Does your home get too hot in the summer, even as your utility bill continues to climb each year? You may want to consider a “smart thermostat,” the next evolution in heating and air-conditioning technology. These systems can keep homes climate-controlled while making energy use more efficient.
We reviewed two of the top-selling smart thermostats on the market. Both the Nest and Ecobee models fared well in terms of cost, energy efficiency, appearance, connectivity, and voice assistance, and more. However, one product had the edge in the critical areas of voice assistance and sensor technology.
Both the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Ecobee 4 cost $249 retail initially, although sometimes you can find deals on each. Ecobee dropped the retail price on the Ecobee 4 to $199 on its website. You can also typically buy afor around $225 on Amazon. However, because the , it edges out Nest in terms of price.
Winner: Ecobee 4
One of the primary reasons many people choose smart thermostats is because they want to cut down on utility bill costs. Although both models mentioned here can help you reach your energy goals, the Nest approach is a little more user-friendly.
When you adjust the temperature in a way that will result in energy savings, a leaf icon appears on the thermostat. Using the Nest Thermostat for heating and setting it to 62 degrees or below will always get you the leaf, as will using the gadget to cool your home and setting the thermostat to 84 degrees or warmer.
As the Nest Learning Thermostat gets smarter and learns the household’s preferences over time, you’ll see the leaf icon show up on the display whenever you choose temperature settings that save energy based on your preferences and habits.
The leaf icon doesn’t provide more information besides the icon cue, but Nest’s support documentation about the feature indicates it will challenge people to set the thermostat higher or lower than usual. Making one-degree tweaks could save up to 5% on energy bills.
You might also like to know that the Ecobee4 is solely a hard-wired smart thermostat, whereas the Nest Learning Thermostat can operate off of either a home’s electricity or batteries in the event of a power outage.
If a person lives in an area characterized by severe weather that often causes power outages, the choice of two power sources in the Nest product could be advantageous. That additional option, combined with its smart energy-saving feature, makes Nest the winner here.
Winner: Nest Learning Thermostat
Both thermostats have rounded shapes. However, while the Nest Learning thermostat is perfectly round, the Ecobee4 is a bit more squared.
You can buy the Nest Learning Thermostat in stainless steel, polished steel, black, mirror black, white, brass, or copper. The Nest Learning Thermostat also has a far sight feature, and it lights up when it spots you across the room
The Ecobee4 has a black front piece with a blue strip at the top, and it doesn’t have color options available like Nest.
Winner: Nest Learning Thermostat
A look at the specifics of each device reveals that although they look similar, there are slight differences in how to make temperature adjustments.
The Nest device uses a dial mechanism courtesy of an exterior ring that you turn manually to change the temperature. If you prefer the same temperature-adjustment technique used for conventional thermostats, the Nest Learning Thermostat is a good choice.
The Ecobee4 utilizes a touchscreen. For those already accustomed to touchscreens on their smartphones, tablets, and home appliances such as ovens, using the Ecobee4 to alter the temperature is a natural extension of those activities.
When people invest in an Ecobee4, they can also purchase wireless room sensors. These accessories detect occupancy and adjust room temperatures automatically. Each Ecobee4 also comes with one sensor.
You can also choose to average the temperatures of selected rooms with sensors regardless of the presence of people with the Ecobee4. Convenience is one of the primary advantages of having a smart home, and this smart thermostat certainly delivers it.
Concerning the Nest Learning Thermostat, you can buy Nest Temperature Sensors separately. They require you to specify the desired temperature in a room at a particular time of the day, then the Nest responds to that input, making it a must-have accessory for large smart homes. Users can prioritize different rooms as needed. However, Nest’s technology doesn’t have the occupant-sensing feature of the Ecobee4.
Compatibility with other home energy devices
Both devices connect with several energy devices for easier use.
The Ecobee4 recognizes when a home has a ventilator and uses cool outdoor temperatures when appropriate to reduce dependence on your home’s air conditioner. In homes with dehumidifiers, the Ecobee4 can regulate indoor humidity to prevent frost buildup in colder weather coupled with high-humidity indoor environments.
Conversely, Nest offers a feature that’s beneficial in homes with heat pumps and auxiliary heat. Known as Heat Pump Balance, it allows you to choose how much auxiliary heat to use, which is handy since such heating options can be expensive.
The Nest thermostat also figures the heat pump’s efficiency, the current weather, and weather forecast into the mix with the Heat Pump Balance feature activated, relying on data to determine the best auxiliary heat usage.
Voice assistant connectivity
Both the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Ecobee4 work with Google Assistant or Alexa, albeit in slightly different ways.
When using an Amazon Alexa device, individuals can control their Nest thermostats either via the Alexa app or by speaking, meaning that you can ask Alexa to turn the heat up or down.
In contrast, the Ecobee4 has built-in Alexa Voice Service. This means it understands voice cues like Alexa does and features more capabilities than those related to room temperature. For example, a person can use the Ecobee4 to hear music, set timers, and more — all by using Alexa commands.
Both the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Ecobee4 are also compatible with Google Home devices. You can talk adjust your Nest thermostat or Ecobee4 temperature by saying, “Ok Google, change the temperature to 71 degrees.” Similarly, you can also give commands like, “OK, Google, make my home warmer.”
Someone who doesn’t have an Alexa-enabled speaker yet might want to kill two birds with one stone and choose the Ecobee4, but anyone with a Google Home device should find both thermostats equally usable.
What’s the verdict?
Both of these thermostats offer a wealth of features and cost the same amount. However, for most users, the Ecobee4 is the better choice of the two. This is mostly due to the built-in Alexa capability, as well as the occupant-detecting feature of its room sensors. For more details, check out our full review of the Ecobee4.
Regardless of the opinion expressed here, it’s always best to carefully weigh the pros and cons of any smart home device. Doing so increases the likelihood of a satisfying purchase — and a home with a comfortable temperature.
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