Looking for a smarter way to control your home heating and cooling and hopefully even save some money? The latest option isn’t installing a new HVAC system or switching to green – though if your system is old and inefficient, those both help. No, if you’re system is new, all you need is a new thermostat. Better yet, you need a smart thermostat.
Smart thermostats started out as basic appliances that allow you to connect to your home’s heating and cooling system remotely (read: even when you’re not at home). These systems allow you to optimize your heating and cooling to make sure your system isn’t working hard when there’s no one home to enjoy it.
Today, there are a number of these smart thermostats available on the market. While they all share the same spirit of engineering, there are some stark differences.
The Emerson Sensi Touch is a basic smart thermostat that allows you to participate in remote heating and cooling control without adding all the bells, whistles, and data found in many of the other products on the market today. In our opinion, the Sensi Touch is a good starter option for those who want the scheduling functions but would find the added controls confusing or find them completely superfluous.
Want to learn more about this smart home device? Keep reading for our full review.
What Is the Emerson Sensi Touch and How Does It Work?
The Sensi Touch is the second iteration of Emerson’s smart thermostats. While the previous generation, the Sensi, was a basic and uninspired method of temperature control, the Sensi Touch offers a few more features than its predecessor. The bottom line: If you want more than what the Sensi Touch offers but don’t need all the bells and whistles associated with other smart thermostats, then keep reading.
The body of the thermostat isn’t design inspired, but it is practical. It offers a 272 x 480 pixel 4.3” touchscreen that doesn’t claim to be sensitive or creative. However, the brightness and picture make it easy to read and simple to set. We like that the mode is easy to spot from far away: the numbers are against a red background when your heat is on and a blue one when you’ve turned on the A/C.
Because it’s basic, installation should take less than 30 minutes, bar any technical issues with the app on your phone. More glitches have been reported with the Android version of the app than the iPhone, but the issues don’t appear to be widespread.
Once you’re set up, you’ll connect your thermostat to the internet and HomeKit, and you’re good to go.
What’s Changed Between the Sensi and Sensi Touch?
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In designing the latest model, Emerson chose a design that’s a bit more pleasant to look at. The design is sleeker, and the name Touch comes from the added touch screen interface.
Sensi also boosted the performance slightly, but we’ll touch more on that later.
Like its predecessor, the Sensi Touch offers a few basic but important features: scheduling options and app features.
Your Heating and Cooling Schedule
The Sensi app offers a few basic features beyond flipping the on-and-off switch remotely. You’ll be able to set up a schedule according to date and time to change the temperature throughout the day. It’s not far off from setting a timer on your HVAC system, but it does allow you to switch it remotely, which is always useful.
You’ll find several basic options for your heating and cooling schedule including:
- Adjustments to temperature
- Changes to fan
- Switching between heating and cooling
One of the stranger quirks of the system is that while you can always change schedules on the app, changing it on the thermostat itself is a no-go. You’ll need to disconnect it from the wifi to switch the schedule, but turning off the wifi means you need to re-set the thermostat to reconnect it from the app. The point of using a remote thermostat is to change it via your device, but it’s something to keep in mind in the even you ever need to make changes manually.
If you do make manual changes, the thermostat will hold the temperature you’ve set for two hours before reverting to your regular schedule.
Other App Features
Other than the temperature schedule, the app doesn’t offer many more features. The main page manages several thermostats, and the summary screen shows the temperature for each thermostat in your house.
It also shows the weather for your location, which could allow you to pre-emptively heat or cool your house.
Finally, there are settings options, like the option to show humidity or display the temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius. You’ll also find advanced options
What Makes the Emerson Sensi Touch Unique?
Emerson’s Sensi Touch is a step up from a basic thermostat, but there’s one feature that stands out distinctly not only from the wider competition but also against virtually every other gadget: the installation path is lit up without requiring external power.
Instead of grabbing a flashlight or fiddling around, Emerson illuminated the terminals you seek, making it easier to see the labels and get the wires in the appropriate place every time. The app also has space for a photograph of the wiring of your existing thermostat, so you can refer back to the photo during installation to make sure you get it right.
After you’ve installed it, setup is complete using the app. The app is good for more than setting up functionality, so download it onto your device before installing the hardware for simple step-by-step instructions.
Outside of installation, the Emerson Sensi Touch is defined by its lack of features rather than by distinctive options. It is designed for someone with interest in saving on energy bills without concerned for complicated heating and cooling schedules.
Emerson set the list price for the Sensi Touch at $200, making it more expensive than a standard thermostat, even those with the option to schedule. However, it is priced more affordably than other smart thermostats.
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The price puts Sensi Touch in the middle of the road. It’s $50 or so cheaper than the latest models from its competitors, but it’s still more expensive than the previous generation of Ecobee and Nest products.
The consensus on Emerson Sensi Touch is that it is effectively a more expensive traditional thermostat that has the added option of remote scheduling. However, some valid questions have been raised about the efficacy of the product. Creating an HVAC schedule is all well and good, but a schedule is only as good as the sensors available with the product.
Poor sensors mean poor temperature regulation, so checking out the performance has been the main task of early buyers. After all, regulating your temperature is as much about comfort as about saving money on your energy bills. If poor sensors send your HVAC system into inefficiency, then you’re almost better off with your standard thermostat.
Thus far, the Sensi Touch has scored well. When the temperature shown on the sensor was compared with the results on a lab-grade thermometer, the Sensi touch performed well and was never really more than a full degree off.
How It Compares
The Emerson Sensi Touch compares to other available products in that it maintains its basic functionality at a time when other products, like Ecobee, are scaling up to more broadly embrace the spirit of the smart home ecosystem.
Whether this is a positive or negative thing depends on your personal preferences: do you want the latest model thermostat with the most potential for functionality? If so, other manufacturers will serve you better. If you’re dead set against participating in the quest for a more connected smart home, then the Sensi Touch provides everything you need.
What We Think
If you’re looking for more control of your home’s HVAC system, but you’re a bit of a technophobe, or you simply don’t think you’ll use the additional features, then the Emerson Sensi Touch is a good starter thermostat.
However, the relatively stable retail price of $200 is high for the value and performance it provides. Without any additional features or a stellar accuracy record, it doesn’t offer great value to homeowners. It’s a solid but average product without any real faults but also without any features to win it recognition.
Coupons and Deals
At the time of publication, we didn’t find any third-party coupons available for the Emerson Sensi Touch.
However, there are a few rebates available from Emerson itself. There are two rebates available for a total of $50 dollars. Emerson’s rebates are not available to everyone: some areas and homes may not qualify for them.