Nearly half of the typical American household’s annual utility bill is for air conditioning and heating, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. To help alleviate that cost, your home should be equipped with a smart thermostat. Right now, the most advanced smart thermostats that don’t just simply rely on a schedule to turn your home’s HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system on and off. You can program them with more sophisticated schedules and remotely control them even when you’re not at home. A couple of budget-friendly smart thermostats are the Emerson Sensi and the Honeywell Home, both of which are available on Amazon at awesome discounted prices.
The battery-powered Emerson Sensi thermostat can deftly handle the basics of smart HVAC system control. It runs on two AA batteries, unlike other thermostats that require a separate power line. The Sensi is compatible with the HVAC equipment already found in most homes, including heat pumps and most 24-volt systems.
This thermostat connects wirelessly to a home Wi-Fi network, allowing it to be controlled and programmed using an iOS or Android device. Installing the Sensi is very easy. Just follow the instructions on the mobile app and you will be able to do it in 30 minutes or less. Once configured, you can remotely access your home’s HVAC system through the app. Turn the air conditioning on while you’re on the road, an hour before arriving home. The Sensi also works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Wink smart home platforms.
Its monochrome screen is pretty bare-bones and only shows battery level, temperature, time, and Wi-Fi connection. It doesn’t compare with the flashy interface of other high-end smart thermostats like those offered by Nest and Ecobee. The Sensi does feature Smart Alerts that notify you when it detects extreme temperature and humidity levels in your home and provides emailed usage reports each month.
This no-nonsense piece of equipment covers all the essential smart HVAC controls and comes at a great price. Get it for only $96 on Amazon, $34 less than its normal retail price of $130.
Something a bit pricier but decidedly more feature-packed is the Honeywell Home, a reliable and relatively easy-to-install touchscreen thermostat. Everything you need to get the unit up and running is already found in the package. Besides the thermostat, you also get a wall plate, screws and anchors, wire labels, and a user guide and quick start guide. Just like the Sensi, this smart thermostat takes roughly 30 minutes to install, but you need to have a C wire available.
The touchscreen is in full color, and there are several different themes to choose from, giving this thermostat a more expensive and high-tech feel. It isn’t the most responsive though, and sometimes you would need to keep pressing in order to initiate a command. Still, this is infinitely more attractive compared to the Sensi. Besides, you can just use the mobile app or connect it with a smart home platform like Alexa, Google Home, and Smartthings to control it.
The main screen shows you the indoor temperature and indoor humidity level, the temperature and humidity level outside, the time, and the temperature at which your thermostat is set. Tapping the Weather option will display today’s weather forecast. You can also check the status of your heating and cooling equipment and set up a schedule through the panel. A technology called the Smart Response Learning allows the thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature of your home for maximum comfort. And on the Honeywell Total Connect Comfort app, you can receive smart alerts like air filter change reminders, humidifier pad replacement reminders, high/low-temperature warnings, and the status of your internet connection.
But the real question is, does it really help conserve energy? We’re happy to report that yes, it does. During our six-month test, there was a significant 15% drop in our kWh (kilowatt-hour) consumption. The Honeywell Home Smart Color thermostat usually comes with a $199 price tag, but with Amazon’s cool $41 discount, you can get it for $158. And if you pay via the Amazon Rewards Visa Card and it gets approved, you’ll get an additional $50 off instantly, bringing its price down to $108.
Both the Emerson Sensi and the Honeywell Home are solid and reliable smart thermostats that are guaranteed to help you save money. If you’re OK with a monochrome panel that does its job well, get the Emerson Sensi. But for something flashier with plenty more smart features, opt for the Honeywell Home for $62 more.
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