A good thermostat helps keep your home at a comfortable temperature year-round while being energy efficient and not requiring too much work.
"The most basic thing you should be looking for is a programmable thermostat, which means it has an energy-efficient setting," says Shilpa Anand, a senior product manager for smart thermostats at Resideo. "You can look for thermostats that are Energy Star rated as well."
We researched dozens of thermostats, weighing their design, controls, ease of use and installation, and programmable and smart features. Our best overall pick is the Google Nest Learning Thermostat, a feature-packed, energy-saving option that's also sleek and compatible with voice assistants.
Here are the best thermostats.
Google Nest Learning Thermostat
Sleek, modern design
Creates optimized schedule
Monitors system health
Nest Temperature Sensor sold separately
Like most Google Nest products, the Google Nest Learning Thermostat packs intuitive and easy-to-use features into a minimalist yet innovative design. We love its futuristic look, HVAC monitoring, and ability to learn your day-to-day habits and sense when you're away from home.
You can control this Energy-Star certified thermostat via the Google Nest app, which is straightforward and user-friendly. This thermostat is both Google Assistant and Alexa-compatible, a convenient feature for smart-speaker users who prefer to rely on voice commands. This thermostat will maintain the perfect temperature for you while you're home but will stop heating and cooling when you're away to save energy. A leaf icon will even appear on the display when your thermostat is at an energy-saving temperature. But while this thermostat may save you money in the long run, its initial purchase price will cost you more than the average thermostat.
This thermostat also monitors your home's heating and cooling systems and notifies you if anything isn't working correctly, and it tracks and creates reports of your energy usage. Like most thermostats, this model will read and react to the temperature in the area of your home where you place it. However, you can also pair this model with a Nest Temperature Sensor, which is great if you have a room in your home that runs cooler or hotter than the rest. You can place the paired sensor in the area with the temperature anomaly, and the thermostat will change the temperature according to that space's needs.
Price at time of publish: $249
Dimensions: 3.3 x 1.2 inches | Control Type: Dial or app | Power Source: Battery or hardwired | Program Mode: 24-hour
Honeywell Home RTH221B Programmable Thermostat
Precise temperature control
No backlight on display
You don’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a reliable thermostat. The Honeywell RTH221B Thermostat is an extremely budget-friendly option, yet it still offers programmability with up to four periods per day. It has a liquid-crystal display (LCD) with push-button controls, and the simple white design should be easy to blend into any room.
This model lacks a backlit display, so it can be more difficult to read in darker settings compared to other models. However, this thermostat allows you to schedule one program for the whole week, and it delivers precise temperature control of plus or minus 1 degree. It runs on batteries for DIY installation, and overall, it’s a simple, no-frills option that costs less than other models.
Price at time of publish: $27
Dimensions: 4.75 x 3.5 x 1 inches | Control Type: Push button | Power Source: Battery | Program Mode: 1-week
Honeywell Home RTH8560D 7-Day Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat
Multiple programming options
No C-wire necessary
Works with multiple HVAC systems
Programming may take some time to learn
Difficult to read without backlight
If you're interested in a user-friendly programmable thermostat without too many bells and whistles, the Honeywell Home RTH8560D 7-Day Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat is worth considering. This model's scheduling flexibility distinguishes it from the crowd, allowing you to set weekly or daily schedules in addition to separate programs for weekends and weekdays using 5-2 or 5-1-1 modes.
While it lacks Wi-Fi and app connectivity, this model offers plenty of smarts with the brand's Smart Response Technology. This feature learns when you want to heat and cool your home to meet your temperature needs according to your programming. This savvy programmable thermostat also has broad HVAC compatibility, including single- and multi-stage systems, and requires no C-wire to install.
Price at time of publish: $91
Dimensions: 4.09 x 4.09 x 1.06 inches | Control Type: Touchscreen | Power Source: Batteries or C-wire | Program Mode: 7-day, 5-2, 5-1-1
Best with Touchscreen
Honeywell Wi-Fi Color Touchscreen Thermostat
Ability to change screen color
Weather isn't always accurate
Poor customer service
If you like being able to control your home’s appliances from your smartphone, the Honeywell Wi-Fi Color Touchscreen Thermostat puts control right at your fingertips. This Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat syncs up to your phone via either the Total Connect Comfort app or Honeywell Home app, allowing you to control it from anywhere.
This thermostat offers flexible 7-day programming, and it has a bright touchscreen for simple adjustments. It displays the daily weather forecast right on the screen, and you can even use it to check outdoor and indoor humidity. However, the weather readings aren't always accurate. The Smart Color Thermostat is compatible with most popular voice assistants, such as Alexa, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana, and you can even change the color of its screen to match your decor.
