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Carrier Cor Heats Up Smart Thermostat Market

LAS VEGAS — Carrier, a company synonymous with home heating and cooling systems, is looking to take on the likes of Nest and Honeywell with the Cor, a $250 smart thermostat. Available through dealer channels, Carrier hopes that its expertise in home environmental controls will give its thermostat an advantage over competing systems.

Unlike the circular Nest Learning Thermostat and the Honeywell Lyric, the Cor has a squarish shape that nonetheless looks attractive. Its face has a 4-inch touchscreen bordered by a black bezel, and the sides have a metallic finish. The Cor's on-screen interface is straightforward and easy to navigate, and will guide novices through setting up a heating and cooling schedule for their home.

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Where Carrier thinks it has the advantage over other thermostats is in its detailed usage reports. Through its iPad app, the Cor will generate monthly statistics that show the homeowner how much he or she saves in utility bills versus a traditional non-programmable thermostat; a month-by-month comparison detailing why heating and cooling bills were higher in one month than another; and a community comparison, which can show how energy use differs from those of neighbors also using the Cor.

Also in the app are expert tips, suggestions that will help the homeowner save money while still maintaining a similar comfort level. For example, the Cor might notice that your neighbors cool their homes to 66 degrees, while you cool yours to 63 degrees. Alongside each tip is a button to implement or ignore it.

For the truly stats-obsessed, Cor Insights will provide a minute-by-minute breakdown of the temperature, humidity, thermostat settings and HVAC-system cycle. Of course, the Cor can be remotely controlled via a smartphone app, whose interface mimics that of its on-screen display.

The Cor will begin shipping in January, and should be widely available through Carrier dealers by February. Unlike other smart thermostats, Carrier feels that the Cor should be installed by professionals, to minimize the risk of a homeowner burning out the electronics in his or her heating and cooling system.

Michael A. Prospero is the deputy editor at Tom’s Guide. He oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories, but also tests out the latest standing desks, webcams, drones, and electric scooters. He has worked at Tom's Guide for many a year; before that, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight or chagrin of his family.