have an automatic home/away feature, so it won’t adjust its settings based on your location.

Best smart thermostat for baseboard heat

Most smart thermostats aren’t compatible with high-voltage baseboard heat systems, but Mysa’s model gives you similar smart functions and voice control. I found physical installation to be a little tricky, and it did occasionally drop the WiFi connection, but it’s worth the hassle if you want a smart thermostat and have baseboard heat.

Smart thermostat most likely to match your décor

The Kono isn’t the most powerful or feature-rich option on the market. But if you love the idea of matching the color of your thermostat to your home décor, there is really no other choice. For another $7, you can buy a faceplate in blue, red, or white. The Kono performs the basics of running your home’s heating and cooling system just fine, delivering the ability to control it through an app or a voice assistant.

Best smart thermostat for people with window air conditioners

When you use a window air-conditioner unit rather than a central heating and air unit, you may feel as if you’ve been left out of the smart-thermostat world. But with the Sensibo Sky, you can add app control and access to your window AC, as long as the unit has an infrared controller. All you have to do is mount the Sky to your wall (using the included adhesive backing) in a location where it has a line of sight to the AC. That’s it. Your window AC is now smart.

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