Well, the year is moving right along, and with it we come to the 11th instalment of our smart home improvements series. Last month we looked at ways to keep your family safe with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This time we’re getting prepared for a potentially cold and harsh winter with a look at smart thermostats. If you’re as averse to the cold as I am, or you simply want to keep yourself and your family warm this Winter in the most cost effective way possible, join me today on this smart thermostat journey.


Why Install a Smart Thermostat?

The reasons to instal a smart thermostat this Fall/Winter are many and varied, but what it mostly boils down to is a combination of your family’s general comfort and your home’s energy efficiency. This is because smart thermostats primarily occupy 2 of the 3 pillars of smart home products: those of Comfort & Convenience and Energy & Efficiency.

The third pillar, Safety & Security, also plays a role, but I would argue that its role in the realm of smart thermostats is somewhat less pronounced than that of the other 2.

While the overall Works with Nest smart home ecosystem does have some excellent safety features built in, such as the ability of the Nest Protect Wi-Fi Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm to not only warn you of a potential fire or carbon monoxide leak in your home, but also to be able to turn off your Nest Wi-Fi Smart Learning Thermostat if your furnace is the culprit in a CO2 leak (no minor contribution!), this thermostat spends the vast majority of its time saving you energy and just being wonderfully convenient. 

Still, the potentially life-saving contributions of Nest’s amazing smart home ecosystem are certainly worth considering. In fact, I recently wrote an entire article on Works with Nest that you should definitely check out. In it I get into some of the interesting and useful ways that the various smart home products operating under the Works with Nest system can communicate with each other and adjust their behaviour to help make your life easier and better, and these things are certainly worth learning about.


Key Features to Look For in a Smart Thermostat

As with other popular smart home devices, there are many useful features to look for when shopping for a new smart thermostat. Some of these are inherent to virtually every smart home product, while others may be more specific to smart thermostats. Among the key features to keep an eye out for are the following:

  • App Based Control – Virtually every features list I’ve created thus far in this series has begun with this particular feature, and that’s because there’s nothing quite like being able to control the electronic devices throughout your home from anywhere in the world (and at any time) via your smart phone or tablet. Naturally, smart thermostats are no different—they too feature app based control that allows for remote viewing and manipulation of your thermostat’s settings from practically anywhere on the planet that has access to Wi-Fi. Enough said.
  • Intuitive Control – Possibly the most attractive feature of a thermostat like the Nest Smart Learning Thermostat is its clever ability to learn your heating and cooling habits and adjust your home’s temperatures according to your typical routine. For instance, after getting used to your work related comings and goings, the Nest Smart Learning Thermostat can figure out when you are likely to be out of the house and adjust the temperature downward so as to save on energy costs. It can even figure out which rooms you like to keep temperature controlled during certain times of the day, week, or year when you are at home. How convenient!
  • Energy Cost Savings – One of the major selling points of a smart thermostat such as the Nest smart learning model is the fact that Nest uses its learning capability to help reduce your energy output. For instance, by learning your schedule of comings and goings over time (along with your individual heating and cooling preferences), the Nest thermostat can use the data it collects to program itself so as to reduce your overall energy consumption by as much as 20% on average. This in turn will reduce your electricity bill and also benefit the environment. Win, win!


A Couple of Great Options

Allow me to be blunt—there’s really only one choice when it comes to buying a smart thermostat. Oh sure, technically there are other options, such as the Honeywell T5+ Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat (shown above), but the one that everyone really seems to want is the Nest Wi-Fi Smart Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation (pictured below). And believe me, Im not disparaging Honeywell smart home products at all by saying this. I own several Honeywell smart home devices myself and have been very well satisfied with their performance, so if Honeywell is your go-to brand, good on ya!

Even so, the Nest thermostat is an extremely popular choice. The particular model that I’ve linked to above is the all new polished steel version, which certainly looks modern and stylish. Amongst its capabilities are features like Weather Aware, where Nest literally monitors the ongoing weather conditions in your area (via the internet) to help it determine (on the fly) how outside temperatures and conditions may affects your heating and cooling requirements. How awesome is that?

Equally impressive is its excellent compatibility record. This 3rd Generation Nest Wi-Fi Smart Learning Thermostat works with over 95 percent of 24V heating and cooling systems. These include gas, oil, electric, hot water, solar, geothermal, radiant, heat pumps, and even forced air systems, ensuring that nearly everyone can incorporate the Nest thermostat into their own smart home.

Of course, I’m barely scratching the surface here. The Nest Wi-Fi Smart Learning Thermostat also offers connectivity to your home’s Wi-Fi network and the Works with Nest Initiative, remote monitoring via smart phone and the Nest App, smart energy savings (as discussed above), and so much more. You really can’t go wrong with any smart thermostat this Winter, but that is especially true of the Nest!


Final Thoughts

When it comes to smart thermostats, there’s really no better way to regulate the temperatures in your home while also enjoying modern smart home convenience and a hefty bundle of sweet energy savings. Whether you decide to go with one of the popular Nest thermostats or a differently branded model, you’ve really got nothing to lose and plenty of savings to gain by installing a smart thermostat this year. Enjoy your cozy warm and energy saving smart home!

Join me next month for the final instalment in our year long smart home improvements series when I consider all the ways to use smart lighting to enhance your home for the holidays.

Check out Best Buy’s other great articles in the 12 months of smart home improvement series!

Leonard Bond
Leo enjoys writing about everything from secret agents to tech toys and gadgets to professional hockey. Find his reviews and other product related commentary right here on the Best Buy Blog and his latest hockey rants at www.hockeycontroversial.com.