Price at time of publish: $169
Dimensions: 3.5 x 4.5 x 0.88 inches | Control Type: Touchscreen or app | Power Source: Hardwired | Program Mode: 7-day
Best Remote Sensor
Ecobee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control
Includes remote sensor
Compatible with popular smart home systems
Able to control other smart devices
One of the downsides of most thermostats is that they can only sense one room's temperature. However, the Ecobee SmartThermostat solves this problem with the help of its SmartSensor. This separate device monitors the temperature in the room of your choice, helping to prevent hot or cold areas. The thermostat comes with one sensor, but you can add up to 32 throughout your home for optimal heating and cooling.
This thermostat is a pricier option, but it's Wi-Fi enabled, allowing you to control it from your smartphone, and it can even detect your presence, automatically reducing energy use when you're away. You can integrate this Ecobee thermostat with various smart home systems, including Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice assistants, and it can even help control accessories like humidifiers and dehumidifiers.
Price at time of publish: $220
Dimensions: 4.29 x 4.29 x 1 inches | Control Type: Touchscreen, app, voice | Power Source: Hardwired | Program Mode: 24-hour
Best Energy Efficient
Emerson Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat
Designed to save energy
Numerous smart features
Complicated to install with heat pump
You can save some serious money on your energy bills with the Emerson Sensi Touch Smart Thermostat. The brand claims its customers save an average of 23 percent on HVAC energy usage thanks to the thermostat's smart features. This Wi-Fi-enabled device can be controlled from your phone using the Sensi app. It uses flexible scheduling, remote access, and geofencing to create an energy-efficient schedule that suits your daily needs.
The Sensi Touch Thermostat is easy to install yourself, though it can be a tad more burdensome to install with a heat pump, and it works with smart assistants like Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and more. It creates daily energy usage reports in the app for viewing trends in your heating and cooling. You can even set temperature limits on it, preventing your family members from trying to sneakily turn it up when you're not looking.
Price at time of publish: $170
Dimensions: 3.4 x 5.63 x 1.17 inches | Control Type: Touchscreen or app | Power Source: Hardwired | Program Mode: 7-day
Emerson 1F86EZ-0251 Blue Easy Set Non-Programmable Thermostat
Color-coded push-connect terminals
Not compatible with multi-stage systems
If you tend not to use thermostat programming features, you can save some money with a model like the Emerson Blue Easy Set Non-Programmable Thermostat. It's a budget-friendly option for those with single-stage heating, cooling, and heat pump systems, and it lets you create preset settings for home, sleep, and away, which can be activated by buttons on the front of the device.
This thermostat doesn't look as sleek or modern as other models, but it has a bright digital display with a blue backlight and switches that let you toggle between heating and cooling as needed. It offers precise control over your home's temperature, keeping it within plus or minus 1 degree, and it has a permanent memory backup in case of power loss.
Price at time of publish: $52
Dimensions: 4.75 x 3.8 x 1.5 inches | Control Type: Push button | Power Source: Battery or hardwired | Program Mode: Not applicable
Orbit 83521 Clear Comfort Pro 7-Day Programmable Thermostat
Incompatible with multi-stage systems
Batteries not included
The Orbit Clear Comfort Pro is an excellent thermostat option if a readable digital display is high on your wish list. This battery-operated, programmable thermostat features a large, approximately 3.5-inch-by-1.5-inch LCD that's more legible at a distance compared to many other models. The display also has pleasing blue backlighting that makes reading the large temperature, time, and mode readouts easier.
In addition to a large, easy-to-read display, the Clear Comfort Pro allows unique daily scheduling and up to four temperature changes throughout the day. If you don't need a different daily schedule, the thermostat's copying feature allows you to carry over a program to one or several days. While the Clear Comfort Pro lacks compatibility with multi-stage systems, it works with other systems, such as central air conditioning and heating, gas, and oil and electric furnaces.
Price at time of publish: $55
Dimensions: 5.38 x 1.25 x 3.25 inches | Control Type: Push buttons | Power Source: Batteries | Program Mode: 7-day
Best for Electric Baseboards
Aube by Honeywell Home TH106 Electric Heating 7-Day Programmable Thermostat
Clean, modern look
Works with 120- and 240-volt systems
Early start feature
If you're considering a thermostat upgrade for your electric baseboards, Aube TH106 Electric Heating 7-Day Programmable Thermostat is an attractive and effective option. This model is compatible with 120- and 240-volt systems and features a clean, minimalist white design. While this thermostat has a small digital display that lacks backlighting, seven-day scheduling is intuitive and flexible via push buttons hidden under a panel.
