When Apple alumni Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers unveiled their first-gen Nest Learning Thermostat in 2011, they ignited interest in a previously overlooked part of the home. All of a sudden, folks were paying attention to more than thermostat functionality -- they were looking at design and the possibility of integrating their heating and cooling systems into their app-centric connected worlds.
But, Nest (now Google's Nest) did more than just showcase smart design and offer an outlet for tech savvy consumers early on; it also inspired other companies to create their own versions of the DIY smart thermostat.
The innovative heat and AC incubators that have emerged are all slight variations on the same energy-efficient, customization-focused theme. Still, each one did something a bit different in terms of features and final execution. Take a look at the five smart thermostats we've reviewed so far to see if you might be ready for an upgrade.
Ecobee's Ecobee3 Smart Thermostat
The $249 Ecobee3 (£155/AU$285) is a Wi-Fi-and-app-enabled thermostat that relies on sensors to detect whether you're home or away. Yes, you can still schedule it the old-fashioned way, but this thermostat's adaptive sensors know that your routine can be unpredictable. So, it will automatically cancel Away mode if the motion and proximity sensors sense that you've come back home unexpectedly -- all so that you can be as comfortable as possible. Isn't that nice?
Google's Nest Learning Thermostat
The $249 Nest Learning Thermostat wasn't the first smart or app-enabled model to hit retail, but its unique design definitely changed the game. Its radial dial takes cues from retro thermostats, but some clever tweaks gave it modern appeal. And, its learning algorithm adapts to your comings and goings so you don't have to worry about setting fixed Home and Away schedules. Your Nest will also send you energy reports based on your usage patterns to gently guide you toward a more efficient, economical heating and cooling routine.
Honeywell's Lyric Thermostat
The $279 Lyric thermostat was designed to compete directly with the Nest. But, instead of a Nest-style learning algorithm or Ecobee3-esque adaptive sensors, the Lyric relies heavily on geofencing. You can set either a 500-foot or 7-mile range and when it senses that you're out of range, it will auto-set to Away mode. When it detects that you're back within range, it will kick Home mode back on so it's nice and cozy by the time you reach your front door.
Honeywell's Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat
The $249 Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat take more of a traditional approach to smart heating and cooling. It has a rectangular design that mimics a lot of the programmable thermostats on the market today. But, it also manages to offer a similar Nest learning algorithm style of functionality. If you like the traditional thermostat look but want something smart and adaptable, Honeywell's Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat is a solid bet.
Honeywell's Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control
The $349 Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control is nearly identical to the brand's standard Wi-Fi Smart version, but it has a black finish and voice command capabilities. That means that you can ask it to make temperature adjustments totally hands-free. The list of questions and commands is ever-expanding and has already grown significantly since I reviewed it last December. So, if you'd rather not leave the comfort of your couch and don't want to mess with an app all the time, Honeywell's Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control might make a lot of sense.