Smart thermostats can help you save money on heating and cooling costs and add functional convenience to your home. These Internet of Things devices aren't cheap, hovering around $250. That's the price of the category-creating Nest Learning Thermostat, which debuted in 2011.

But more relatively affordable smart thermostats are now on the market. Nest's two chief competitors, Honeywell and Ecobee, both offer models for less than $200, and Nest itself recently followed suit with the Thermostat E, $169.

“There are some good choices for under $200,” says CR test engineer Peter Anzalone, who oversees our smart thermostats lab. “We've found thermostats perform pretty much the same in controlling temperature, regardless of price. The differences lie more in the design, user interface, and features.” 

Here you’ll find five affordable models from CR's brand-new ratings of smart thermostats. We’ve included the sub-$200 models from Honeywell, Ecobee, and Nest, as well as two affordable options from Emerson and Lux. They aren’t the best performers in our tests, but they’re capable performers and should more than pay for themselves by saving you money on your utility bills. 

How We Test Smart Thermostats

"Today's thermostats all do a very good job of triggering the appliance to activate within a degree or two of the set-point temperature," says Anzalone. So instead of testing for temperature accuracy, our labs focus on usability. That includes ease of manual control—just like how we test nonconnected programmable thermostats—and three criteria specific to smart thermostats: smart home features, automation of heating and cooling, and wireless setup.

More on Smart Thermostats

Our testing of smart home features factors in things such as alerts, app control, and geofencing (which tells the thermostat when you're coming and going). All of these individual features are incorporated into our Smart IQ score, which allows you to see just how “smart” one thermostat is compared to another.

For automation, we check to see whether the smart thermostats learn your habits and routines to adjust temperatures for you.

Lastly, we test wireless setup, which includes connecting the thermostats to WiFi, setting up their corresponding smartphone apps, and setting up voice control with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri, if integrations with those virtual assistants are available.

All of these tests are folded into a model's overall score, giving you a straightforward, at-a-glance view of our comprehensive test results.

These five smart thermostats under $200, listed in alphabetical order, are well worth a look. 

Smart Thermostats That Are a Smart Buy

Ecobee Lite EB-STATe3L-01, $170
The Ecobee brand has often been eclipsed by Nest, but Ecobee beat Nest to market with its own affordable smart thermostat, the Ecobee Lite EB-STATe3L-0. This model offers a home/away setting (just like Nest), programmable scheduling, and a vacation mode.

This Ecobee doesn’t offer the same level of automation as Nest, but it makes up for it with slick app and on-device controls. The lack of a remote sensor keeps the price of the Ecobee Lite EB-STATe3L-0 down. You can buy remote sensors separately in a two-pack, $79.

Emerson Sensi UP500W, $130
This smart thermostat is unique in that it’s the only one on the market that doesn’t always require a C-wire, or common wire, which provides power to the thermostat. Instead, the Emerson Sensi UP500W gets power from AA batteries. (Emerson says that some systems still require a C-wire.) Always check your thermostat wiring before you buy a smart model, as the C-wire isn’t commonly found on older heating and cooling systems.

At first glance, you probably wouldn’t think the Sensi is a smart model. It lacks a touchscreen, but still includes app controls, programming of multiple schedules, and geofencing. And like most of the thermostats on this list, it offers voice control via Alexa and Siri.

Honeywell Lyric T5 RCHT8610WF, $130
Honeywell, which invented the precursor to the thermostat in 1886, offers two smart thermostats. The Lyric T5 is the more affordable model. It’s not as stylish as the flagship Lyric Round, the T5 offers a lot of utility, including the ability to set a vacation schedule via the app, programmable scheduling, and geofencing. It also has a hold function that lets you override scheduling, a welcome feature you won't find on all smart thermostats.

Lux Geo-WH-003, $150
This Lux smart thermostat makes a statement with its unusual design that features a large temperature dial next to its display. The Geo-WH-003 allows for programmed schedules, geofencing, and app-based home/away settings, but it lacks vacation scheduling. The only problem with this model is that the screen occasionally went blank during programming in our testing and required you to press a reset button to restart the thermostat. Despite this hiccup, the Geo still performed decently.

Nest Thermostat E, $170
Nest’s new thermostat trades the metal-and-glass body for one made of white and translucent plastics. Like its more expensive sibling, the Nest E is highly automated, learning your routine and building a schedule through its sensors and geofencing. The only downside is that the Nest E doesn’t support as many HVAC-system wiring configurations as the Learning Thermostat (now in its third generation). That just means you’ll want to make sure the Nest E works with your HVAC system before you buy it.





Check our smart thermostat buying guide and ratings for more information and to see more models.