Watch CBS News

Essentials Shopping

The best smart thermostats for keeping summer electric bills in check

Woman adjusting thermostat
Getty Images

As summer heats up, a smart thermostat is a great way to save money on bills and keep your home comfortable. Many of the best smart thermostats of 2024 let you set and adjust the temperature remotely via an app. But they go beyond basic home climate control. As a crucial part of your smart home setup, they can also learn your schedule and adjust automatically when you're out and about. That can lead to lower utility bills without forcing you to sacrifice the most important thing of all: your comfort. 

The best part is that some utility companies will give you monthly rebates for installing a smart thermostat. Companies know that these devices help consumers save energy, so they don't mind giving incentives so more folks will sign up. Before summer officially hits, be sure to check with your utility company to see if you qualify for a rebate by replacing your old thermostat with a smart model. These summer savings opportunities will keep you cool while also lowering those pesky bills. Everyone can get on board with that. 

Below, find our picks for some of the best smart thermostats of 2024. 

Best smart thermostats for 2024

Best smart thermostat overall: Google Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd gen)

Google Nest Learning Thermostat

C-Wire Required: Yes | Self-Installable: Yes | Multi-Zone Support: Yes | Smart Home Integrations: iOS, Android, Google Assistant, Nest | Mobile App: Nest app | Optional Accessories: Wall Plate Cover, Temperature Sensor | Size: Circular, 3.3 x 3.3 x 1.1 inches | Color/Finish Options: Stainless Steel, Brass, Copper, Mirror Black, Polished Steel, White, Black | Display: 2.08-inch diameter color display

The modern and minimalist Google Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd generation) is one of the most feature-packed smart thermostats you can get. It comes with everything you need to install it yourself, though again, we recommend professional installation. Just like installing a smart lock, this is the type of product you want added to your home correctly. 

As its name suggests, this smart thermostat learns your schedule and preferences, so there's no need to manually program it. It allows you to adjust your home's temperature by voice (when connected to a smart home hub) or via the Nest mobile app. Control it remotely, or by using the touch-sensitive controls on the thermostat itself.

One of the Nest's "smart" features is that it monitors the local weather and adjusts the temperature according, based on your personal preferences. It will also help to make your energy use more efficient. After it learns your schedule, Nest will automatically adjust the temperature when you're at home, when you're away for the day and at night, all to keep you comfortable.

Why we chose it: Once installed and set up, the Google Nest Learning Thermostat is easy to use and its display is easy to read and understand, even from across the room. We also like that Nest offers tips on lowering energy usage.

Best budget smart thermostat: Amazon Smart Thermostat

Amazon Smart Thermostat

C-Wire Required: Yes | Self-Installable: Yes | Multi-Zone Support: No | Smart Home Integrations: Amazon Alexa, Ring, iOS, Android | Mobile App: Alexa app | Optional Accessories: None | Size: Square, 3.56 x 3.56 x 0.84 inches | Color/Finish Options: White | Display: LED shows temperature

If you're worried that adding a smart thermostat to your home is too expensive, consider this: You can get the 4.2-star-rated Amazon Smart Thermostat for under $100, and then advantage of rebates from your utility company (where available) to drop the cost down further. Then, you'll start saving, on average, $50 on your yearly energy bill. 

Once installed, the Amazon Smart Thermostat makes it easy to adjust the temperature in your home remotely using a mobile app and Alexa voice commands via any Alexa-compatible smart speaker or home hub.

If you have a Ring video doorbell or other Ring smart home devices, this smart thermostat from Amazon will work in conjunction with that equipment via the Ring app to learn when you're away from home. Once the thermostat learns your personal temperature preferences, it will automatically make adjustments when you're at home and away.

Note that this thermostat does not support 5GHz wireless networks.

Why we chose it: While not as advanced as other smart thermostats, this one from Amazon is affordable and easy to operate once installed. Its emphasis is on controlling it using Alexa voice commands. We also like that it uses Honeywell home thermostat technology.

Best smart thermostat for larger homes: Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium with Smart Sensor

Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium

C-Wire Required: Yes | Self-Installable: Yes | Multi-Zone Support: Yes | Smart Home Integrations: Apple HomeKit, SmartThings, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTT, Android | Mobile App: Ecobee app | Optional Accessories: Additional temperature sensors | Size: 4.09 x 9.09 x 1.02 inches | Color/Finish Options: Black | Display: 540 x 540 pixel color touchscreen

The Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium offers an extra temperature sensor (and the ability to add more) to place in the most frequently used room in your home, such as your bedroom or living room. That way, the thermostat can maintain a comfortable temperature for you even if some rooms in your home tend to run hotter than others.

When you purchase the Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium, you can select a bundle that includes one or two separate room temperature sensors. You can also bundle this thermostat with an Ecobee video doorbell and/or indoor Wi-Fi security camera, and then control all of these devices from a single app. Using the thermostat with its temperature sensors, Ecobee promotes users can save up to 26% per year on their heating and cooling costs.

 The thermostat will also monitor the air quality in your home and will remind you to change the air filter in your furnace when it's needed. It can also adjust the temperature based on humidity. With an optional paid subscription, this thermostat can be programmed to automatically shut off anytime a window or door is left open (with the use of add-on sensors).

