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March 26, 2021
A smart thermostat can make a massive difference to your home and can be one of the best ways to control heating options without needing an incredibly complex or awkward setup. Have a read of our guide to see which is the best for your home.
Some of the best smart thermostats are as a result of years of research and development, easily fitting into existing heating systems to add a smart home thermostat option that anybody can use.
But are they worth it? How do you choose the right one for your home? Here is our guide and breakdown on what to look for, what to expect, and what a smart thermostat can offer that a traditional design can't.
Smart thermostats are essentially an upgrade to the existing concept of a thermostat - a device that controls your home's heating system and allows you to adjust how much heating and hot water you're getting at any given time.
With the use of smart technology, these new models offer more functionality than other smart devices.
Whether they're bought as part of a smart home kit or as an individual item, a smart thermostat is designed to provide the same features as a normal home heating thermostat, whilst opening up more ways to save you money and manage your home temperatures. Many of them are also extremely easy to use.
The main difference is that you're able to control your heating using smart home devices, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant hardware. These heating controls can be remote-activated, voice triggered, and often have options for programming your own specific settings for maximum control over your home's heating.
Other than that, they're improved thermostat models: they take the best features a normal thermostat can offer and fold it into a smart thermostat body that provides smart heating controls and benefits, packing more functions and user-friendly options into the same basic appliance.
There are a lot of reasons that many people prefer smart devices, but it almost always comes down to the compatibility and ease of use. Smart thermostats are as easy to install as regular thermostats, but also offer a lot more control and connectivity, which can make them a great way to control your heating.
Voice control means that the thermostat doesn't require a remote or physical screen to use. If you pair it up with something like an Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, you can even create custom heating control settings or voice control commands, allowing you to tailor the heating towards your needs at any time.
You can also use them alongside smart radiator valves and other smart equipment to create homes that are partially programmable. For example, you might prefer to have a heating schedule or change the temperatures of different rooms at different times, and smart features make that very easy to use.
Every smart device is slightly different, so it always comes down to the different features being offered and how you plan to use them. Some will have special features that they use as unique selling points, and others will just be designed as the best smart thermostat that the manufacturer could possibly make.
Whether you want to save money or just need better heating and hot water control, a smart thermostat can be incredibly useful. But what's the best smart thermostat 2021 has to offer? More importantly, how do you choose between all of the smart thermostats on the market?
The Google Nest Thermostat E is marketed as an easy-to-use, remote-controlled way to save you money and improve your heating control accessibility. While not everybody will consider it the best smart thermostat on the market, it's a very simple and compact option that allows you to keep energy bills low.
The touch-based and no-hub design makes it a great addition to other smart items like Google Home and Google Assistant, and it comes with the ability to modulate your temperature automatically through the Heat Link E.
While it doesn't have mind-blowing features on a never-before-seen scale, it's easily one of the best smart thermostats available this year. It's simple, it's easy to install, and it can be adapted to suit a huge variety of different situations through Google Assistant with barely any setup time.
Advanced heating control options make this one of the most varied thermostats available, giving you access to the ecobee Haven service and a SmartSensor system that can manage different hot or cold spots in each room for maximum comfort.
A highly efficient design helps you save money annually (around 23% on average). Other than that, it's a surprisingly easy thermostat to learn, making it one of the best smart heating options for people who already have ecobee devices in their home and need better home heating without the hassle of physical controls.
The Netatmo Smart Thermostat is fully programmable and allows you to trigger your heating remotely, as well as providing you with a full scheduling system and various different modes to get the perfect heating for every hour of the day.
This means that you can turn the heating on in the morning, have it automatically switch off during work hours, and then schedule it to turn back on just before you arrive home. Alternatively, you can adapt it on the fly with nothing but your phone, or have it automatically adapt based on the ambient outdoor temperature.
Through the Honeywell Lyric app, you can alter almost everything about the Honeywell Lyric T6 and how it's heating your home. While it's a wired option that needs to be physically installed, it also comes out much cheaper than options like the Nest, making it perfect for people who care about lower prices.
The Honeywell Evohome system means that you can designate different heating zones, allowing you to identify and control the heating in certain spaces (like a kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom) rather than adjusting the heating for the entire house. Even better, you can use this to avoid heating areas you aren't using, making it easy to save money!
While it's definitely cheaper than many of the other contenders for "best smart thermostat 2021 can offer", that doesn't necessarily make it a lower quality product, and Honeywell is known for making great budget options that can compete with more expensive brands quite well. The Honeywell Lyric T6 is no exception.
