How to Choose a Smart Thermostat Without Subscription Fees

How to Choose a Smart Thermostat Without Subscription Fees

When it comes to integrating your air and heat with a smart home system, you’ll probably want to find a smart thermostat without subscription fees. Some smart thermostats make you pay for the subscription, but all of these thermostats on this list are a one-time purchase. Hookup to Alexa or Google Home for voice control and remote settings using the app! Smart thermostats give you greater control and availability for your home heating and air conditioning.

Top Recommendations

Honeywell’s Home system is equipped for hookups to Alexa, Google Home, and Apple products. Connect it directly to the HVAC system for total house control. The app has some advanced logistics, including a weather forecast so you can predict and adjust temperatures on the fly. Cold front blowing in, or sunny days approaching? Change the schedule and settings right on your phone to save on energy costs and keep your house comfortable all the time. I honestly love being able to look at the weather and make changes right from the app.

Nest T3007ES Thermostat

Upgrade Option

Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest Learning Thermostat

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The Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation) has the most gorgeous design and user interface, with a copper exterior and circular frame. The Nest can be controlled directly from the easy to download apps, and the circular Nest hub. Hook up to Amazon or Google products to get voice control. The Nest is the upgrade option because it is optimized for energy savings. The system monitors exactly how much energy you’ve been using and when you’ve been using it, so you can reduce consumption and cost while maintaining the same temperature standards.

Emerson’s Sensi Wi-Fi Thermostat hooks up to most central HVAC systems, providing a smart home integration for your air and heat needs. You can check their compatibility here (source). It’s the cheapest option for a smart thermostat without a subscription, hooking up to Google, Alexa, and Apple products to let you control your thermostat from your phone in any situation. You can set up smart notifications straight to your phone if when temperature and humidity change drastically.

The Honeywell RTH is listed as the alternative option because, for a high price tag, you get two smart thermostats which can be hooked up to a two thermostat home. Full smart home integration with the two consoles allows you to control larger spaces with a single app and system. Honeywell’s system only is compatible with Amazon Alexa (not Google or Apple products), but it can be accessed from phones and computers with ease. The smart system figures out how long it takes to change the temperature in your house, and can be programmed to get it to the perfect temperature by a specific time (like when you wake up).

How to Choose Smart Thermostat Without Subscription Fees

Everyone has a different definition of “smart” when it comes to smart thermostats. You might need a full smart home setup, or just want something you can control with an app on the go.

None of the products on this list make you pay subscriptions for the data and control. What we’re really looking for in value is a user experience that you love and the proper integration. If you’ve got Alexa, you’ll obviously want a product that supports Alexa. Also the end-user experience is different for each of these products, and many smart thermostats have different features. You’ll want to look for features that are right for your lifestyle, like weather reporting, energy consumption data, or proper cycling.

No Subscription

Why pay a monthly fee for your own temperature control and data usage? All of the products on this list are smart thermostats without a subscription fee.

Smart-home Integration

Maybe you’re just looking for a thermostat with an app, or maybe you’ve got a great smart-home setup running through Alexa or Google and you want to integrate your thermostat.

The Honeywell Home gives you the largest range of smart home options, including Alexa and Google, and products I’ve never even heard of. Nest works great with Alexa and has a beautiful app system. If you have an Apple system, Emerson is the only smart thermostat that is specifically built to integrate with that. The Honeywell RTH also has a number of smart home integrations. Basically, if you have Alexa or Google, you can hook up to almost anything. Once you get Apple products, or smart home systems even further removed from the mainstream, you’ll want to dig deep into the specifications of the device.

Setup Process

You might be able to plug and play some of these thermostats without expert help, but you’ll probably need some patience to do it. Ultimately, setting up an HVAC panel can be fairly difficult and you’ll probably need to get some help.

The nest has a video produced by Google (source) that makes it look fairly easy to install, but I had some difficulties with it. You may have to eventually call an electrician or expert to come over and get you fully set up. Honeywell products, like the Home and the RTH, are designed to fit panels of older non-smart Honeywell products. If you already have Honeywell products in your home I’d recommend just upgrading to their smart thermostats, which requires replacing the front plate and nothing else!

The Emerson is probably the best do-it-yourself model, which is convenient, because it’s also the cheapest. If you want to keep costs down by installing it yourself, you might want to go with the Emerson.


You can snag an Emerson for under 100 dollars, making it the cheapest product on the list. Honeywell homes are over 100, and the Nest will run you over 200. The Honeywell RTH is a double-panel system for about 300, making it a good deal if and only if you need 2 panels to run your house.

Aesthetics and Options

Let’s face it, we don’t really need a smart thermostat, but boy can they be fun. You’ll want to pick one that you truly enjoy and improves your lifestyle, instead of just getting it because it’s smart.