Why we chose it: The thermostat is designed to integrate with other Ecobee smart home products, including a video doorbell, indoor cameras, smart smoke detectors and complete Ecobee smart home security systems. This thermostat is ideal for larger homes because it will work with multiple room temperature sensors.

Best 7-day programmable smart thermostat: Honeywell Home T9

Honeywell Home T9

C-Wire Required: Yes | Self-Installable: Yes | Multi-Zone Support: Yes | Smart Home Integrations: Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant | Mobile App: Resideo app | Optional Accessories: Additional room temp. sensors, cover plate | Size: 3.7 x 4.9 x 0.9 inches | Color/Finish Options: White | Display: Graphical color touchscreen

The Honeywell Home T9 makes it easy to efficiently manage the temperature in your home. The thermostat incorporates a graphical touchscreen display with a built-in backlight. It also comes with one smart room sensor, but more can be purchased separately.

While you can manually create a seven-day program, you can just as easily allow the thermostat and in-room sensor(s) to automatically manage your home's temperature based on your lifestyle, schedule and preferences. Going with this option allows the thermostat to make decisions that will keep you comfortable and help you save money on your utility bill.

Each room temperature sensor has a 200-foot reach and is designed to continuously send temperature data to the thermostat so it can keep the rooms you frequently occupy at the ideal temperature. It's also able to adjust temperature based on humidity levels.

Instead of being hardwired to your home's electricity, this thermostat uses two "AAA" batteries. The thermostat supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi.

Why we chose it: You can program the thermostat yourself, use voice commands to make temperature adjustments or rely on the device's "smart" capabilities to maintain a comfortable temperature while helping to reduce energy costs.

Best smart thermostat value: Google Nest Thermostat

Google Nest Thermostat

C-Wire Required: No | Self-Installable: Yes | Multi-Zone Support: Yes | Smart Home Integrations: Google Assistant, Alexa, Nest, iOS, Android | Mobile App: Nest app | Optional Accessories: Trim kit | Size: 4.8 x 4.8 x 1.9 inches | Color/Finish Options: Snow, Charcoal, Fog, Sand | Display: 2.4-inch QVGA IPS LCD (240 x 320 pixels)

The Google Nest Thermostat is a scaled-down and less expensive version of the Google Nest Learning Thermostat, our top pick. Like most thermostats in this roundup, this one is Energy Star Certified. 

While you can remotely control this thermostat using a mobile app or voice commands, it keeps track of when you come and go from your home and can turn itself down when you leave. Using the app, it's easy to design an energy-efficient schedule that will keep you comfortable.

Google reports that this thermostat is compatible with 85% of all home HVAC systems and it works without a C wire in most homes. Instead of offering a touchscreen display, the Nest has a touch-sensitive bar around its edge. It runs using two "AAA" batteries.

Why we chose it: This model of the Nest thermostat is not as advanced as the Nest Learning Thermostat and will not do as good of a job helping you to save money on your monthly utility bill. It is, however, more affordable and very easy to operate.

Best touchscreen thermostat: Sensi Touch 2

Sensi Touch 2

C-Wire Required: Yes | Self-Installable: Yes | Multi-Zone Support: Yes | Smart Home Integrations: Google Assistant, Alexa, SmartThings | Mobile App: Sensi Mobile app | Optional Accessories: Trim kit | Size: 5.6 x 3.25 x 0.77 inches | Color/Finish Options: Black, White | Display: 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen

This smart thermostat is impressive for its large and responsive touchscreen. Available in both black and white finishes, it's a full-color unit that boasts a 4.3-inch screen that comes with everything you need for a pain-free installation (and requires a C-wire). 

It's compatible with most systems, and can be used with up to 15 room sensors to ensure you're getting the most out of your heating and cooling system. Those aren't included and cost $40 apiece, but it's an option if you need it for a larger home.

You can connect this gorgeous touchscreen to your favorite smart assistants, including Alexa, Google, and SmartThings, and program it via app or the LCD touch panel. It's simple to control and program, and will let you configure HVAC settings and schedule usage straight from the unit. 

Why we chose it: This smart thermostat is very easy to install, and its large and great-looking touchscreen sets it apart from the rest, especially at this price point. You'll love being able to use in addition to the app to change and schedule heating and cooling options in your home. 

Will a smart thermostat lower my utility bill?

While it's not guaranteed, if you install and use a smart thermostat correctly, you'll likely see a drop in your monthly utility bill. The impact a smart thermostat can have on how much you pay for your home's heating and cooling will be impacted by the size of your home, your usage habits, outside temperature fluctuations throughout the seasons, the efficiency of your HVAC system and a variety of other factors. 

The Google Nest Learning Thermostat's website indicates that independent studies recently showed its product saved people an average of 10% to 12% on their heating bill and 15% on cooling, while research done by Ecobee revealed you could see your home utility bill drop as much as 26% if your home is always set at 72 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Will a smart thermostat continue to function if the Wi-Fi goes down?

This will depend on the make and model of your smart thermostat and your home's HVAC system. Many smart thermostats will continue working if your home Wi-Fi is down, but you will no longer be able to control them remotely or by voice.

Is there a monthly fee associated with using a smart thermostat?

Typically, there is no monthly fee to use a smart thermostat. But there are exceptions. A few smart thermostat manufacturers offer additional services or unlock additional functions if you pay a subscription fee.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.