Best smart thermostat 2018: save money yet stay warm

The best thermostats and smart radiator valves from Nest, Hive, Netatmo and more

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The thermostat was one of the first home devices to go smart and today there are a host of smart thermostats out there to pick from – and we're about to tell you which are the best smart thermostats.

That's because this is T3's expertly curate best smart thermostat guide for 2018, a resource in which we detail the easiest to operate and the most effective smart thermostats on the market today.

These smart thermostats can be operated from your phone or computer, learn the temperature settings you like applying and when, and work in tandem with other bits of smart home kit.

We've also included  a little advise as well in what to look out for when buying a smart thermostat, which will hopefully help you in finding the perfect system for you. Read on for our picks of the best smart thermostats you can get today.

How to buy the best smart thermostat for you

You don't have a host of specs to sift through with smart thermostats – they all work more or less in the same way – but compatibility with other smart home kit is one consideration to bear in mind. If you already have a few smart home devices installed, prioritise a thermostat that can work with them.

It's also worth checking with your energy company to see if any deals are on the table. They might discount the price of certain smart thermostats, or maybe even give you one for free – check online for the latest deals.

Apart from that, you want a smart thermostat that's as smart as possible in terms of how quickly it can adapt to your home's routine and how much cash it can save you by intelligently setting temperatures at certain times of day. The quality of the app and the underlying platform can go a long way to helping here.

Our pick of the best smart thermostats

Tado Smart Thermostat Best smart thermostat

The Tado Smart Thermostat is the, overall, best smart thermostat on the market.

1. Tado Smart Thermostat

Minimalist, effcient and easy to use

Specifications
Display: 32x20mm LED matrix display, comprising 10x19 LEDs
Sensors: Temperature; Humidity; Ambient Light
Connectivity: 868MHz, Mesh (6LoWPAN)
Compatibility: Worcester, Baxi, Vaillant, Potterton, Ideal... ; Supports both 230V and extra low voltage interfaces (digital bus/analogue); Combi, system and heat-only boilers; Conventional and condensing boilers; Common Y-, S- and W-plan setups; Relay compatible, both switched live systems and potential free (dry contact) systems; Compatible with the UK standard backplate; Hydronic underfloor systems; Electric underfloor systems with a maximum switching current of 6A; Air source and ground source heat pumps (heating only); Zoned systems (one Smart Thermostat per zone)
Colours: White
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use thermostat and app+Geofencing capability+Works with 95% of central heating systems+Valves have a display too
Reasons to avoid
-Less aesthetically pleasing than Hive and Nest

The Tado Smart Thermostat connects to a wider range of heating systems than most – it works with 95% of the systems out there, apparently, whether a combi or conventional boiler, or an electric under-floor setup, and it can also control your hot water. As with most smart thermostats, installation is best carried out by a qualified engineer.

The Tado is  smart enough to learn the layout of your home and the heat capacity of your house, so if you want it to be 18 degrees at 7am, it'll fire up in advance if needed to hit the target. Arguably the real killer feature is Tado's use of geofencing, though: by tracking the proximity of your mobile, when it detects you're on the way home, it can turn up the heat so it's toasty on your return.

The app is programmable, like a normal thermostat, and can be manually overridden when required. It also displays all kinds of information about your energy use, although the key money-saving stats are dependent on your input, (a bit like a calorie-tracking fitness band). Tado also works with Alexa and Siri, which is great.

As well as the £199 unit price, there are other extras to consider (including an Extension Kit if your current system has no wired room thermostat). Tado now does a range of smart radiator valves too, that can be used with or without the thermostat. These are preferable to rivals from Eve and Wiser (they're more compact, with a little screen to display the current temperature).

Nest Learning Thermostat Best smart thermostat

The Nest Learning Thermostat looks fantastic, and is without doubt one of the best smart thermostats going.

2. Nest Learning Thermostat

Smart, easy-to-use, and surprisingly sexy

Specifications
Display: 5.3cm, 480x480, 229ppi LCD
Sensors: Temperature, Humidity, Near-field activity, Far-field activity, Ambient light
Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz); 802.15.4 (2.4GHz); Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
Compatibility: Combi boilers; System and heat-only boilers; Domestic hot water tanks; Hydronic underfloor systems; Air-source and ground-source heat pumps (heating only); Zoned systems (one Nest Thermostat per zone); Heating systems with OpenTherm technology
Colours: Stainless Steel; Copper; Black; White
Reasons to buy
+Third-generation model+Easy to use+Learns as you go+Can be controlled from your tablet or smartphone+Cost includes expert installation
Reasons to avoid
-There are cheaper alternatives

Nest takes Apple-like care in its product design (it was founded by ex-Apple employees), and it's definitely one of the better-looking smart thermostats out there. In fact the Nest is largely responsible for kickstarting this whole smart home category (see some of the other competitors lower down).

