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Smart Thermostat Buyer’s Guide

Smart thermostats are one of the best ways to make your home more energy efficient, but figuring out which thermostat is right for you can be daunting. There are so many things to consider. What features does it offer? Does it work with my other smart home devices? How much does it cost? All these questions and more can make shopping for a thermostat overwhelming.

This guide is designed to help you start answering some of those questions, but it won’t be able to answer all of them. There is more information about these devices than we could ever hope to cover in a single blog post. Use the information below to help narrow your search. Then, do your own investigation to ensure you have found the best option.


Energy Star is a program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy that promotes energy efficiency. When you see the blue Energy Star sticker on a product, you know they have proven it to be energy efficient.

As wonderful as these products are, you can always end up with a lemon. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Most of these products offer limited warranty. Look at the one for the product you are considering to ensure it covers what you would expect.

All the smart thermostats listed in our comparison chart have the capability of setting heating and cooling schedules as well as adjusting your settings from your phone, but there are other features to consider that make these products more efficient than your standard thermostat. Geo-fencing creates a virtual perimeter around your home and tells your thermostat when you are away so that it will adjust the temperature accordingly. Sensors can be purchased separately or in a bundle and offer more precise location detection. Some will even use their motion sensing capability to detect when you enter a room to make specialized adjustments.

Not all smart thermostats have built in voice control, but the majority will pair with a central hub of some sort. Those are the little things we yell commands at. “Alexa, add toothpaste to my shopping list.” “Siri, turn on the lights.” “Google, set a timer for twenty minutes.” These hubs pair with your other devices to make a more integrated smart home system. Not all thermostats are compatible with all hub devices. Be sure the one you buy matches what you already have in your home.

Yes, smart thermostats can be expensive, but they don’t have to be. They range in price from $100 to well over $200. While cost can be a limiting factor, there are rebates available to help offset this cost. OEC offers a rebate on programmable thermostats, including most smart thermostats, and gives electric members a rebate of $50 on up to two devices per home. You can learn more at the link below.


Energy Efficiency Rebates


Below are some of the most popular smart thermostat brands. All of them have Energy Star approval and offer an array of features and alerts ranging from humidity controls to playing music. Sadly, we cannot go over every feature available on this list. You can click on the brand name to visit their sites and learn more. Regardless of if you use one of these or choose another brand, be sure to read up on the features it offers before you buy it.

One topic we didn’t cover is installation. While most of these come with easy-to-follow self-installation guides, differences in wiring and your own personal knowledge make it difficult to say just how easy self-installation will be for each one. The best advice we can offer is to read over the guide and compare it to what you have in your home. Then, depending on your personal comfort level, decide if you want to attempt the installation yourself or hire an expert to do it for you.

We hope this guide helps cut through some of the confusion and makes it easier for you to narrow your search for the perfect smart thermostat, making your home more comfortable, connected, and energy-efficient.

Learn more about the money-saving effects a smart thermostat can have on your energy bills from OEC’s Co-op News!

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