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What Are the Best Smart Thermostats?

Fiona Leake
Fiona Leake
  | Edited by Fiona Leake
Updated 8th February 2021

Smart thermostats are a popular new piece of technology that can make heating your home easier and more efficient than ever. The best smart thermostats have a huge range of features that aim to save you money on your bills. Our guide covers everything from smart thermostat installation to whether it’s worth getting one.

What is a smart thermostat?

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Smart thermostats connect your heating to Wi-Fi. This allows you to control the temperature of your home via your smartphone, tablet or computer. 

If you pop out and forget to turn your heating off, you can use your smart thermostat app to switch it off. Or, if you’re on the way home on a chilly night, you can switch on your heating remotely before you get home.

Smart thermostats help you to remotely take control of your heating and monitor your usage. This will allow you to heat your home efficiently and potentially save money.

How do smart thermostats work? 

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Smart thermostats work wirelessly by connecting one component to your boiler. This component communicates with the smart thermostat via Wi-Fi.

You can download the app for your smart thermostat on your phone, tablet or computer to then control your heating remotely.

Many boilers are compatible with smart thermostats but you’ll have to check this before installation. We’ll cover this in more detail below. 

Here’s how most smart thermostats work when you want to remotely change the temperature of your home:

  1. You open the app on your smartphone and set your desired temperature.
  2. This new setting is wirelessly sent to your home.
  3. Your Wi-Fi sends the new temperature setting to your smart thermostat.
  4. Your smart thermostat adjusts its temperature which sends a signal to your boiler which will then either turn on or off.

Do smart thermostats work without the internet?

If your Wi-Fi goes down, you will no longer be able to control your smart thermostat remotely via the app. However, you can adjust the heating manually on the thermostat. 

Your heating will stay on even if the internet goes down, just make sure you remember to turn it off manually until your Wi-Fi is back.

Do smart thermostats work with all boilers?

Smart thermostats do typically work with all boilers. 

As long as your boiler is controlled by a standard thermostat or programmer, it should be compatible. However, smart thermostats don’t tend to work with storage heaters.

Always check whether your boiler is compatible with the manufacturer before purchasing a smart thermostat.

Can smart thermostats help you save money?

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You aren’t guaranteed to save money by having a smart thermostat installed. You’ll only make savings if you use your smart thermostat as a tool to monitor your heating usage. 

You can save money with a smart thermostat if…

  • You want to make lifestyle changes - smart thermostats tell you how much heating you’re using and it’s cost. If you’re prepared to make changes, a smart thermostat can motivate you to save by being constantly aware of your usage. 
  • You’re tech-savvy - if you’re comfortable with using apps to control your heating, a smart thermostat app can be a great money-saving tool.
  • You have a busy lifestyle - if you’re constantly on the go, a smart thermostat makes controlling and monitoring your heating easy. 
  • You have a routine - smart thermostats are smart for a reason - they can learn your routine! This means that it’ll make sure your home is only warm when needed. 
  • You don’t have a routine - if you are home at different times each day, a smart thermostat allows you to easily adjust your heating no matter what your routine.
  • You’re settled - if you are planning on staying in the same property for many years, you’ll pay off the cost of the installation with the savings you make. 

You should avoid a smart thermostat if…

  • You’re forgetful - if you aren’t going to remember to remotely control your heating using the app, a smart thermostat might be a waste of money. 
  • You aren’t tech-savvy - if you don’t use a smartphone, tablet or computer, you might not be able to benefit from smart thermostats.
  • You’re planning on moving - don’t pay to have a smart thermostat installed if you are planning to move in the next year or so. You won’t recoup the money you spent on the installation in time. 
  • You have poor insulation - if your property lacks double glazing, roof insulation and floor insulation then focus on fixing that first before installing a smart thermostat. You’ll make more savings that way!

How much do smart thermostats cost?

Smart thermostats cost between £150 and £280. It mainly depends on the make and model you go for. The more smart features, the higher it’ll cost.

Here is a table of comparison of the three main smart thermostat providers. You can see the best price. For more information on each one, keep reading below:

ProductPriceLink
Hive Active Heating£199See Deal
Tado Smart Thermostat£199.99See Deal
Honeywell evohome£218.99See Deal
Nest Learning Thermostat£219See Deal

If you also opt for a professional smart thermostat installation, you can expect to pay another £50 to £100 on top.

Smart thermostats are usually easy to install yourself, we will explain how to install a smart thermostat below.

When will my smart thermostat pay for itself?

Most smart thermostat companies will state how long it’ll take before the thermostat will start paying for itself. 

For example, British Gas claims its smart thermostat could save you £130 a year on your energy bills. Whilst others claim that their smart thermostats will pay for themselves within a year. 

Be wary of these bold claims as it depends on how you use your smart thermostat and if you consciously change your habits. Most of these claims are based on the idea that, before the smart thermostat, you’d leave your heating on at a constant temperature all day and never switch it off. 

So, you might not save quite as much money as these companies claim. However, if you use the information your smart thermostat provides wisely, you could still make some great savings.

