Ever since Nest introduced its $249 Learning Thermostat in 2011, pricey Wi-Fi-enabled temperature controllers have been trending in the smart-home industry. But not everyone wants a super fancy thermostat. So, how do you pick something that’s affordable and also works well?
Most people, I imagine, head to their local hardware store, grab something in their price range and hope for the best. Here in Kentucky, that means you’re pretty much guaranteed to buy a Honeywell thermostat. That’s because the vast majority of available models at stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot are all the same brand.
But you’ll find a lot more thermostat companies when you open up your search to Amazon and other online retailers. Even Lowe’s and Home Depot’s online stores offer a lot more than just the two dozen different Honeywell models you’ll see in person.
So I grabbed five different thermostats from Honeywell, Hunter, Emerson, White-Rodgers (an Emerson brand) and Lux. All of them are available online for $30 or less and all of them have basic programming capabilities. How do you find the right model for you, then? Here are some things you need to keep in mind.
Let’s face it — basic thermostats can be really confusing. I moved earlier this year and still haven’t had the patience to figure out my outdated, confusing-to-use programmable model from the early ’90s. Part of this review process was selfishly driven, because I wanted to figure out if there are any affordable thermostats out there that aren’t a total pain.
While most of them are at least a little inconvenient to program, some are better than others.
That’s due in large part to the buttons available on classic thermostat displays. A lot of brands double up on buttons so that a single “Set” or “Program” button performs multiple functions. It isn’t all that difficult once you figure it out, but it might require reading a user manual.