Ecobee vs Nest: We compare the top smart home thermostats
Written by Andrew Sendy
Updated March 12, 2020
5 minutes read
In 1913, in-home refrigeration was the crazy, state-of-the-art invention making people’s lives easier, more efficient, and smarter. Today’s smart home reflects a reality few back then could have imagined. High-tech living rooms, smart kitchens, remote sensors, and digital bathrooms that not so long ago sounded far-fetched are quickly becoming the norm.
For homeowners, a smart home is one that’s equipped with multiple devices that automate tasks they’d normally perform themselves. Some are built into the home while others are stand-alone devices that are operated by voice commands or AI.
Making a home ‘smart’ can be as involved as installing solar tiles or panels, linking speakers, cameras, smartphones, computers, TVs, appliances, and security systems, or as simple as installing a smart thermostat like the ones we’re going to explore here.
How can a smart home benefit me?
Once a draw for the wealthy or tech-savvy, smart homes are becoming more common in everyday American lives. Much of this trend can be attributed to the success of smartphones and tablets that can be configured to control any number of digital devices whether you’re at home or away.
A smart home can certainly make life easier and more convenient. What’s not to love about being able to adjust the temperature and control lighting and entertainment from the comfort of your multi-position couch? Smart security systems and cameras keep you posted on what’s going on inside and outside your home 24/7. Smart devices are already available that not only wake you when there’s a fire, but also unlock the doors, turn on lights, and notify the fire department.
Soon, there may be little a smart home can’t do. From feeding your pet on a set schedule to warming the bathroom before you head in for your morning shower, the list goes on. Finally, there’s no overlooking how beneficial a smart home can be to those who have physical limitations due to age or medical conditions. A smart home can remind someone when it's time to take medications, alert the hospital if a person falls and turn off the oven or stovetop if left unattended for too long.
What smart thermostats does Nest offer?
Nest currently offers two smart thermostats, the Learning Thermostat, and the Thermostat E. The model we cover in this review is the Learning Thermostat which has several features the Thermostat E does not, including a high-res color display, and which works with a greater number of 24V HVAC systems.
What smart thermostats does ecobee offer?
The ecobee4 and ecobee3 lite are nearly identical save for what many people think makes the ecobee4 model the way to go: the integrated Alexa capabilities. The higher-end model also comes with room sensors that can be placed around your home. The ecobee3 now supports the technology but doesn’t include the sensors in the box. Both versions support major smartphone platforms.
Which smart thermostat is better—Nest or ecobee?
Both technologies can help you reach your energy savings goals. The Nest approach is probably a little more user-friendly than the ecobee, but while the Nest works well with both iPhone and Android, the ecobee4 is better suited to Amazon users.
Nest also tends to get higher marks than the ecobee4 does for looks and energy savings benefits. The ecobee4 comes out on top for ease of thermostat adjustment and voice assistant connectivity.
Which one you choose comes down to personal preference. Are you a Google enthusiast who likes style and intelligence? The Nest is probably right for you. If you love Amazon-affiliated products and want more precise control over each room’s temperature, choose the ecobee4.
How much do smart thermostats cost?
The ecobee4 and Nest thermostats have similar price points: on Amazon, the Ecobee model goes for $228 and the Nest for $218. The biggest difference is that the ecobee4 comes with Alexa built-in while the Nest requires a separately sold device.
How much money can a smart thermostat save me?
Many people choose smart thermostats because they want to reduce their utility bills.
Both manufacturers claim you can get back the cost of a smart thermostat in as little as under two years. If you receive a rebate from your local utility company, that time could be even shorter. But your own savings depends on different factors.
Since Ecobee and Nest base their savings assumptions on government data and other surveys, how much you’ll personally save depends on things like your current energy usage and temperature settings, the cost of utilities in your area, seasonal variations, climate, and your current HVAC system and home insulation.
Bottom line: if you’re already taking steps like lowering your thermostat and adding insulation, your savings will be smaller than someone who isn’t. But you’ll still be better off after investing in a smart thermostat.
What other technology works with Nest and ecobee?
They’re alike in many ways, but there are definitely some key differences between the two devices, especially on the issue of software integration. Nest has its ‘Works with Nest’ program which allows other devices like appliances, lights, and even cars to be linked to its products. It also has Google Assistant and Alexa compatibility as well as IFTTT.
Ecobee may be the smaller brand, but its range is compatible with more brands such as Alexa, Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT, Logitech Harmony, and Apple HomeKit. This alone gives the ecobee a slight edge because if you decide to switch devices, say from an Android to an iPhone, you’ll have more options.
Is upgrading my home’s energy efficiency worth it?
No lesser expert than the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy suggests making the move to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency. The office estimates that of the $2000 the average American spends annually on energy, $200 to $400 is spent on air leaks, drafts, and outdated HVAC systems. From these figures alone, it’s easy to see how investing in a smart thermostat can start paying dividends with a year or two.