Best Smart Thermostat: The 6 thermostats to save you money

A smart thermostat is the one smart home device in which everyone should invest. It’s a brilliant way to ensure your heating needs are more accurately served, it’s convenient, and it can also save you money. Not all smart thermostats are equal, though, so our roundup will help you find the right model for your home.
   
Thanks to more advanced scheduling and the ability to learn how your home heats up, smart thermostats are more efficient than regular models and can save you a fortune in heating bills. Plus, by offering remote control via a smartphone app, you can turn your heating on or off, no matter where you are – which is great if you’re heading off on holiday and suddenly realise that your heating is still on at full power.

There are numerous smart thermostats to choose from, each offering a variety of features, so it’s important to pick the one that suits your lifestyle and home.

First, you need to consider the type of heating system you want. A regular smart thermostat, such as the 3rd-gen Nest Learning Thermostat, simply replaces your existing thermostat. Although you’ll still save money with such a system, it will be your heating settings that control your entire home.

With a zoned heating system, such as the Honeywell Evohome, you get room-by-room control via smart thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs). Such a system will save you even more money since you’ll be heating only the areas you’re using at any given time. The downside is that the initial outlay for such systems can be costly: typically around £50 to £70 per radiator. They’re a better option for houses with a greater number of rooms to control.

Voice control is becoming a more important feature, in the form of Alexa on the Amazon Echo or Siri using Apple HomeKit. Being able to simply tell your thermostat to turn the heating up or down is a convenient way to control the temperature in your home. Alexa support is more widespread, with HomeKit support lagging since Apple requires that kit has a built-in encryption chip.

In addition, there are thermostats that offer presence detection via a smartphone. The models that do this well – the Tado, for example – can automatically turn off the heat when everyone is out, and turn it back on when the first person returns home. Again, this can lead to huge cost savings, as you’ll no longer be paying for heating that nobody is around to enjoy.

IFTTT support allows you to integrate other devices with your smart heating system. For example, you can use Tado’s presence detection to enable a smart camera to turn on automatically; or you can make your heating turn off automatically when the temperature outside hits a certain point. The combinations are almost limitless.

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Key features:

  • Automatically learns when and how to heat your home
  • Detects if you’re home or away
  • Includes hot water control
  • Completely app-controlled heating and water

Think of smart thermostats and the Nest Learning Thermostat is likely to be one of the first to spring to mind. That’s for good reason, too, since this is the product that showed how powerful smart heating could be. Now in its third generation, the Nest Learning Thermostat remains one of the best smart thermostats you can buy.

As the name suggests, the thermostat learns how you like your home heated, thereafter creating an automatic schedule for you. Not surprisingly, there’s a bit of a learning curve. In the first few weeks, the Nest may not work quite the way you want it. Over time, however, it should prove to be better than a manually set schedule on another thermostat.

Presence detection lets the thermostat turn on and off automatically, based on whether or not you’re home . The Nest is also brilliant at talking to other devices. Via the Works With Nest program, a variety of other smart devices will work with your smart thermostat. For example, your Philips Hue lights can turn off when you go out. With an excellent IFTTT channel and support for Amazon Alexa (HomeKit support doesn’t seem likely), the Nest is one of the best-connected smart thermostats available.

This latest version supports dual-zone plumbing and can be extended to support hot water systems, too. There are no smart radiator valves to add full zoning, however.

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At the time of the review, the Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Gen) was available for £199.

Read the full Nest Thermostat review

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Key features:

  • Remote control via Android and iOS apps
  • Quick Action controls
  • Expandable system
  • IFTTT support
  • Alexa support
  • Hot water and heating controls

No company has as much experience in the heating arena as Honeywell. It should be no surprise, then, that the company’s first smart product is so comprehensive. Rather than replacing your basic smart thermostat, the Evohome adds room-by-room control through smart thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs).

Although this adds to the initial setup cost – you’ll need a £59 TRV per radiator – it will be possible to save money thereafter since you’ll only need to heat the rooms you’re using. Also, each room is set to its perfect temperature, making for a much more comfortable home environment.

Honeywell has refined and expanded its system since launch. The smartphone app has improved immeasurably, making it easy to control each room and view the state of your home at-a-glance. In addition, the Evohome has a dedicated touchscreen controller for your home, so you don’t need to reach for your smartphone.

IFTTT support has been added, too, so you can control Evohome via other smart devices. For example, you can set your heating to turn off when you go out using IFTTT, making up for the fact that there’s no integrated presence detection. Amazon Alexa support lets you control the system with your voice, too.

Honeywell’s Evohome may be one of the most expensive systems around, but it’s also one of the best – and ideal for larger installations.

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At the time of the review, the Honeywell Evohome costs from £250.

Read the full Honeywell Evohome review

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Key features:

  • Proximity-based temperature control
  • Wired internet bridge and thermostat
  • Android, iOS and Windows Phone app support
  • Web browser control
  • Expandable with smart radiator valves
  • Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit support

Tado launched with the sole goal of making smart heating systems easy to use, and it certainly succeeded. The Tado Smart Thermostat is designed to track your location so that your heating goes off when you’re out and turns back on when you’re on the way home. It works brilliantly, and has the most reliable presence detection we’ve tested.

