Should I invest in a smart thermostat? These tech experts help us decide

A smart thermostat can help you cut down on your energy bills, but do the savings outweigh the initial cost? With the help of some tech experts, we take a deep dive

A white panelled wall with a white smart thermostat fixed to it
(Image credit: Amazon)

With energy bills on the up, finding the best smart thermostat for your home could be the key to cutting costs this winter, but are they worth the investment? This clever piece of tech doesn't always come cheap, and with a plethora of brands claiming to be the greatest on the market, the sheer choice can be overwhelming. 

That said, the prospect of a thermostat that automatically regulates your home's temperature, even while you're out of the house, is pretty tempting. None of us enjoy coming home to a freezing cold house after a long day, but that's where the best smart thermostats come in handy. No more need to manually turn up the heating or fiddle around with timers; these game-changing gadgets cut out the hard work and help you save money in the process.

But how can you be sure they're not just an unnecessary expense, especially in such trying times? Fortunately, these tech and heating experts are on hand to help you decide whether they're worth the investment. Below, we look at how much a smart thermostat costs, how much it can save you, and some useful insights on the different options available. 

Lilith headshot for bio
Lilith Hudson

Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. She's committed to sharing articles that help readers make the best choices for their homes, including when it comes to smart technology. For this piece, she spoke with tech experts to learn whether a smart thermostat is worth the investment, and just how much money one could save you. 

 What is a smart thermostat? 

Some of you might be sitting there wondering what a smart thermostat is in the first place. Essentially, a smart thermostat is a piece of smart home tech for a more energy-efficient automated home

These Wi-Fi-enabled devices automatically adjust the temperature settings within the home by learning your daily routine and then creating heating and cooling schedules accordingly. They're easy to use, make your home more energy efficient, and can even be controlled from your smartphone.

How much money could you save on your energy bills?

WundaSmart thermostat on a bedroom wall above as bedside table

(Image credit: WundaSmart)

So now we've established what they are, the big question remains - are smart thermostats worth it?  

In most cases, these devices will end up paying for themselves over time as they help you to reduce bills. 'By learning your heating and cooling habits, a smart thermostat can adjust your temperature settings to minimize energy usage, which can lead to significant savings over time - in some cases, up to 30% on your energy bill,' explains Adam Roper, blogging expert in renewable energy, sustainability and off-grid living.

Google Nest estimated this would result in an average saving of $131 to $145 a year. However, it's important to note that the amount of money you save will depend on a few factors, including the type of smart thermostat you choose, the size of your home, and the climate you live in. 'For example, if you live in a warmer climate, you'll likely see greater savings because your air conditioner will run less often,' says James Calderon, tech expert, and Editor of Alrigh

If you have a modern gas boiler, Adam Chapman, heating expert and founder of Heat Geek, says you ought to look for a modulating smart thermostat if you're looking to save as much as possible on your gas bill. 'Most smart thermostats are just on/off, which means they send a 'fire' or 'don't fire' signal to the boiler,' he says. 'A modulating stat will instead tell a compatible boiler what flow temperature to fire to, which can help you to save more money.' 

If you purchase one of these modulating varieties, you should be aware that they need wiring in a different way, which is likely to come with added installation costs. 

How much does a smart thermostat cost?

best smart thermostat Google Nest Learning Wi-Fi Thermostat

(Image credit: Google)

We're sure none of you are likely to turn down an opportunity to cut your energy bills, especially in our unpredictable climate, but how much will a smart heating system like this cost you?

Like anything on the market, the cost of a smart thermostat varies hugely depending on how advanced the model is. For a good all-rounder with a reasonable price tag, we think Amazon's smart thermostat, available here on Amazon, is a fantastic choice. ENERGY STAR certified, and with DIY installation and voice-activated control from Alexa, it comes in at $59.99. 

The Google Nest was the pioneer of the smart thermostat world, so, understandably, their models have some pretty advanced functions. The Google Nest learning thermostat, also available at Amazon, is top of the range option coming in at $249. There's no need to program this small little stat - with its auto-schedule software, it programs itself by learning from your habits.

If you're on a tighter budget, the Honeywell Lyric T5 Smart Thermostat, here on Amazon, is another sound choice. 'One of the best things about the Honeywell Lyric T5 is that it's compatible with a variety of smart home devices and platforms, including Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and more,' says James. 'That means you can control it with your voice, with your smartphone, or with a variety of other devices.' At $125, it's a great value option, although its design is a little less sleek. 

For the price you pay to purchase a smart thermostat, the chances are it will have paid for itself in a year's time (or two, tops!). Practically speaking, we think they're certainly worth the investment, and not only will they help you save money, but they'll benefit the planet, too.

Which smart thermostat should I buy? 

WundaSmart thermostat on a green wall with vases on a cabinet

(Image credit: WundaSmart)

Before investing in a smart thermostat, it's important to do your research to find the best option for your home. The type of heating system you have, your current lifestyle, and the size of your home are all important factors to bear in mind.

'You should also consider which features of a smart thermostat are most important to you, such as ease of use, compatibility with your HVAC system, and cost,' says Adam R. 

We love the low price and sleek design of the Amazon smart thermostat, but the Nest is probably the most hi-tech and user-friendly option on the market. For a more detailed look at the Nest compared with other leading smart thermostat brands, Ecobee, take a look at our review of the Ecobee vs Nest thermostats to help you decide which is right for you. 

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.