Smart home tech is all about convenience, and smart thermostats can even save you money with more efficient heating and cooling. If you're looking to upgrade your home, you've come to the right place.
The Nest Learning Thermostat observes how you adjust the temperature depending on factors like the time of day and outside temperature, and automatically creates a heating and cooling schedule for your convenience. It saves on energy bills and looks great doing it.
The sleek thermostat that does most of the work for you.
Nest's third-gen thermostat isn't just the best-looking option around; it's the smartest, too. With automatic scheduling and Eco Mode, it can shave a significant amount off of your monthly electric bill.
Who should buy this thermostat
Most homes could benefit from a smart thermostat, but especially if you're prone to high energy bills because of frequent heating and/or cooling, the Nest Learning Thermostat should be on your shortlist. With its automatic scheduling and the ability to turn off while you're away, it can pay itself off within a matter of years or even months. Just be mindful if you're renting that not all apartment complexes will allow you to replace their provided thermostat, so be sure to ask beforehand.
Is it a good time to buy this thermostat?
Yes! The Nest Learning Thermostat is in its third generation, and while this model has been out since September of 2015, it's still plenty capable with no rumors of a fourth iteration coming out any time soon.
Reasons to buy
- Sleek stainless steel design
- Learns from your behavior
- Controllable via phone or voice assistant
- Eligible for rebates through most energy companies
Reasons not to buy
- Room sensors not included
- No HomeKit compatibility
The thermostat that does the work for you
Heating and cooling are some of the biggest factors of your monthly energy bill, so it makes sense for most people to consider picking up a smart thermostat that better manages the temperature of your home. While there are plenty of great options available, nothing beats the convenience of Nest's Learning Thermostat.
Nest learns how you tend to adjust the temperature throughout the day and automatically builds a heating and cooling schedule for you.
Like most smart thermostats, Nest's offering can be controlled by your phone or through a voice assistant like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa (though notably, the Learning Thermostat isn't compatible with Apple's HomeKit service). You can set the temperature remotely, or simply rotate the stainless steel dial around the frosted glass display. The Nest Learning Thermostat can also detect when you've left the house to automatically shut down heating and cooling, and resumes things when you return.
The Nest's defining feature, though, is its ability to learn your preferences by keeping track of when you change the temperature throughout the day, along with factors like the current temperature outside of your home, and begins to automatically create its own schedule so that you never have to think about it.
It also optimizes energy with Eco Mode, where the Learning Thermostat turns on heating and cooling periodically to maintain optimal settings without wasting power. Nest even keeps track of your energy savings, and provides you with helpful analytics throughout the year.
Alternatives to the Learning Thermostat
Not everybody needs to spend upwards of $200 on a smart thermostat, and some people may prioritize features like a room temperature sensor over automatic schedule creation. Whatever the case, these are the best alternatives to Nest's flagship thermostat.
Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
A better value than the Nest without the automated schedule creation.
The Ecobee4 is the most popular alternative to Nest's Learning Thermostat. For roughly the same price, it includes a room sensor, and has Amazon's Alexa service built in.
You won't get Nest's automatic schedule creation with the Ecobee4, but most of the other features are here. It can detect when you leave the house and turn off heating/cooling automatically, and the included room temperature sensor comes in handy for homes with multiple floors. With Alexa built directly into the unit, you can even call out temperature change commands to it without needing a dedicated smart speaker.
Nest Thermostat E
Automated temperature controls for tighter budgets.
If you aren't concerned with the Learning Thermostat's stainless steel design, the Nest Thermostat E offers nearly all the same features for considerably less.
The Thermostat E is a great alternative to Nest's higher-end model for considerably cheaper. The display isn't as sharp and the Thermostat E doesn't work with quite as many HVAC systems, but from Auto Away to Eco Mode and automatic schedule creation, it's a nearly identical experience to the Learning Thermostat in a white plastic body.
Great smart thermostats don't have to cost an arm and a leg.
The Ecobee3 Lite is remarkably similar to the Ecobee4, though it doesn't have Amazon's Alexa voice assistant built in, and you won't find a room sensor in the box.
Even the most affordable smart thermostat goes a long way over the ones included with your home. The Ecobee3 Lite doesn't have Alexa built in like the Ecobee4, nor does it include a room sensor, but you can still create schedules and control the thermostat from your phone or voice assistant — and unlike Nest's thermostats, the Ecobee3 Lite is compatible with Apple's HomeKit.
Even without an included room sensor, the Nest Learning Thermostat is hard to beat with its automatic schedule creation based on your behavior. Still, the Thermostat E offers almost all the same features if you don't mind the plastic body, and Ecobee's offerings include a touchscreen and, in the case of the Ecobee4, built-in Alexa assistance and a room sensor.
Ultimately, any of the smart thermostats listed above will reduce your energy bill and make your life a bit more convenient. With remote control via your phone, you'll never have to come home to an ice box in the winter — or a sauna in the summer — again.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Hayato Huseman is a recovering trade show addict and writer for Android Central based out of Indianapolis. He can mostly be found complaining about the cold and enthusing about prog metal on Twitter at @hayatohuseman.
Andrew Martonik is the Executive Editor, U.S., for Android Central. Keeping you up to date with mobile news and analysis since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @andrewmartonik.
Joe Maring is Android Central's News Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He's been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012, and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. He's on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.