This 3rd-generation Nest Learning Thermostat is able to monitors your habits and control the heating accordingly. So, for instance, if regularly go to bed at 11pm or so, the system learns from that and starts turning the system off around that time. Before long you're saving money and you don't even have to touch the Nest.

Another smart feature the Nest brings to the party is an on-board activity sensor that can take an educated guess as to whether anyone is at home or not, and then adjust the heating schedule accordingly. If you want to take more manual control, over when the heating starts and stops, then the Nest is easy to schedule using the accompanying app.

That circular glass interface is beautiful to behold and so incredibly simple use – all you require is an opposable thumb and a forefinger. While the Nest Learning Thermostat comes with everything you need to fit it, we'd say you're better off having an engineer do it, especially as the £279 price includes installation. With Google Home and Amazon Echo integration adding voice control, it's our hot pick.

Hive Heating Control Best smart thermostat

The Hive Heating Control is an expandable system, with a range of plugs and sensors available.

3. Hive Heating Control

Smart, stylish and expandable, this is one of the best smart thermostats on the market

Specifications
Display: 100 mm x 104 mm
Sensors: Temperature
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Zigbee
Compatibility: Most gas, LPG, oil and electric boilers
Colours: 12+ frames sold separately
Reasons to buy
+App and thermostat are easy to use+Modern, minimalist design+Extensible with Hive smart home products+You don't have to be a British Gas customer to buy it
Reasons to avoid
-Not as good-looking as the Nest

Hive is developed by British Gas, but you don't have to be a British Gas customer to use it. This excellent system is fitted by a qualified engineer, and includes a boiler receiver, an internet router hub, and a wall-mounted thermostat – which may not be quite as handsome as the Nest, but which is still easy on the eye.

Perhaps more importantly, the whole system is ridiculously easy to use, whether you're operating the console itself or using the accompanying apps for iOS or Android. You can change the temperature or thermostat schedule from anywhere, automatically set the heating to turn off when you leave the house, then have it automatically turn back on again when you come home.

This works via location tracking in the app and it's the same for all the members of the household, if they're all happy installing the app – it means the rest of your family won't suddenly be plunged into freezing temperatures just because you've popped to the shops, which is obviously something you want to avoid.

The system is expandable too: Hive has released a range of compatible products, including sensors and plugs, so all your devices will talk to each other – you have the option of paying outright or via subscription, which gives you ongoing user support too. As an added bonus, you get support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant with Hive too.

Ecobee4 Best smart thermostat

Ecobee4

4. Ecobee4

Comprehensive smart home heating

Specifications
Display: 109 mm x 109 mm
Sensors: Temperature, humidity
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Compatibility: Gas, electric, oil, dual fuel
Colours: Black
Reasons to buy
+Support for up to 32 sensors+Simple and easy to use+Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit compatible
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't learn over time

You can cover a lot of bases with the Ecobee4. It works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for a start, if you want to bark out your smart heating instructions to the nearest speaker, and it's compatible with Apple HomeKit and a variety of other third-party sensors too. It's going to fit in with most smart home setups.

The Ecobee4 is also capable of measuring the temperature at multiple different points around your home – you only get one sensor with the unit, but you can add up to 32 more if you live in an extensive stately home. That said, it doesn't have the intelligent learning built into the Nest, so you need to take more manual control over your thermostat.

As you would expect from a smart thermostat, everything can be controlled from the accompanying apps for Android or iOS, so you can sort out your heating while you're away from home (or tell your thermostat you're on holiday). Don't forget that built-in Alexa functionality gives you access to thousands of skills that go way beyond smart heating as well – from checking up on the weather to ordering a taxi.

It works with a bunch of other smart home stuff (including Samsung SmartThings), it's easy to configure and operate, and with support for so many sensors, it can keep an eye on your whole house. The Ecobee4 is a hard smart thermostat to beat.

