We round up the best smart thermostats from brands such as Tado, Nest and Honeywell
Home heating is something you can’t live without – at least not in Britain – but it can be a pain to manage. Systems heat up and cool down at unpredictable speeds, and your home can easily end up swinging from too cold to too hot, and back again. And it’s all too easy to waste money by heating rooms you don’t go into or keeping the living room toasty while you’ve gone out for the day.
Invest in a smart thermostat and say goodbye to those problems. Today’s connected heating systems use smart scheduling to make sure your home is at its ideal temperature when you want it – and many of them can even control different rooms individually so you can ensure that the heat is directed where it’s needed.
They can also cut your bills by recognising when you’re out and automatically shutting off the heating – so, in a few years, a smart thermostat could easily pay for itself. The only question is: with so many systems to choose from, which should you go for? Here are our top six, along with a buyer’s guide to help you make the right choice.
How to choose the best smart thermostat for you
Whole-home or multi-room?
Before you even look at the various smart heating systems on offer, work out whether you need a simple whole-home thermostat or a more sophisticated multi-room system. The former turns all your radiators on or off at the same time, so it’s very simple to manage. If some parts of your home get hotter than others, you can manually tweak the thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) to adjust how much hot water flows into each radiator.
A multi-room system gives you much finer control: you can set a specific temperature target for each room and even create different heating schedules for different parts of your house. There’s more to configure, though, and each radiator you want to control will need to be fitted with a smart TRV, which can easily double the price of the whole system.
Does the smart thermostat require professional installation?
If your home doesn’t currently have a thermostat, you’ll probably need to engage a professional to fit your new smart device. But if you’re looking to replace an existing thermostat, you may be able to do it yourself. Choose a model such as the Tado that’s designed for self-installation and you could save a decent chunk of money. Be realistic, though: you’ll need to be competent working with electric cabling, and if you plan to fit smart TRVs then you’ll need some plumbing knowhow too.
How does it connect to the network?
Certain smart thermostats contain a Wi-Fi module that connects directly to your home network. Others come with a separate bridge that connects to your router via an Ethernet cable. This could be a problem if your router doesn’t have a spare socket: check before you buy or you might end up needing to install a cumbersome network switch just to run your thermostat.
Can the thermostat automatically detect when you’re out?
It’s wasteful to keep your home heated while you’re out so most smart thermostats try to work out automatically when the house is empty. Many take a geofencing approach, relying on a companion app running on your smartphone to report back your location. If you share your home with other people, however, you’ll need a multi-user system that can track everyone, or they’ll be left in the cold when you go out for the day. Some systems (such as the Nest Learning Thermostat) also feature a motion sensor, which can identify when someone’s moving around indoors and keep the heating on even when the primary user isn’t around.
Does the smart thermostat support voice controls and IFTTT?
Most smart thermostat systems integrate with some sort of voice-control system. This means you can, for example, temporarily dial up the warmth in a specific room without having to rummage around for your phone, or physically go and fiddle with the thermostat itself. Check that your chosen voice system is supported, though: most work with Amazon Alexa, but not all models work with Google Assistant or Siri.
A final thing to look out for is integration with the IFTTT automation service. While not exactly a must-have feature, this allows you to easily control your heating from afar or set certain events to trigger different heating modes.
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The best smart thermostats you can buy
1. Tado Smart Thermostat: The most flexible smart thermostat
Price: £120 | Buy now from Amazon
The Tado Smart Thermostat is a very flexible system. Assuming you already have a wired thermostat, you can switch to smart whole-home heating by simply installing the main Tado unit and the bridge that connects to your router. Later, you can add individual radiator controls to control your heat on a per-room basis.
Your heating schedule can be controlled from the smartphone app, and there’s also support for Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Siri, plus an IFTTT channel. There’s geolocation too, which automatically turns off the heating when no one’s home and turns it back on when you’re on your way back.
Tado’s isn’t the cheapest smart thermostat, but you don’t need to pay a professional to install it: it comes with detailed fitting instructions so you can do it yourself. In all, it’s the perfect system for anyone who’s just getting started with smart heating.
Key specs – Remote thermostat: Yes; Hot water support: Yes; Individual radiator control: Yes; Voice assistant support: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri; IFTTT: Yes; Warranty: 2yr RTB
2. Nest Thermostat E: The simplest smart thermostat to use
Price: £149 | Buy now from Amazon
Not only do the Nest Thermostat E control and the Heat Link E thermostat look good with their minimalist designs, but they’re incredibly easy to install – Google claims that the process will take most people under an hour. This straightforwardness continues into everyday use: you can change the temperature via the intuitive app or via your chosen voice assistant.
It can cleverly recognise when everybody has left the house, so you’re not heating empty rooms, as well as showing a leaf when you’re in energy-saving mode. We also like that the Thermostat E’s display switches on when you approach it and then off when you move away.
It certainly doesn’t have the bells and whistles of other thermostats on this list, but this is a cheap, cheerful and effective entry point into the world of smart heating.