Another favorable tradeoff for backlighting is the memory function. Despite not operating on a battery, this thermostat remembers your programmed settings and preserves them if the power goes out—restoring them within four hours. This Aube model also has an early start feature that ensures the heat reaches the desired temperature right when you've scheduled it.
Price at time of publish: $61
Dimensions: 5 x 1.5 x 4.94 inches | Control Type: Push buttons | Power Source: Hardwired | Program Mode: 7-day
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better thermostat than the Google Nest Learning Thermostat. While fairly expensive, the Nest automatically creates an optimized schedule for your home, making it effortless to balance comfort and energy efficiency. For something more affordable, consider the Honeywell Home RTH221B Programmable Thermostat, which is extremely basic but still lets you set one four-period program that will run seven days a week.
What to Look For in a Thermostat
Ease of Installation
If you’re planning on installing your new thermostat yourself, it’s important to select a model that’s DIY friendly and compatible with your heating and cooling system. If a thermostat requires hardwiring, it will typically require a C-wire, which provides continuous power from the heating and cooling system. Check your existing setup to see if there’s a C-wire available. If not, consider buying a battery-powered unit or hiring a professional to aid with installation.
Today’s thermostats come with various features, and you can select one that’s as basic or high-tech as you need. One popular feature is the ability to set daily programs that automatically adjust the temperature in your home—people often set programs that adjust the temperature when they leave for work, return home, and go to bed.
If you're searching for a higher-end thermostat, Anand recommends browsing smart thermostats, which connect to Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to adjust your thermostat from your phone and even connect it to other smart home devices. Anand also advises considering models that offer capabilities such as geofencing, which allows your thermostat to adjust the temperature of your home after detecting that you're away from your home via phone app connection. Other features you may want to look for include the ability to control multiple zones and compatibility with remote sensors.
Thermostats are often displayed prominently within your home, so it’s always a good idea to select one that you find aesthetically pleasing. Some of today’s high-end thermostats have sleek modern designs—some even allow you to change the color of the display screen—and many offer touchscreen controls for added convenience.
Can you install a thermostat yourself?
Many of today’s thermostats are designed for DIY installation, and the manufacturer will likely provide a step-by-step guide and videos to walk you through the process. "A DIY thermostat is for your run-of-the-mill home, where you have a furnace and AC, and you can go to an online compatibility checker to make sure the thermostat you’re purchasing is compatible with your home," says Anand. It’s fairly easy to connect a set of thermostat wires, as long as you know what the terminal letters stand for and what each terminal controls.
However, it’s important to select a thermostat that’s compatible with your existing heating and cooling system, otherwise, it may require connections that aren’t readily available. "If you have a whole home humidification system, that would be an installation where you want professional assistance, especially if you want all your systems connected," adds Anand. The same applies to economizer and zoning home systems.
Will most thermostats work in most homes?
Various heating systems are commonly found in homes today, but unfortunately, not all thermostats are compatible with different systems. You’ll need to figure out whether your furnace is designed for use with low-voltage, line-voltage, or millivolt thermostats, as this will dictate what type of thermostat you need. If you’re unsure, hiring a professional is always a good idea to ensure safe wiring.
How and when should you test a thermostat?
If you think your thermostat isn’t functioning properly, there are a couple of ways you can test it. One easy way is to slowly increase the temperature setting on your thermostat. It will generally make a clicking sound, and your furnace will kick on. (You may need to have a helper stand by the furnace to see if it makes a noise.) If the furnace doesn’t respond, the thermostat is likely not sending a signal and may need to be replaced.
"Some people purchase off-the-shelf temperature sensors to test if the display and air temperature match, if they’re different then that may be an indication of a larger issue," says Anand. "You can also just turn the fan on and off to see if it runs without adjusting the temperature." The easiest way to check a smart thermostat's performance is to ensure that it maintains a strong Wi-Fi connection. A poor Wi-Fi connection would lead to issues and could be a cause of poor system performance.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce. After living in more than 10 different apartments, she's used all types of thermostats, including basic, no-frills models, as well as high-tech smart products. While selecting thermostats for this list, she considered factors such as their compatibility with different heating systems, as well as the complexity of their installation. She looked for options with a wide range of features, as well as products to suit every budget.
Emma Phelps, an Updates Writer for The Spruce, provided additional assistance for this article by speaking with Shilpa Anand, a senior product manager for smart thermostats at Resideo. Anand provided essential information on what qualities to look for in a thermostat and how to test a home thermostat's performance.