The best smart thermostats are a great way to save both energy and money when it comes to heating and cooling your home. If you’re going to be late home, you can ensure you’re not heating an empty house.
There’s a number of smart thermostats on the market already, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat from Google and Hive Active Heating. Now, Amazon is joining the ranks with the Alexa Smart Thermostat.
The Alexa Smart Thermostat was one of a number of devices unveiled at the Amazon event 2021 and will be launched in the US later this year. Priced at $59.99 (about £45 / AU$80), the Alexa Smart Thermostat has been produced in conjunction with Resideo, which designs and manufacturers Honeywell Home thermostats.
Saving energy and money
Amazon says the Alexa Smart Thermostat will work with the majority of HVAC systems, and is Energy Star certified, which means the device can help save electricity.
As well as allowing you to control your heating and cooling systems from your smartphone, the Amazon smart thermostat also makes use of the Alexa Hunches feature to automatically lower the temperature if it thinks you’re away from home or have retired for the night.
The Hunches feature was first introduced in the US in 2018 and saw Alexa on Echo smart speakers or Echo Show devices offer suggestions for any smart home devices installed in a property. For example, if you said "Goodnight" to Alexa and a smart light was still switched on, Alexa would offer to turn it off for you. Initially, it required you to confirm the action before Alexa could perform it. However, earlier this year, Amazon made Hunches automatic so there was no need to confirm you wanted the action performed.
We spoke to Amazon, but it couldn't confirm if the Alexa Smart Thermostat would be rolled out in the UK or Australia., but it did reveal that "Internationalisation of all of our products and services is incredibly important".
"We are working hard to make all of the features and devices we’ve announced available everywhere our customers want them," it told TechRadar.
The Alexa Smart Thermostat has square white styling and just like Amazon's smart speakers and smart displays, lets you issue Alexa with a command to adjust the temperature. When the heating is adjusted, the display illuminates with the requested temperature.
Analysis: The price is right but Alexa hunches might not be enough
When it comes to smart home devices, smart thermostats are lagging behind items such as smart speakers in popularity. According to Statista, in 2020 just 33 million US homes had a smart thermostat installed - that equates to just under a quarter of all homes in the US. However, in 2018, almost a third (28%) of US homes had a smart speaker, and that’s expected to increase to 75% by 2025, Statista figures show.
It’s no surprise when you consider the cost of smart thermostats can be at least four times the price of one of the cheapest smart speakers, if not more. So by introducing one of the most affordable smart thermostats on the market, Amazon is going some way to helping break down this barrier to ownership with the Alexa Smart Thermostat.
At just $59.99, it’s cheaper than models from rivals Nest and even Honeywell - the firm that Amazon worked with to develop the thermostat. However, it doesn’t stop there - Amazon also said rebates from local energy providers would be available when purchasing the smart thermostat from Amazon directly, which means it can be obtained for as little as $10.
Many smart thermostats claim you shave hundreds off your energy bill - if you’re the sort of person that runs your heating system all the time, then chances are you’ll generate some hefty savings, but if you already use a schedule to adjust the temperature in your home, the savings won’t be as big.
The smart thermostats that can save you the most money are those that are self-learning, as over time they work out how long your house takes to heat up and cool down, adjusting the schedule and temperature to reflect this. Sure, Alexa Hunches is likely to save you a few cents here and there, by working out if you’ve gone to bed earlier, or unexpectedly popped out for dinner, but if you already have your heating and cooling set to a schedule, it won’t be much.
We’re a little disappointed that Amazon hasn’t gone down the self-learning route as this will save more energy (and money) long term, which as well as being good for the environment is also good for your wallet. We’re confident that Amazon can come up with the good, not least because Alexa itself is always learning and has come on leaps and bounds since its inception in 2014. If this happens, then the Alexa Smart Thermostat really will be a rival to Nest and others on the market.
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