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High-tech thermostats simplify climate control

Wednesday - 7/23/2014, 8:18am  ET

thermostat ((AP Photo/Michael C. York)
Consumer Reports has a list of their top-recommended thermostats. (AP Photo/Michael C. York)

WASHINGTON -- Programmable thermostats are getting easier to use and syncing them with smartphones is revolutionizing the concept of climate control.

"Some of the neat things we're seeing include, for example, voice activated programmable thermostats," says Senior Home Editor at Consumer Reports Dan DiClerico.

Another model uses GPS in smartphones to make temperature adjustments based on a homeowner's location.

"[With] geo fencing, the thermostat knows where you are relative to your home," DiClerico says.

When the Allure Eversense programmable thermostat determines the last cellphone in a home has left, or the first linked cellphone is approaching a pre-determined distance, the thermostat automatically adjusts A/C or heat as needed.

Voice-activated, programmable thermostats have voice recognition and respond to numbers of commands such as, "make it warmer," "make it colder," "what's the temperature in here?", and "what's the temperature outside?", says DiClerico.

Consumer Reports evaluated the "ease of use" of 30 programmable thermostats in two categories -- those that are "connected" with remote access and models that program into the wall.

"Honeywell has the top-rated model in both categories. They've really made a huge investment in this market and it's really paying off," DiClerico says.

Below are Consumer Reports' recommended thermostats and their scores out of 100:

Without remote access:

  • Honeywell Prestige - 95
  • Lux - 75
  • Lux Smart Temp - 75
  • Robert Shaw - 74
With remote access:
  • Honeywell - 90
  • American Standard AccuLink - 90

"There still is a lot of room for improvement in this market, but some manufacturers at least are doing a great job of making these devices a lot easier to use," DiClerico says.

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