A smart thermostat can easily lower your energy bill, and the technology will transform the way you think about heating and cooling your home.

By Linley Sanders
Updated December 05, 2018

You don’t need to be a tech-obsessed homeowner to embrace the benefits of a smart thermostat. The small devices connect to your WiFi and automatically adjust your home’s heating and cooling to match your busy lifestyle. Smart thermostats effectively regulate your in-home temperature without much oversight required, and they are small enough to blend seamlessly into your home design.

The best smart thermostat brands are more versatile than a traditional programmable thermostat, and they offer global connectivity so you never have to wonder if you remembered to turn off the heater. In addition to providing added convenience, smart thermostats offer consistent savings on your monthly energy bill. If you’re still unsure about how a smart thermostat would work in your home, we have a few reasons that might warm you up to the cost-saving technology.

1. Save Money on Your Energy Bill

An undeniable perk of the smart thermostat is the bottom line savings on your energy bill. According to Energy Star, an energy efficiency program run by the U.S. Department of Energy, the average American household spends more than $900 a year on heating and cooling their home. By employing a smart thermostat that adjusts your home to energy-saving temperatures when people are gone, homeowners can ensure they arrive at a comfortable house without wasting electricity. For bonus savings, you can earn a rebate in some parts of the U.S. for using an Energy Star smart thermostat.

Elizabeth Mathes, the Director of Smart Home for The Home Depot, recommends Ecobee and Nest smart thermostats for budget-focused homeowners. Mathes says that the Ecobee3 Lite saves people an average of 23 percent annually on heating and cooling costs. Instead of relying on a singular hallway thermostat, the Ecobee uses sensors to monitor individual room temperatures, and it provides free energy reports to users. Alternatively, the Nest E, which displays daily energy records to help families track their use over time, saves people “an average of 10 to 12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills,” Mathes says.

2. Control the Temperature from Anywhere

Modify your smart thermostat’s settings whether you are snuggled in bed or jet-setting around the globe. Top brands like Nest Learning Thermostat, Ecobee3, Honeywell, and Sensi offer an app that acts as a smart thermostat remote control on your phone, tablet, or computer. Users can monitor their home’s room-by-room temperature, adjust timer settings, and understand how much energy their home is consuming.

Most smart thermostats also allow you to set a regular home departure and arrival time in the app, enabling the heating and air conditioning system to kick on with enough time to ensure you arrive at a comfortable home without wasting energy. If you need to override that, it can be easily updated in the app when you are on the go. The easy smartphone control gives “consumers the peace of mind that they’re not wasting energy or money when away from home,” Mathes says.

3. Benefit the Environment

When you reduce your home’s overall energy consumption, it can benefit the environment in a significant way. Energy Star estimates that if everyone installed a certified smart thermostat, people would save a total of $740 million per year and offset 13 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions, which equals the emissions of 1.2 million vehicles.

Energy Star endorses 36 energy-efficient models that are proven to reduce your environmental footprint, but Honeywell is the brand with the most Energy Star-certified smart thermostats. Several of the Energy Star picks, like the Honeywell Lyric T6 Pro and Nest Learning Thermostat, offer geofencing to track a homeowner’s smartphone location and adjust the temperature to an eco-friendly mode when they are away.

4. Save Surprising Time on Installation

Smart home thermostats can be surprisingly easy to install—even if you don’t consider yourself tech-savvy. Mathes says her Home Depot customers manage to “take their home from analog to interconnected” with the easy-to-use smart devices that can sometimes be easier to install than traditional appliances.

“Recently, The Home Depot commissioned a survey of 1,000 Americans that found that 39 percent of smart home buyers were surprised by how easy the tech was to install after purchase, including popular smart thermostats sold online and in-store,” Mathes says. “The majority of consumers who have installed themselves spend less than two hours self-installing.”

5. Let the Smart Thermostat Learn Your Routine

The Nest Learning Thermostat highlights its ability to learn your routine and use its algorithm to reduce energy use. After you turn up the heat at 8 a.m. for a few days, the smart thermostat will automatically program itself to warm the house before you get out of bed. If you enable the smart thermostat to know your phone’s location, it will trigger an eco-friendly mode when you leave for work. After a few days of initial use, the smart thermostat will determine the most comfortable and affordable way to regulate your home’s temperature.

6. Incorporate Smart Scheduling

A key benefit of smart thermostats is that they learn your daily routine, and you can essentially forget about needing to reprogram them. You can set the ideal home temperature for when you wake up, go to sleep, and arrive home, then just live your life. The smart thermostat will begin cooling your home in the evening to save energy, warm it before you get out of bed, and learn when you leave for work. Most smart thermostats, including Honeywell Lyric and Sensi, offer geofencing technology to regulate temperature when you're away, while other models incorporate motion sensors.

7. Use Weather Forecasts to Your Advantage

Surprising cold snaps or snowstorms can change the weather in an instant while you are at work, and no one wants to arrive at an uncomfortably cold house. Smart thermostats like the Nest E use local weather forecasts to recognize when the temperature outside is unexpectedly changing. If necessary, the smart thermostat will turn on the heat early in order to have your home warm when you arrive. The same technology works in the summer to battle humidity and heat waves in a cost-effective way.

8. Connect with Smart Speakers

If you are looking at a smart thermostat, there is a good chance you’ve already incorporated a smart speaker into your home, like Amazon Echo or Google Home. Many smart thermostats, like the Nest Learning Thermostat, are compatible with smart speakers, making it easy to turn up the heat without lifting a finger. Ask the smart device, “What is the temperature in the house?” or you can tell it to “make the temperature warmer by 5 degrees,” and it will regulate the temperature without you leaving the comfort of your couch.

9. Protect Your Home Security Data

A smart thermostat can memorize your schedule—but only if you want it to. Geofencing technology can track a homeowner’s smartphone location if you enable it, which allows the smart thermostat to register when you enter and leave a perimeter around your home. If it is not enabled, the smart thermostat will focus on learning your desired settings based on the information available. Some users worry broadly about privacy with smart home integration, but the data collected by the leading smart thermostat companies is restricted to protect the owner's private information.

“Smart home technology was designed with the purpose of giving consumers peace of mind in all aspects that their home and privacy are secure, whether they’re at home or away,” Mathes says.

10. Link with Other Smart Home Devices

Connect your smart thermostat to other smart home devices, such as a smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector. If a fire is detected in your home, the Nest Protect signals the connected Nest Thermostat to turn off the heat to keep the flames from spreading. The device checks its batteries and sensors over 400 times a day, and it can be monitored from your smartphone. Nest offers several other smart home integrations, including a smart doorbell, security cameras, and home locks. Ecobee offers a smart light switch, and Honeywell sells smart home security cameras.