The Nest has a beautiful UI design and is easy to show off to friends, hook up to Google products, and control from your phone. The big drawback of the Honeywell and Emerson systems, for me, is that they just aren’t as cool as the Nest. The Honeywell Home has some nice customization and weather features though. If you’re putting the panel in a heavily trafficked area, you can set up a nice color display and also have it show local weather reports to keep everyone informed.

Smart Thermostats Without Subscription Fees

The Honeywell Home is my basic recommendation for a smart thermostat. No subscription, just a simple HVAC hookup that is compatible with a long list of smart devices. The temperature prediction piece is wonderful. I hate it when I wake up in the morning and the heater has just come on and it’s still really cold. With the Honeywell Home, I can set it so that it’s already 72 degrees when I wake up.

What We Like:

  • Full integration with Alexa, Samsung, Google, IFTTT, Stringy, Wink, Bonomi, and Cortana smart systems.
  • The hub has a touchscreen with color and customization options to make the user experience friendly and beautiful.
  • Intelligent alerts let me know when the temperature drops or raises in a way that is unexpected, and the system updates me on wifi outages and air filter replacements.
  • View the local weather right on the screen to prep for your day and adjust the temperature of the system.
  • Security codes can lock the front panel so only you can access it.

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Not compatible with 2-wire applications for HVAC. Check your system to make sure the Honeywell is compatible.
  • Limited availability for cycling temperatures. The Honeywell will only cycle with a 0.5 degree range, meaning that it will automatically go on if your temperature reaches 75.5 and will go off once it’s at 74.5, and back and forth. But the cycle is small and puts a lot of stress on the unit.

Nest has great customer service and an excellent website which can help you determine the compatibility of your system with the Nest product line (source). The third-generation learning thermostat is built for people trying to optimize their energy consumption. The thermostat gathers data about energy use, efficiency, and cost, relaying the data to you so you can maintain great temperatures while minimizing energy consumption. The beautiful circular design looks great in every room!

What We Like:

  • Gorgeous bronze design with a circular form, looks extremely professional and classy on your walls.
  • Energy consumption data helps you optimize your spending and energy bills while maintaining comfortable temperatures.
  • Beautiful app design to control your system from anywhere, and easy hookups to Alexa and Google products.
  • Save significant money with the energy consumption.
  • The learning mechanics help discover your habits and routines to optimize temperatures for your lifestyle.
  • Line of backplates helps you customize the aesthetics. Can’t stress it enough, I think that the Nest is the most beautiful smart thermostat you can buy.

What We Didn’t Like:

  • High price, for only a few more features than the thermostats that are a hundred dollars less.
  • Difficult to install. You’ll probably have to hire an electrician to do it unless you happen to be really good with wiring.

The Emerson Sensi self-installed system has great instructions which are easy to read and follow, allowing you to get your smart thermostat up and running in about 30 minutes. It is the cheapest system on the list though, and the app ends up being pretty basic. It mostly shows you temperature and humidity and notifies you when something out of the ordinary is occuring. And you can change the temperature and settings, but you get no advanced data or controls.

What We Like:

  • Compatible with almost any smart product, including Google, Amazon, and Apple branded gear.
  • Battery backup if it loses power. When it loses power, you also get a notification on your phone to let you know that something went wrong.
  • Once you’ve installed the app on your phone, it can also be controlled directly from the Emerson website.
  • Cheapest model on the list. If you just need a smart thermostat without a subscription fee, and you don’t need too much functionality, this might be the perfect model.
  • ses geofencing to detect location and alter temperature when you walk into your home.

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Limited functionality because of its cheaper price.

The Honeywell RTH comes with two thermostats, making it a decent price if you need both, but outrageously expensive otherwise. It’s a great alternative option for larger floor plans that have two HVAC consoles. The smart thermostat learns how long it takes to change temperatures in your space, and can use this to come on early enough to reach a desired temperature by a desired time. Compatible with only Alexa, but also with smartphone apps. Sleek and reliable thermostats that look great in the hallways and feel great on your skin!

What We Like:

  • Good price if you need to buy two consoles.
  • Smart predictions learn how long it takes to heat and cool your space, and uses the data to make predictions.
  • Control both smart thermostats from a single app command center. Give the two thermostats different names so you don’t confuse them.
  • If you already have a Honeywell system that you’re replacing, the screws and frame are in the same place for easy installation.
  • Unit connects great to wifi and reconnects automatically if it goes down and comes back on.

What We Didn’t Like:

  • It’s a two pack, so it will be too expensive if you only need one console.
  • Only compatible with Alexa, not Google or Apple smart home products.

Top Recommendation

My top recommendation is the Honeywell Home. It is the most reasonably priced, coming with full home integration for your smart devices. I love the app, the color changing ability, and the weather reporting. Nest is simply too expensive for a few features, and the Emerson just doesn’t have the cool-factor that the Honeywell Home brings. The Honeywell RTH can be great if you need two panels, but honestly, I’d probably just buy a second Honeywell Home.