Another Nest product, the Google Nest Learning Thermostat, takes the literal idea of a "learning thermostat" and uses it to create a surprisingly effective smart heating tool. The unit can program itself based on your preferred heating patterns, taking notice of the adjustments you make, and building its own schedule.
This makes it a great source of energy savings, giving you a system that can take care of itself in the long-term. While it might take a while for the Nest Learning Thermostat to gather all the data it needs, it can become a very useful tool for people who are already big fans of Google Home-related products.
The Nest thermostat 'heating prediction feature' also means that you don't need to rely on a Google Assistant to adjust your heat options every time. The Learning Thermostat will act as an accessory to an existing Google Assistant, following your own preference and patterns to try and stay one step ahead of your needs.
The Hive Active Heating thermostats are designed to seamlessly blend into your existing heating system, providing a simple scheduling system and easy dial-based control knob for people who prefer physical interfaces. However, it's also very easy to use, with any smart-phone and comes in a very compact body that doesn't occupy a lot of space.
This simple thermostat doesn't need much of a description, because it's simple in the best possible way: small, convenient, and perfect for reducing the bills you get from your energy company or local council. It even sends alerts if you leave the heating on when you normally shouldn't or wouldn't.
The Tado Smart Thermostat is an all-purpose smart thermostat, available as either a wireless or wired appliance. It can be connected to radiator valves, underfloor heating, and plenty of other independent heating options, letting you adjust your home's temperature with nothing but wi-fi and a phone.
This Tado design is meant to take local weather forecasts and use them to adapt to a routine, dropping the temperature if the sun is going to heat up your indoor spaces. Not only that, but it can tell you about the nearby air quality, and has an open window detection system to warn you of areas where heat could be leaking out.
Drayton Wiser smart radiator thermostat designs can work with the normal Drayton Wiser kits to create a multi-zone heating system, using a twist-top interface that's easy to adjust without sticking or jamming. The simple construction makes them very accessible to almost any homeowner and allows for very precise adjustments.
Multiple sensors allow for high accuracy when judging the ambient room temperature, and the Wiser Heat app can easily adjust almost everything about how they work. You even have the option of switching them to a manual override if you need to suddenly boost or drop the heat in a certain space, saving you from ruining your schedule.
If you're interested in getting a smart thermostat of your own, now is as good a time as any. They've entered their third generation and are gradually becoming more and more popular, especially since smart homes are more common than ever.
A decent smart thermostat can be a great addition to any home, especially with features like the Nest system. Tying your heating into Nest, Google Home, or some other option can give you a lot of pros with very few cons, making it extremely easy to manage your heating effectively.
Most of them are relatively cheap, especially for something with so many options, and it's not hard to end up with a good model completely by accident even if you're looking at the cheaper end of the spectrum. They also generally don't need a whole lot of repair work, so it's not like you'll have to replace or service the thermostat constantly.
Something so high-tech allows you to build a home heating system that's tailored to your needs, often without actually having to do much work yourself.
There are downsides, of course. Some options can fetch high prices, and if you're aiming to buy within the UK to support local businesses, you might not end up being able to get certain options if they aren't already in stock.
The initial price of installing everything can be quite high if you do it all at once, especially if you have to replace an old boiler or piece of pipework to do it.
High-tech gear doesn't always work with older equipment, so sometimes a full upgrade and overhaul are almost necessary.
People in the UK have a lot of thermostat choice, but that doesn't mean that it's easy to choose one for your home. Even if you know what your home needs, you need to find the right thermostat for the job.
Most of the time, the best smart thermostats are the ones that can create hot water reliably and consistently. How they look and the way that they fit in your home can be important too, but if they can't make hot water at a decent rate, then what's the point of having the thermostat at all?
UK houses don't necessarily need incredibly high or low temperature most of the time, but you never know, so limiting yourself isn't always a good idea. Paying slightly higher prices in the UK for a thermostat that can reach really high values might pay off in the future, and even if it doesn't, more expensive models often come with extra features.
In the UK, boilers may also be slightly different from other countries, but most items will be fully interchangeable. It's still a good idea to look at the thermostats from the perspective of a UK buyer: some options from certain
American states may be more focused on the lower temperatures due to the higher ambient temperatures.
There's no shame in seeing price as important. Brands like Honeywell and Nest are always going to have different price structures, and one person might find Honeywell expensive while another sees it as cheap. The price of your chosen smart thermostat is important in judging how 'worth it' the purchase was.
For example, buying a Nest thermostat for a high price but finding something cheaper and better is always a bit of a blow to your confidence and your wallet. That doesn't make Nest bad, but if you aren't using half the features that Nest thermostats can offer, you're paying for things that you won't use.