Nest Thermostat E Best smart thermostat

Nest Thermostat E

5. Nest Thermostat E

A cheaper Nest option

Specifications
Display: 81 mm x 81 mm, 320 x 320 pixel 24-bit colour LCD
Sensors: Temperature, humidity, near-field activity, far-field activity, ambient light
Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz); 802.15.4 (2.4GHz); Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
Compatibility: Combi boilers; System and heat-only boilers; Domestic hot water tanks; Hydronic underfloor systems; Air-source and ground-source heat pumps (heating only); Zoned systems (one Nest Thermostat per zone); Heating systems with OpenTherm technology
Colours: white
Reasons to buy
+Smart Nest learning on board+Better value than the top-end Nest+Excellent mobile apps
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't like Apple or Samsung kit

The simple way to describe the Thermostat E is as a cheaper Nest – the screen isn't as bright or clear, the thermostat itself is made from cheaper materials, and you can't get as much information up on screen. Apart from that though, the thermostats are just the same, so it's not a bad trade-off for a cheaper model.

Nest's well-known learning algorithm works behind the scenes with the Thermostat E, so it will learn your heating habits over time, and should be able to save you some time setting the temperature manually. With temperature sensors dotted around the home, you can keep track of multiple spaces at once, too.

As you would expect, everything works perfectly with Google Assistant if you want to set your home's temperature by talking to a Google Home speaker, but there's Amazon Alexa compatibility here too. The notable exceptions in terms of compatibility are the HomeKit platform from Apple and the SmartThings platform from Samsung.

We like the smart energy reports that Nest thermostats email in every month, as well as the quality and polish of the accompanying apps available for Android and iOS. If the top-end Nest is a little pricey for you, this is a great second choice.

Netatmo Smart Thermostat Best smart thermostat

Netatmo Smart Thermostat

(Image: © Netatmo)

6. Netatmo Smart Thermostat

Affordable smart thermostat with a few limitations

Specifications
Display: E-Paper display
Sensors: Temperature
Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (2.4GHz)
Compatibility: Gas, oil, wood boilers and heat pumps (replaces existing wired and wireless thermostats)
Colours: Interchangeable, using 4 colour adhesives (supplied)
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use thermostat and app+Energy saving+Relatively affordable+Wireless operation
Reasons to avoid
-Old-fashioned E-Ink display-Design is nothing special-Less features than the Nest

Netatmo, the French company that revolutionised the home weather station, has employed the services of product designer and Frenchman Philippe Starck to create its take on the humble thermostat.

And here it is, a translucent plexiglass cube with a simple display. Given that it's designed by one of Europe's foremost creatives, the old-fashioned black e-Ink display and white casing feels a bit ordinary, especially alongside something like the Nest. But hey, looks aren't everything – Netatmo predicts its thermostat will save the average user about 37% in energy costs, so that's a definite bonus.

Again, everything here is controlled via the free Android and iOS apps and setup is a doddle. On initial installation, it'll ask you five simple questions and then create a schedule based on your lifestyle. Another very cool feature is that the thermostat itself can be installed in two ways: as a wired replacement for your current unit or wirelessly, using three AAA batteries.

The wireless option allows you to place the thermostat in any room which is handy if you use one room more than the other. If you still need convincing, the Netatmo is also one of the cheaper options here (though it's not as well equipped as some of its rivals), and it works with EDF Energy's HeatSmart (available for £199 including installation).

Honeywell Lyric T6/T6R Best smart thermostat

Honeywell Lyric T6/T6R

(Image: © Honeywell)

7. Honeywell Lyric T6/T6R

Easy-to-use smart thermostat – with limitations

Specifications
Display: not stated
Sensors: Temperature
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Compatibility: Heating systems with OpenTherm technology; Common Y- and S-plan setups
Colours: not stated
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Geofencing works well+Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa compatible
Reasons to avoid
-Needs professional installation-Limited programming options

Looking like a cross between the British Gas Hive and the Nest from Google, the Lyric T6 is the latest in a long line of smart connected devices from the highly-regarded Honeywell with wired (T6) and wireless table-top (T6R) versions available.

The Honeywell Lyric T6/T6R can be controlled either via its touchscreen or via the free Honeywell Lyric smartphone app, with built-in geofencing so the system automatically knows to switch on and off depending on how close you (or other members of your household) are to home. It also works with Amazon's Alexa and is Apple HomeKit ready.

As with other smart thermostats, the Honeywell Lyric T6 is best fitted by a professional installer, since the supplied box that connects to your boiler (or second zone) needs to be connected to the mains. Once installed and set up, however, the system is easy to use – although there are some limitations.