What to look for in a smart thermostat

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So, what makes smart thermostats ‘smart’? The best smart thermostats come with some nifty features to make your heating system smarter than ever. 

Every smart thermostat allows you to control your heating remotely. Whether you’re out at work or lying in your bed, a tap of a button can seamlessly control your home’s temperature.

However, there are even more handy features that you should look for when choosing the best smart thermostat for your home...

Compatibility with current smart devices

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Most smart thermostats work with other smart devices such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, Alexa (Amazon Echo) and Cortana.

Before picking a smart thermostat, make sure that it’s compatible with any other devices you currently own. You’ll feel very connected when asking Alexa to change your heating whilst not getting up from the sofa!

Hot water control

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Some smart thermostats will be able to control your hot water, not just your central heating. 

If you’ve turned off your hot water when on holiday, you can switch it back on remotely before you get home. You can then have a nice warm shower the second you walk in. 

You can also set up a schedule so you won’t have to brave a cold shower if you ever forget to turn on the hot water.

Multi-room/zonal heating

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If your smart thermostat offers multi-room or zonal control, you’ll be able to heat different rooms in your home independently. 

If you want to use this feature, you’ll have to buy additional smart radiator valves to set each radiator at a different temperature remotely. 

These extra thermostats aren’t cheap and can be around £70 each. So, if you have a small home, this feature isn’t necessary. However, if you live in a large home, you might want to turn off the heating in the bedrooms but keep the living room and bathroom warm. 

Geofencing

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Most smart thermostats create a ‘geofence’ around your property. This means that it detects when you and your smartphone leave the house. If your heating is still on, your smart thermostat will either automatically turn off your heating or send a reminder for you to do it remotely.

Learning

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Some smart thermostats aim to learn your routine so it can turn on your heating automatically. It’ll also know what temperature you usually like your home at certain times of the day.

This means that you won’t need to schedule your heating. However, smart learning can remove a level of control and you can switch it off whenever you want.

Weather-responsive

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Many smart thermostats can detect the weather and temperature outside. It can then adjust the internal temperature of your home accordingly. 

If the sun is about to come out, your smart thermostat can detect this and change the temperature inside. 

Motion sensors and GPS tracking

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The purpose of motion sensors and tracking is to detect when you enter and leave your home, adjusting the temperature accordingly.

When you leave, your heating will be turned down. When you are on the way home, your smart thermostat will automatically preheat your home. 

Sensors and tracking are great if you don’t have a routine and are often in and out of your home. This means that you won’t have to keep remembering to adjust the heating.

Other features

Some other features that you should look out for when comparing smart thermostats are:

  • Draught-detection - if you’ve left a window open in your home, your smart thermostat can notify your phone, to make sure that you aren’t wasting heat.
  • Prevent freezing pipes - most smart thermostats have a holiday mode that will make sure your pipes don’t freeze by heating at very low temperatures.
  • Monthly feedback - smart thermostats can send you monthly feedback on your heating habits. It includes data such as how many hours you’ve heated your home in comparison to other months. It’s a great reminder to cut back and save energy.

Best smart thermostats in the UK

There’s a wide range of different smart thermostats available from multiple manufacturers, with a variety of extra features and price points.

We’ve picked four of the best smart thermostats in the UK. These four are a mixture of affordable and more expensive options, with a variety of different features.

Hive Active Heating - British Gas

British Gas offers a brand of smart thermostats called Hive. They claim that their smart thermostat can shave up to £120 off your annual energy bill.

Hive Active Heating costs £249 with a professional installation. Or, £199.20 for British Gas Rewards customers.

If you don’t want professional installation it’ll cost £179 or £143.20 for British Gas customers.

What’s included:

  • Hive smart thermostat.
  • Hive hub.
  • Receiver.
  • Batteries.
  • Installation guide.

Features:

  • Geolocation - if you leave home with the heating still on, Hive will remind you to switch it off when you’re out. 
  • Multizone - turn the heating on and off in certain rooms.
  • Time slots - set up time slots to fit your schedule so Hive heating works to your routine.
  • App control - download the Hive app on your smartphone or tablet to access all these features.
  • Hive radiator valves - control every room in your house separately with the Hive radiator valves.

Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest is a Google-owned company and is one of the most popular smart thermostat brands. The Nest Learning Thermostat is Google’s third generation of smart thermostats, it learns your routines and adjusts accordingly. 

The Nest Learning Thermostat will set you back around £219.

What’s included: 

  • Display and base.
  • Heat Link heating controller.
  • Screws and an optional trim plate.
  • User guide and warranty. 

Features:

  • Smart schedule - Nest learns the more you use it and will schedule the heating to your routine.
  • Geolocation - if you leave home with the heating on, Nest will know you’re out and turn down the heating.
  • Nest Leaf - this notifies you when you’ve turned down the heating enough to start saving money.
  • Sensors - multiple sensors track the temperature, humidity, and whether anyone’s home.
  • Multi-zone - control up to 20 thermostats and control three Nest homes from your account.
  • Hot water control - control your hot water tank using the Nest app. 