It can be a good idea to sign up to major smart thermostat manufacturer or seller sites (which usually just takes an email address) since you might get notifications on deals or promotions that unregistered users won't. Some even offer limited-time discounts with no strings attached, which can be very useful for keeping the price down.
Let's say you buy a Google Nest Thermostat E. That might work with devices that use the Honeywell Evohome systems or an Apple Homekit, but it also might not, and compatibility isn't always easy to sort out. While devices like Amazon Alexa might function alongside the Apple Homekit fairly well, that doesn't mean that it will be a flawless connection.
When you want to manage your heat, link as many items as you can together. Hot water control works best when you can use a single device (like an Amazon Alexa) to control your smart thermostats and other smart home tools.
If you look into the details of each smart thermostat, it might even tell you which devices it can be paired with.
Always look into the specifics. Can Hive Active Heating smart thermostats work with Amazon Alexa? How about the Apple Homekit? What about Honeywell or Tado equipment?
Often, if you want the best functionality, you'll want to limit how many brands you work with. However, companies like Tado almost exclusively produce smart thermostats and not much other heating gear: in this instance, Tado smart thermostat models need to work alongside other tools like Next or Amazon Alexa systems, since you can't go out and buy a Tado boiler.
There are definitely ways to make something like a Tado smart thermostat work with a whole host of other brands' items, but it still isn't always the best idea. Each time you introduce a new brand into your system, you have a chance of certain features not working as they should, so be careful with how extreme you decide to go.
For companies like Tado, they usually build their products so that they can be supported by most major brands, and will have generic connections thatmake them suitable for use alongside most other smaller brands too. Just be sure to check out places like the official Tado site to see if there are any specific details that Tado has put out since they might be aware of specific compatibility problems.
Some smart thermostats are much easier to add to a heating system than others. If your heating systems are older, or you have a modern central heating system that already uses its own thermostats, then you might need to work around some of those limitations or get a third party to do the work for you.
British Gas are a common choice for any kind of heating system alteration and repair work, but British Gas can also charge a high price for smaller tasks. On the other hand, trying to adjust your system yourself can also lead to major problems, which in turn leads to even higher repair prices.
Always check multiple sites or places within the market to get an idea of how much installation you would have to do. In many instances, a smart thermostat requires other smart items, with smart radiator valves being very common. Of course, if you already have those, then it's generally not something to be concerned about.
Marketing can be both a blessing and a curse depending on what you're buying. For example, Google's Nest options are great, and most of the Nest marketing is accurate to the product, but it's possible to get the wrong impression from certain Nest reviews or unofficial product listings. Some sites might also mix products like the Nest Thermostat E and Nest Learning Thermostat up, which can quickly become confusing.
Marketing generally can't outright lie, but you don't always hear about the flaws, so be sure to look up as much as you can before you make a purchase. This include warranties, return options, overall quality, lifespans, and even basic things like how they're delivered or packages.
You always want to make sure that you're buying the product you were expecting. A lot of review sites will show Squirrel widget links, for example: while they don't show Squirrel widget details directly to readers, they still show Squirrel widget links as actual links, which are often used to get affiliate profits.
This isn't a bad thing, since most sites that show Squirrel widget links or other link types will have a disclaimer stating that "links on our site are affiliate links". However, when they show Squirrel widget hyperlinks or other paid placements, it's always possible that they're slightly biased towards a certain product.
The main draw of getting any smart thermostat is the fact that they're very easy to use and offer a lot of practical benefits. A lot of them operate over wi-fi connections, which mean that you can adjust them from anywhere in the home, and others use their wi-fi or internet connections to give you control as long as your phone has an internet connection too.
This means that some smart thermostat designs can be used to set up hot water in your home while you're still working at the office, something that many people feel is well worth the price. On the other hand, other people may prefer the convenience of something more mundane, like automatic schedules or the ability to turn off the heat to certain rooms individually.
To get the most out of some of the best smart thermostats on the market, you need to be prepared to potentially buy other items too. Some of the best smart thermostat setups require smart radiator valves or other heating gear, which can be one of the major cons alongside the many pros of having a smart heating system.
If you already have them installed, then there's no need to worry about them. For people who only have one or two smart devices, though, it can take quite a long time to get everything at reasonable prices, then install it in perpetration for the heating system.
You can't generally install some of the complex smart thermostats without the basic gear you need already there. If you do, you'll have to go back and connect them up when they are installed, which can sometimes take a lot more effort than you would normally expect.
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