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Smart thermostat roundup

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

Devices that save you cash

As the temperatures go up (and in some areas of the country, skyrocket), we're all turning our thoughts to ways to stay cool without parting with extra cash at electric bill time. You may have already outfitted your home with energy-saving electronics, solar screens, radiant barriers and more. But there's one more way dropping a couple hundred bucks up front could save you (and the environment) in the long run. Beat the heat -- and the electric company -- this summer with these smart thermostats.

A smart thermostat does more than control the temperature while you're home. It's programmable and often accessible when you're away from home. Going to be out a few hours (or days) longer than you thought? That's not a problem with these intelligent devices.

Nest

Nest

Called "gorgeous, elegant and very, very smart" by The New York Times' David Pogue, Nest (Nest, $249) is probably one of the most well-known smart 'stats on the market. As easy to install as a light fixture, this thermostat is deceptively simple. Not only can you control your Nest from a laptop or smartphone, it learns from you. The Nest knows when you're away and will adjust itself when you're gone. It also senses the humidity and weather to help further fine-tune itself.

In addition to its energy-saving smart technology, which can save up to 30 percent on your bill at times, it also guides you in the right direction by displaying a small green leaf when you're running at an energy-efficient temperature. You can also view your energy history so you'll always know when the system was on and what racks up (and what reduces) your bill.

Ecobee

Ecobee

Ecobee promises an easy, smart and green solution to your home (and business) temperature-control needs. This easy-to-use touchscreen allows you to control the temperature of your environment quickly and easily using your web browser or smartphone. Featuring an intuitive (and web-accessible) interface with temperature control, usage reports, reminders, a vacation schedule and more, the Ecobee (Ecobee, around $225) device should probably be installed by a pro unless you're comfortable messing with your home's wiring.

Depending on your energy usage, it can save you up to $500 per year or more on your bill without sacrificing your comfort. The Ecobee allows you to be cool and comfy when you're home and save valuable dollars when you're not.

Homewerks Radio Wireless Thermostat with Wi-Fi

Homewerks Radio Wireless Thermostat with Wi-Fi

While it's not as powerful as the Nest or Ecobee, the Homewerks Radio Wireless Thermostat with Wi-Fi (Amazon, $127) is an inexpensive alternative for those who don't want all the features, but still want the energy savings. You can control the thermostat from your smartphone to ensure it's cool when you arrive home and it has a programmable seven-day mode. Like the Nest, it can be easily installed by anyone with a basic knowledge of home maintenance and repair.

The Homewerks doesn't save as much money annually as the Ecobee or Nest and doesn't have the statistical info you'll get from those devices, either. It also costs a good deal less than those if you're just planning to try out a smart device for a year or so to see if you'll really use its remote functioning.

The HomeMizer from Energy Management Systems

The HomeMizer from Energy Management Systems

The HomeMizer isn't actually a thermostat. It's an energy control device that guarantees an 8 percent reduction in electricity usage. It works by significantly controlling energy spikes and filters harmful electromagnetic fields (EMF) to make your home safer and more environmentally friendly. The HomeMizer (Energy Management Systems, starts at around $350) is easy to install — you just plug it in and turn it on to start saving!

As an added bonus, the HomeMizer works with any thermostat, including the ones mentioned in this article.

More on home energy

How to extend the life of your air conditioning unit
Energy-efficient appliances
Keep your energy bill in check

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