Since launch, Tado has updated the apps and web interface to add a new heating scheduler, letting you choose the temperature that you want your home at hour-by-hour. Plus, there are option for when you’re out, picking between maximum savings (with the potential to return to a colder home) or maximum comfort (spending more to keep your home warmer). The app is simple to use, making the Tado Smart Thermostat one of the easiest systems to programme.

Tado’s system is also very flexible. With the launch of the Smart Radiator Thermostats, the system can be as powerful as Evohome. However, Tado’s radiator valves aren’t quite as smart, and the app’s zone handling isn’t quite as easy to use as that of Honeywell.

Throw in Amazon Alexa support, IFTTT and HomeKit (via the V3 internet bridge), and Tado’s Smart Thermostat is one of the most powerful available. If you don’t want to buy outright, you can even rent the kit, paying monthly for it.

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At the time of the review, the Tado Smart Thermostat costs £200.

Read the full Tado Smart Thermostat review

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Key features:

  • Proximity-based temperature control
  • Wired internet bridge and thermostat
  • Android, iOS and Windows Phone app support
  • Web browser control
  • IFTTT channel
  • Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit support

The Netatmo Smart Thermostat is one of the cheapest such systems you can buy, but that doesn’t mean it lacks features. In fact, it’s one of the most flexible heating systems around, and with the launch of smart radiator valves, it’s one you can expand to fit your needs. You can adjust your main heating via the battery-powered E Ink thermostat, which looks gorgeous. Since you can carry it around, it’s possible to keep the room you’re currently using at exactly the right temperature.

A simple smartphone app makes control while at home and away straightforward, with easy scheduling making it possible to keep your home at the right temperature hour-by-hour. There’s no built-in presence detection to switch your heating on and off automatically, but you can add this using IFTTT.

Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit integration make the Netatmo Smart Thermostat one of the few that can be controlled via the two biggest voice systems. While the thermostat lacks a little polish of more expensive systems have, its low price makes it an enticing prospect.

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At the time of the review, the Netatmo Smart Thermostat costs £149.

Read the full Netatmo Smart Thermostat review

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Key features:

  • Wireless thermostat
  • Browser, Android and iOS apps for remote thermostat control
  • Location detection
  • Hive ecosystem support
  • IFTTT channel
  • Amazon Alexa support

The original Hive system was rather basic, but all of the stops have been pulled out for the Active Heating 2. The freshly designed thermostat looks fantastic, giving the Nest a run for its money. It’s easier to use, too.

The neat smartphone app makes it simply to set up schedules, and it’s capable of tracking your location, so that your heating activates automatically depending on whether or not you’re at home. There’s hot water support, too.

A recent update adds IFTTT support, so you can finally integrate the Hive with other smart devices. Plus, Hive has a growing infrastructure of its own devices to help you build your own smart home, ranging from motion sensors to the new Hive Active Light smart lightbulbs. A little finesse is required (there’s no dedicated physical switch for the light bulbs, for example), but the add-ons are starting to make Hive a more  compelling choice.

If you’re a happy DIYer, you can buy the thermostat for £179 and fit it yourself. Alternatively, you can buy it for £249, which includes professional installation.

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At the time of the review, the Hive Active Heating 2 costs £249.

Read the full Hive Active Heating 2 review

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Key features:

  • Modular, expansive smart home heating
  • Room-by-rooom (zone-by-zone) temperature control
  • Detects open windows to stop heating that room
  • Smartphone and web browser apps
  • Movement tracker detects room occupancy

It might look like one of the most basic, but Heat Genius is one of the most advanced smart heating systems in this group. It’s designed to give you room-by-room control of your home via smart radiator TRVs. In this way, you’ll see better savings compared to a smart thermostat only, and more comfortable temperatures in each room.

Heat Genius’ real benefit comes from the range of additional devices that make your home smarter. The Genius Room Sensor, for example, learns when you normally enter a room to create an automatic schedule for you; it also turns off your heating automatically when you leave a room. You can buy optional room thermostats, which take a more accurate temperature reading, particularly if a smart TRV is located behind furniture.

Manual control of the Heat Genius system is possible via the app, which we found to be a little clunky and not quite as smooth as the competition. It’s good to see that IFTTT support has been added, so you can integrate Heat Genius with other devices and add extra features, such as presence detection via your mobile phone. IFTTT support means you can add some control via Amazon Alexa, although a dedicated ‘skill’ would be nice.

Hot water support is available for homes that don’t have a combi boiler. More recently, you can buy smart plugs for controlling other electrical appliances, too.

Slightly ugly hardware, the requirement to have a separate internet bridge, and the high costs once you factor everything in disappoint. However, Heat Genius is incredibly advanced and more customisable than rival systems.

At the time of the review, the Heat Genius costs £250.

Read the full Heat Genius Smart Heating System review