Key specs – Remote thermostat: Yes; Hot water support: No; Individual radiator control: No; Voice assistant support: Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri; IFTTT: Yes; Warranty: 2yr RTB
3. Honeywell Evohome: The most comprehensive room-by-room heating system
Price: £250 | Buy now from Amazon
You can use the Evohome as a basic smart heater, but it really comes into its own when you partner it with a set of connected TRVs (£59 each) to give you room-by-room control of your heating. The touchscreen controller gives you a clear overview of every heating zone in your home, and adjustments can also be made from the smartphone app – or from the appropriate TRV, as each has its own screen and controls.
There’s no geofencing, sadly, so your heating doesn’t turn off the heating automatically when you go out (although you can use IFTTT to control it remotely). And while the Alexa skill works well, Google Home isn’t currently supported in the UK.
There’s also no denying that Evohome is expensive once you factor in the cost of TRVs. However, as you don’t have to heat the entire house, it could save you money in the long run. It’s a great system that really shows off the power of smart heating.
Key specs – Remote thermostat: Yes; Hot water support: Yes; Individual radiator control: Yes; Voice assistant support: Alexa; IFTTT: Yes; Warranty: 2yr RTB
4. Hive Thermostat Mini: The best Hive thermostat
Price: £119 | Buy now from Hive
The Hive Mini is much smaller, slimmer and more stylish than the regular Hive Thermostat and yet, aside from a couple of small restrictions, it does largely the same job. We found the system performed well overall, especially in conjunction with Hive’s smart radiator valves, and was easy to use.
It’s not, perhaps, the smartest of heating systems – it can’t adapt its schedule automatically or learn from your heating habits – but at a price of £59 for the thermostat on its own (£119 with the boiler receiver and Hive Hub), it’s one of the most affordable smart heating systems around.
Key specs – Remote thermostat: Yes; Hot water support: Yes; Individual radiator control: Yes (optional radiator valves); Voice assistant support: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri; IFTTT: Yes; Warranty: 1yr RTB
5. Drayton Wiser: A great-value multi-room heating system
Price: £146 | Buy now from Amazon
Drayton’s Wiser kits come in one-, two- or three-channel versions, meaning you can control multiple heat sources at once. For most homes the single-channel kit will be fine – and the price includes two radiator thermostats, with additional TRVs costing just £38 each.
Schedules are easily configured and controlled from the smartphone app, although you can also make adjustments from the main thermostat unit. The TRVs don’t have their own screens, but you can tweak them to temporarily raise or lower the temperature by 2ºC.
A clever Eco mode setting takes into account the thermal properties of your home so the heating isn’t on for any longer than it needs to be. There’s also an Away mode, which reduces the temperature when you’re out, and an Alexa skill that lets you control the heating in individual rooms using your voice. In all, it’s a clever system and you won’t find a multi-room heating solution for less.
Key specs – Remote thermostat: Yes; Hot water support: Yes (2 and 3-channel versions); Individual radiator control: Yes; Voice assistant support: Alexa; IFTTT: Yes; Warranty: 2yr RTB
6. Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation: The best smart thermostat for smaller homes
Price: £179 | Buy now from Amazon
The Nest comes in a range of attractive colours and it’s easy to use: the whole outer casing acts as a dial, giving you highly tactile control over temperature, schedules and other features. You can alternatively configure everything from the smartphone app – but you shouldn’t have to do much of this as the Nest is designed to learn your preferences and create a heating schedule automatically.
Another interesting feature is the built-in motion detector. The Nest uses this in combination with your phone’s location to determine when you’re out of the house. It also enables the Nest to flash up information as you walk past, such as a clock, temperature details or a weather forecast. As a final trick, the Nest Thermostat can integrate with a Nest Protect appliance, if you have one, to show alerts on its screen or automatically shut off the heating if carbon monoxide is detected – a thoughtful touch.
As Nest is owned by Google, it’s no surprise that the thermostat supports Google Assistant, as well as Amazon Alexa and IFTTT. Its one shortcoming is that it doesn’t support multi-room configurations – but if you just want a simple, centralised controller, the Nest is hard to beat.
Key specs – Remote thermostat: Yes; Hot water support: Yes; Individual radiator control: No; Voice assistant support: Alexa, Google Assistant; IFTTT: Yes; Warranty: 2yr RTB
7. Honeywell Lyric T6: The best-value smart thermostat
Price: £160 | Buy now from Amazon
If a full-on Evohome setup is a little bit beyond your needs (or your budget), Honeywell’s cheaper Lyric T6 comes in two versions. The standard T6 connects to existing thermostat wires; the T6R costs about £40 more and operates wirelessly.
Once it’s in place, the Lyric T6 connects to your home network via built-in Wi-Fi and is configured entirely from the smartphone app. To get started, you simply need to configure its three heating modes – Home, Away and Sleep – and set up multi-user geofencing, so the Lyric can automatically detect when no one’s home and shut off the heating. If you prefer, you can create a custom heating schedule you can but this disables geolocation.
Like other smart thermostats, the Lyric T6 learns the thermal properties of your home, so it knows how long it takes to warm up. There’s also a holiday function, meaning you can easily disable the heating until a specified date. And with support for Apple HomeKit, Alexa, Google Home and IFTTT, you’re not short of control options. While it can’t claim to be the most feature-packed thermostat out there, it’s great value.
Key specs – Remote thermostat: Yes; Hot water support: No; Individual radiator control: No; Voice assistant support: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri; IFTTT: Yes; Warranty: 2yr RTB