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The Smart Thermostat Buying Guide

Aug 05, 2021|

Smart homes have made life more convenient for millions of people around the country. While there are hundreds of smart home devices on the market today, the most popular remains the smart thermostat. It’s easy to see why, too—they help you save money and energy without sacrificing comfort.

If you’re looking for the best smart thermostat for your home, this guide will help you learn how they work, the differences between the various types of thermostats, and various features.

Vivint Smart Thermostat on Wall at 72
A Smart Thermostat is a great device for any home automation system.

History of thermostats

Thermostats have come a long way through the years. Initially, they were designed with farming and industrial uses in mind. The first thermostats on record were actually developed in the 1600s and designed to incubate eggs. In 1830, bimetallic thermostats were invented to ensure textile mills, which required a steady temperature, operated properly.

But what about residential use? Thermostats for use in homes and schools came about in 1880s. These early thermostats were the smart devices of their time, and regulated temperature inside via an invention called the damper flapper. If the temperature inside became colder than the thermostat, the damper flapper would lift the damper on the furnace. The air would then fan the furnace’s flames and warm the home.

Thermostat types

While you won’t find any thermostats hooked up to a damper flapper anymore, there are still a variety of different thermostats on the market today. The most common include dial, programmable, and smart thermostats.

Dial thermostat

You may not see many of these anymore, but they are available to purchase and install. Also called mechanical thermostats, this thermostat is wall-mounted and has a dial you can twist to control the temperature. Although this is an affordable, basic thermostat, it lacks features like programming to help you save energy and digital displays for easier reading.

Programmable thermostat

Programmable thermostats let you program the temperature in your home, so the heating or cooling kicks on or off depending on your settings. For example, you might program your thermostat to remain at 75 degrees during the day, then lower to 68 degrees at night.

Smart thermostats

Smart thermostats are smart home devices that go beyond the basic programming found in programmable thermostats. They’re designed to automate your home’s temperature, allowing you to save money and energy while staying comfortable.

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Smart thermostat basics

Also known as a Wi-Fi thermostat or wireless thermostat, smart thermostats connect to your WiFi, allowing you to control your home’s temperature remotely via an app on your smartphone.

But what really makes them “smart” is their ability to learn your temperature preferences, then automatically adjust them.

How smart thermostats work

Each smart home functions a little differently based on features, but for the most part, you’ll start by manually setting your desired temperatures. Your thermostat then begins to “learn” the temperature you prefer, and will automatically adjust accordingly. So if you like your house cooler at night or adjust the temperature up or down when you leave the house, your thermostat will recognize your preferences and adjust them for you.

You can also manually adjust the temperature whenever you want, via your thermostat’s app or the actual thermostat itself.

Smart thermostat benefits

True, a smart thermostat sounds like a cool thing to have. But there are many practical benefits to a smart thermostat, too. Some of these include:

girl jumping on couch and thermostat on wall
The Vivint Smart Thermostat looks great in any room.

Energy savings

When it comes to energy usage, heating and cooling your home takes the most energy by far; air conditioning and heating makes up an average of 46% of your home’s total energy usage.

Money savings

Saving energy also means saving money. Smart thermostats that are ENERGY STAR certified can save an average of 10-12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills.


Because smart thermostats automate your temperature control, you don’t have to worry about remembering to program your thermostat.


In addition to not having to worry about programming your thermostat, a smart thermostat also gives you the convenience of being able to check and control your temperature remotely.


Saving energy doesn’t mean you have to shiver your way through the winter or keep your home at 80 degrees in the middle of the summer (unless you like that, of course!). With a smart thermostat, you can save and still enjoy a comfortable temperature.

Choosing a thermostat

As you shop for a smart thermostat, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your thermostat has the features and functionality you want:

Smart home integration

Is your thermostat going to be part of a complete smart home system? Make sure it’s compatible with the rest of your smart home devices. A smart thermostat from Vivint, for example, integrates with the rest of your home’s devices and can all be controlled from a single location.


Most smart thermostats are wall-mounted, so consider the thermostat’s color and overall look and style when choosing the best thermostat for your home.

Smart thermostat features

This is an important one. Not all smart thermostats have the same features and will vary based on brand and price point. Make sure you compare smart thermostat features, such as control, geofencing, sensors, and display.

The best smart thermostat

So you’re ready to buy a smart thermostat. One thing you’ll notice as you begin shopping is the sheer number of options available. Here are two of our favorites:

Vivint Smart Thermostat

The Vivint Smart Thermostat has all the features you need to save energy and money without sacrificing comfort at home.

Some of the best things about the Vivint Smart Thermostat include:

  • Automatic control. The Vivint Smart Thermostat features in-home sensors that auto-adjust based on your temperature preferences. Your home stays as cool or warm as you like it—automatically.
  • Control from anywhere. Adjust your temperature remotely via your Smart Home App, no matter where in the house (or world!) you are. Let’s say you turned the AC off while you went away on vacation. Rather than returning home to a house that’s hot and stuffy, you can simply turn the air conditioner back on as you get closer to home.
  • Smart home integration. As part of your Vivint smart home, your Smart Thermostat integrates with your other smart home devices and systems. And while you’re at home, you can control them all from your home’s Smart Hub.
  • Automatic HVAC Shutoff. Not only is the Vivint Smart Thermostat convenient, but it can also save your life with the emergency HVAC shutoff feature. If your Vivint Smoke Detector senses a fire, your thermostat will automatically shut off your HVAC system to prevent a blowing AC or heater from fanning the flames.
  • Voice control. Your Vivint Smart Thermostat also pairs with smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home, so adjusting your temperature is as easy as saying, “Alexa, turn the heat up two degrees!”
  • Professional installation. All Vivint systems include professional installation by our certified Smart Home Pros. In addition to making sure everything is up and running, they’ll also show you how to use your new thermostat and take advantage of all its cool features.
customer on app in front of smart thermostat
Adjust your thermostat at the thermostat, with the Smart Hub, or on your app from anywhere.

Nest thermostat

The Nest thermostat is a favorite of many people, with standard smart thermostat features including:

  • In-home sensors and location. Using in-home sensor’s and your phone’s location (when enabled), the Nest adjusts your temperature whether you’re home or away.
  • Temperature sensors. Not everyone wants the same temperature in every room of the house. You can purchase additional temperature sensors for specific rooms in your house, so Nest can learn that room’s preferences as well. For example, if you and your spouse like your bedroom warm but your kids sleep better in a cooler room, temperature sensors help keep everyone’s room the perfect temperature.
  • Integration with Vivint. Your Nest thermostat also integrates with your Vivint smart home system, so you can control your entire smart home from one platform.

Comfort, convenience, and savings with a smart thermostat

When it comes to smart home devices, smart thermostats are a must-have. A smart thermostat does the work for you, keeping your home comfortable while saving money and energy at the same time.

Ready to find out the difference a smart thermostat can make in your home (and wallet)? Contact our Smart Home Pros today for a free consultation.

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