Just a few short years ago programmable thermostats were so badly designed that the EPA halted the Energy Star Certification for these devices. They were supposed to save energy. Instead, they drove us crazy, loony, nuts, bananas, and bonkers in a way that otherwise only a cable company can.
Then along came the start thermostats. First there was the original Ecobee from Canada. Then there was the Nest from the ex-Apple guys. Here's a shameless plug of me on FOX News Energy Team showing off these smart stats when they first arrived on shelves. Then there were all the imitators from the old school thermostat companies (but they still haven't caught up).
Nest and Ecobee have both stepped up their game, improving already fabulous products. You can read my thoughts on the beautiful upgrade of the Nest 3 here: The New Nest 3 Thermostat.
Not to be outdone, Ecobee also has it's model 3 on store shelves. The sleek black front with sharp, clean white graphics is a welcome aesthetic improvement. The new app and desktop interface is where the new version shines. It is gloriously easy to use, yet it has plenty of space for geeks like me to take a deep dive into data to help save energy.
Old school thermostats have a temperature gauge only on the stat itself. Typically, thermostats are in lousy places to accurately measure the temperature, and therefore the comfort, of your home. My wife once noted that a friends house was incredibly cold. But when she looked at the thermostat, near the furnace, the thermostat was set to 75 degrees. Sure it was 78 degrees near the furnace, but it was much colder in the rest of the house.
Ecobee has solved this problem by adding a remote temperature sensor that you can place in any room in the house. If you want to be sure that your baby's room is a cozy 68 degrees, then you can set the Ecobee3 to tell the furnace to keep heating until that room is the right temperature.
But wait, there's more.
The Ecobee has a Follow Me function. Both the remote sensor and the sensor in the thermostat can tell the furnace or a/c which rooms are occupied. It will set the furnace only to the desired temperature of the occupied rooms.
As with the original smart thermostats, the new models can be controlled from your cell phone or computer from anywhere in the world. The Ecobee 3 can now be controlled using the Apple Watch, an iPad or smart home hubs including Apple's Home Kit, Wink, and Samsung's SmartThings. You can then program If This Then That statements (IFTTT) to adjust the thermostat to fit your lifestyle. For example, you can connect your smart hub to sensors on your windows. Then simply program IF the windows are opened (THIS), THEN turn off the A/C (THAT). Pretty darn cool.
The geo fencing feature allows you to set a scene based on your location through your cell phone. Suppose you lower the thermostat while you're at work each day. But one day you get a call to come pick up your sick kid at school. The last thing you need to worry about is having to reset the thermostat. Geofencing allows you to program the thermostat to reset to the comfortable temperature when it senses that you're on your way home. No worries; the house is cozy when you get home and you still saved energy while you were gone.
I can't wait to see what's next.
Learn more about IFTTT statements here.