While you can use either geolocation or a range of programmable modes to configure the heating, you can't use both these options together – a shortcoming the Tado, for example, doesn't have. That said, we do like is the Lyric's Optimised Start mode, which automatically fires up the heating early so your home is already add the right temperature when you wake up – just the job for those cold winter mornings.

Heat Genius Best smart thermostat

Heat Genius

8. Heat Genius

The all-singing wireless system

Specifications
Display: not stated
Sensors: not stated
Connectivity: not stated
Compatibility: not stated
Colours: not stated
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use thermostat and app+Control your system from anywhere
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively expensive-Complex installation – not for DIYers-TRVs not included in Starter Kit-Uninspired design

Sexy it might not be, but if you want full heating control of individual rooms and budget isn't a concern, you might consider this all-singing wireless system. It goes above and beyond many other smart thermostats, though you'll have to pay for it.

The app-controlled Genius is more complex than the Nest, Hive or Tado so fitting it yourself isn't really an advisable option. The system comprises a Heat Genius controller that plugs into your Wi-Fi router, a boiler controller and a portable wireless thermostat that can be moved from room to room.

For full individual room control, Heat Genius also installs a TRV (thermostatic radiator valve) on each rad so you can create different schedules for different rooms. And if you fit the optional wireless motion sensor-cum-thermometer, the system will also detect whether you're in or out, and create its own set of schedules accordingly.

The Heat Genius system isn't cheap – the Genius Starter + Hot Water On/Off kit without radiator valves and room sensors costs £295 – but the claimed savings of as much as 50% a year in heating bills do make it tempting for well-off owners of larger homes. Definitely worth considering at the more premium end of the market.

Heatmiser Neo Best smart thermostat

Heatmiser Neo

9. Heatmiser Neo

HomeKit-compatible, but needs pro installation

Specifications
Display: Blue backlit screen
Sensors: Temperature; Air
Connectivity: Wireless Mesh Network (via neoHub)
Compatibility: not stated **Colours** Sapphire Black; Glacier White; Platinum Silver
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use smart thermostat and app+HomeKit compatible+Includes geofencing
Reasons to avoid
-Professional installation needed-Options list can be confusing

This intuitive zonal system is similar to the Heat Genius we mentioned above, only it's fully wired, which means a) installation should be carried out by a pro (like many other units here) and b) your walls will likely need to have conduits installed.

It's a much more baffling system to get one's head around, mind, since there's a bewildering assortment of different mix-and-match options available. In this respect you're advised to contact Heatmiser direct to discuss your needs. If you can make sense of the various combinations – and it is possible – this could be the solution for you.

A wireless version of the Heatmiser system (which we haven't had a look it) is  also available in kit form. Dubbed, the neoAir Kit Gen 2, it comprises a neoAir smart thermostat, a second-generation neoHub and an RF switch and is capable of being DIY installed. If you find the wired Heatmiser Neo a little overwhelming, consider the wireless alternative.

Both wired Neo and wireless NeoAir versions are Apple HomeKit compatible, so you can use them as part of your Apple-run smart home. The Heatmiser kit looks good, works well, and is flexible enough to be able to adapt to most home scenarios – just don't be afraid to ask for advice about which setup is best.

Climote Best smart thermostat

Climote

10. Climote

Versatile thermostat with easy controls

Specifications
Display: 145 mm x 127 mm
Sensors: not stated
Connectivity: not stated
Compatibility: not stated
Colours: White
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use thermostat and app+Can be controlled by text message (SMS)+Embedded SIM – no broadband connection required
Reasons to avoid
-Monthly subscription for remote access service

It might not have the modern looks of a Nest or a Tado but don't underestimate this system – unlike most app-controlled thermostat set ups, Climote can control three zones at once, straight out of the box. And it doesn't rely on a broadband connection either because, rather like the Kindle, a SIM card is embedded into the device which allows for communication over GPRS.

Furthermore, you can control the system remotely in three different ways, either using the iOS or Android app, via a web browser or – get this – from a bog-standard unsmart phone, via the magic of SMS. This remote access service does cost €3.69 (about £3.30) per month which could be a spoiler for some.

Installation by a Climote-endorsed engineer takes a purported 30 minutes and that's pretty nifty – in terms of the speed with which you can get set up and the minimal interface you have to put up with while you change over, the Climote is one of the better options in our list of smart thermostats.

Because the online and mobile apps mimic the old time clock fixed to your boiler – and the hub itself is basically a glorified timer – it's a good choice for those who don't want to go too far down the smart home line and would rather stick with something that's a little more familiar, with nice extras like the zones control.