Tado Smart Thermostat

The Tado Smart Thermostat is compatible with the largest number of heating systems in comparison to most smart thermostats. 

The Tado smart thermostat starter kit V3 costs £168.95 which you can install yourself. However, if you’d like a professional installation that will cost an extra £90.

What’s included:

  • Wireless temperature sensor.
  • Wireless receiver.
  • Internet Bridge.
  • batteries.
  • Cables, plugs and screws.
  • Insulators.
  • Terminal connectors.

Features:

  • Climate assistant - the Tado climate assistant provides features such as weather adaptation and open window detection.
  • Multi-room control - control heating in specific rooms.
  • Smart schedule - Tado creates a heating and hot water schedule based on your habits.
  • Healthier air - The Air Comfort Skill tells you how to keep the air in your home healthy.

Honeywell evohome

The goal of Honeywell evohome is to give you complete control over your home’s heating. Individual thermostats for each radiator allows you to independently heat each room in your house. This saves money on unnecessary rooms being warm.

The Honeywell Home evohome Connected Thermostat Pack costs £218.99.

What’s included:

  • Honeywell Home evohome Wi-Fi connected controller.
  • White fascia.
  • Tabletop stand.
  • Plug-in power supply.
  • Wireless relay box.
  • Installation and user guide.

Features:

  • Zoning - set up to 12 individual heating zones in your home, keeping rooms at different temperatures.
  • Smart features - lower temperatures in individual rooms, create a weekly schedule for each room and more.
  • Flexible control - control your system manually, via the app, web browser or even with voice assistants.
  • Hot water control - control your hot water tank.

Are smart thermostats worth it?

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Smart thermostats are worth it if you’re tech-savvy, have a compatible boiler and other smart devices. You’ll only save money if you use all the smart features and make a conscious effort to control your heating more efficiently.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of smart thermostats.

Pros

  • Complete heating control - if you’re miles away from home and need to adjust your heating, you can at a tap of a smartphone. Or, if you’re in bed freezing, you can just use the app on your phone, no need to get up and adjust a fixed thermostat.
  • Efficient energy - with more control and insight into your heating usage, you’ll be able to cut back and make more informed decisions. You can adjust your behaviour to make savings on your bills.
  • Save money - smart thermostats claim to save you hundreds of pounds a year thanks to the control and efficiency they offer.
  • Customised heating - you can set schedules or your smart thermostat can learn your schedule. This way, you won’t have to worry about your heating adjusting, it’ll take care of itself. 
  • Peace of mind - if you walk out of your house and leave the heating on, your smart thermostat will either turn it off for you or remind you to do so. This worry-free system saves you money without you having to lift a finger.
  • Smart features - smart thermostats are, you guessed it, smart! This means that all of the features are designed to be smart about money and energy. It’ll suggest ways to save energy and even detect when it’s warm outside, adjusting your thermostat as a result.

Cons

  • Your home needs to be empty - if someone is always home, the need for a smart thermostat decreases. Smart thermostats are most efficient at noticing when the house is empty and scheduling the heating. Your home should be empty for a period of time most days to make a smart thermostat worth it.
  • Compatibility - not all heating systems are compatible with smart thermostats.
  • Cost and installation - smart thermostats aren’t cheap, especially if you also need to pay for a professional installation. Only get a smart thermostat if you know you’ll save money. 
  • You need to be tech-savvy - if you struggle using smartphones and computers, then a smart thermostat might not be for you. The majority of the control is via an app or computer. You’ll need to enjoy using technology to benefit the most. 

How to install a smart thermostat

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You can install your smart thermostat yourself without the need for a professional. However, you need to be confident in doing so and understand how your system is wired. 

Here is a basic step-by-step guide on how to install a smart thermostat. Always double-check the installation instructions that come with your smart thermostat before attempting to install it yourself. 

If you’re unsure, consider a professional installation.

Step 1: Turn off the power

ALWAYS remember to turn off the power before doing any job that involves electricity. 

Step 2: Open your old thermostat

Take the front face of your current thermostat off, you might need to unscrew it first.

Step 3: Label the wires

This is an important step. You must label all of the wires in your old thermostat. Most smart thermostats will come with pre-printed labels for you to use. Most thermostats only have four wires but if there’s more, label them all. You can take a picture too. 

Step 4: Remove the old thermostat

You can now unscrew your old thermostat and carefully remove it from the wall. Remember not to take the wires off with it!

Step 5: Install the smart thermostat

Mark the wall using a leveller to make sure that you’re installing it in the right location. Position the plastic casing that goes around the smart device and hang it on the markings.

Step 6: Attach the wires to your smart thermostat

Match each labelled wire to the labelled terminal on your smart thermostat and connect them. You can then gently pull each wire to make sure that they are secured.

Step 7: Turn the electricity back on

You can now turn the electricity back on and check whether a start-up screen appears on your smart thermostat. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to turn off the power again and check the wires.

If you can’t figure out the problem, contact the manufacturer.

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