When it comes to choosing energy-saving upgrades for your connected home, smart thermostats should be near the top of your list due to their potential for monthly paybacks in the form of reduced utility bills. And when you can buy an exceedingly smart thermostat for significantly less than the $249 cost commanded by the industry-standard Nest Learning Thermostat, the deal is even sweeter—particularly if you are considering one as a gift. Therein lies the appeal with the $169 Nest Thermostat E, a device that gives up virtually nothing in smarts and functionality compared to its more expensive big brother.
Certainly, there are a few aesthetic and design tradeoffs when selecting the the E model over its $80-more-expensive brother, including a white polycarbonate ring instead of sexier polished metal construction, a slightly lower resolution display, and the lack of the Farsight feature—where time, temperature, or weather can be displayed and read from across the room.
But the two thermostats offer precisely the same set of smart features, including auto-learning for creating schedules, anywhere control with the Nest app, auto-away capability, integration with a vast range of third-party Works with Nest accessories, and much more. Do not underestimate the ability of these smart thermostats to definitively save energy and money every month of the year, through their auto-programmed schedules that automatically adjust the temperature day in, day out or via the auto-away feature that similarly adjusts the temperature as soon as you leave the house.
One area where the higher-cost Nest Learning Thermostat may have an advantage: It works with a wider range of heating and cooling systems than its little brother, so be sure to check the compatibility with your home’s system before taking the plunge.
As far as smoothly integrating into your smart home, the Thermostat E is part of the expanding Nest and Google Home product families so you can expect reliable integration with other products under the expanding Alphabet family of brands, plus easy voice activation control with the Google Home speaker and the Google Assistant. Smooth control though the Nest app on Apple iOS and Google Android-based mobile devices is also a given, as well as control though smart watches—such as the Apple Watch. If you are a fan of the Amazon Echo line of voice-activated speakers, the Nest Thermostat E is also fully supported by Alexa assistant skills.
We have been speaking favorably about Nest thermostats since we launched Digitized House, and the lower cost of the Nest Thermostat E makes them all the more likely to remain on our list of top recommendations. You can hardly go wrong with this device as a holiday gift.
Tom Kolnowski is the Chief Content Officer & Founder of Digitized House Media, LLC, the publisher of Digitized House | Guide to the Connected Home. When he isn’t writing about smart home technology, sustainability, and high-performance architecture, you’ll find him exploring faraway destinations with his family.