From the Cheapskate: Until you've experienced the joy that is an app-controlled thermostat, you haven't lived.
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
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On to business. When the Nest thermostat burst onto the scene a few years ago, I was intrigued -- but unwilling to spend $250. It seemed like overkill for my smallish abode, and certainly overpriced. (To this day it still costs $250. What's that about, Google?)
But that didn't stop me from installing a simpler, more affordable, smart thermostat -- and it's the greatest thing ever. Whether you're lying in bed or heading home from the airport, nothing beats adjusting the temperature with a few taps of your phone.
Update:Ugh. The coupon (which I tested!) is now showing as expired. I'm going to reach out to the company and see if they'll extend it. Sorry this was such a short-lived deal! As always, I have no way of knowing when a coupon is going to expire or stock is going to run out. Frustrating all around.
Update No. 2: Okay, I spoke with an Emerson rep, and here's the situation. That discount code was never meant to be made public, but rather "was intended for one-time use by a limited number of HVAC contractors to experience how easy it is to install and use Sensi thermostat for themselves." I have absolutely no doubt this is the truth (sorry, bait-and-switch accusers), and although the company isn't obligated to do so, Emerson is still offering a discount (of 20 percent) to Cheapskate readers. The code (see above) expires at midnight.
To look at the Sensi is to see a fairly traditional digital thermostat, but because it can connect to your home network, it not only pulls down local weather data, but also pairs with your smartphone or tablet (Android or iOS) for easy remote operation.
It also features an indoor humidity sensor, seven-day programming schedules and auto-switching from heating to cooling. Emerson backs the Sensi with a three-year warranty.
Installation is DIY and quite easy, at least based on my experience installing a slightly more advanced thermostat. The unit promises "universal" HVAC compatibility (read: should work in most US homes) and doesn't require the C-wire that some controllers do (and that's not present in many existing thermostat installations).
CNET hasn't reviewed the Sensi, but over at Amazon, nearly 500 buyers collectively rated it 4.5 stars. I think that says it all. Your thoughts?
Bonus deal: Sure, you already have a Bluetooth speaker for the living room, kitchen and maybe the bedroom, but what about the bathroom? Garage? Linen closet? When they're this cheap, you can afford to go nuts: Tanga has the Urge Basics Soundbrick portable Bluetooth speaker for $14.99, plus $2.98 for shipping. The first time I shared a deal on this model, which proved extremely popular with readers, it was twice the price. Just take note that the video on the product page shows a slightly different design than what you're actually getting. (The photos are accurate.)
Your turn: One of the most popular deals I've shared this year was the Nexus 5 smartphone and one year of service for $199.99 (long since expired, alas). If you took advantage of that, or a subsequent, similar one featuring the iPhone 5, how's it working out? I ask because FreedomPop was the service provider, and few companies are as divisive among readers. I've had a free-data-every-month FreedomPop MiFi for quite some time, and it's been great. But I'm curious to know about their phone service. Good? Bad? Other?