We’ve been living in our current house for a little over a year now, and I decided to replace the cheap, standard thermostats that the builder installed on each of the three floors during construction about two months ago with the Ecobee 3 smart thermostat. The Ecobees were relatively easy to install, and the company even has a compatibility checker on their website to advise for your specific situation. In my case, it was a straight swap out using the existing wires, and took about 10 minutes per thermostat.
The ecobee 3 has wi-fi built in, and automatically joins your wireless home network using your smartphone to configure it after creating an account on ecobee.com. The ecobee 3 also has a motion sensing touch screen display, and not only knows when you’re in the room (more about the “follow me” function later), it senses when you walk up to it and brings up the configuration shortcut menus! Configuration was fast and intuitive, taking about 5 minutes per thermostat, each of which registered with my free ecobee.com account for consolidated management of my home from anywhere (including from my iPhone and Apple Watch or voice control via my Amazon Echo Dot)!
The main reason that anyone would spend several hundred dollars on a smart thermostat is ironically to save money! The ecobee 3 provides a lot of great features that ultimately result in quantifiable savings, and the management interface looks consistently the same across the web, mobile devices, the thermostat’s touch screen, and the Apple Watch. In the screen shot below, you can see that I have 3 thermostats, and I’m currently looking at the “Living Room”. The ecobee 3 can be set to Cool, Heat, Auto, or Off, and you can see that I have my living room set to Auto, with the heat threshold set at 65° and the air conditioning threshold at 70°. It’s February, and I live in Murrells Inlet, SC, so the average temperature in the living room hovers around 68° on it’s own this time of year – it’s 53° outside today. The ecobee 3 knows where I live, and tracks how it’s usage statistics are affected by the outside weather (screen shot of that later).
Each of the blocks on the dashboard provide drill down details that facilitate real time management of the thermostat in addition to reporting and recommendations. I find “Home IQ” the most useful. After the ecobee 3 has been in use for about a month, it will have collected enough data to provide insight about your usage. Clicking Home IQ in the web portal brings up the previous month’s data, along with community comparison, home efficiency rating, and recommendations for improvement! ecobee uses a 72° benchmark by which to measure your performance and generate your percentage saved, and rates your efficiency based on other ecobee users in your area! I saved 53% in January compared to a standard thermostat set at a constant 72°, and was in the top 19% of my community for efficiency.
When I drill down into my January Monthly Report, I can see exactly how much money I saved based on my settings compared to a standard thermostat set to 72°. In my case, I saved $33.81 last month, and I’ve saved $61.87 (based on average price per kilowatt for SC), since installing the ecobee 3 in late November 2016. Given that I paid $250 for the thermostat / remote sensor bundle, it will have paid for itself in power bill savings in about 7 months! To quantify actual savings, my November 2016 power bill was $220.90, and after installing three ecobee 3 thermostats on November 23rd, my December 2016 power bill was $156.78, January 2017 was $170.56, and February 2017 was $171.24, all significantly less AND during the coldest winter months! I’ve only been in the house for a year so I don’t have exact month to month comparison points yet, but I’m a believer already.
By comparison to SC averages, my home and settings are more efficient than 53% of the state. I can compare home, away, and nighttime schedule settings for both heat and cool to see how I compare, and make changes to my schedules to save even more.
The ecobee 3 also provides detailed reports showing how outdoor temperature affects heat and cool settings per thermostat. You can see in the report below that my nighttime schedule sets the temp range from 68-73° and at 6am my home schedule changes the range to 65-70°. That’s because it typically gets colder at night in the winter so I want the heat to come on sooner at night as the temp drops, and then change the range at sunrise so the air will come on if it warms up too much during the day. In general, you can see our home’s inside temperature stays right in the center of the range.
One of the coolest features of the ecobee 3 is that it comes with one remote motion detecting temperature sensor, and supports up to 32 remote sensors per thermostat, so I could balance and track my entire home with up to 96 sensors if I wanted to go crazy. In the screen shot below, I can see both the living room thermostat and the master bedroom sensor attached to it wirelessly, their real time temperatures and the average temperature on a time graph. The green and blue bars show when each sensor detects motion. The ecobee 3 has a “Follow Me” feature, that allows you to make climate control changes instantly based on which room you’re in. Want to make sure it’s always 70° when you’re in the master bedroom and let it drop to 65° when you’re not? No problem, the ecobee 3 will know when you’re in there and make it happen.
ecobee 3 has many detailed reports, and I find the Weather Impact report pretty interesting. Get a quick bar graph showing how the outdoor temperature affects the thermostat. Temperature is on the left and relates to the outdoor temp line. Cool and Heat stage bars relate to the time frame on the right, showing how many hours the heat or air ran in relation to the outdoor temperature.
You can manage every remote sensor connected to each ecobee 3 thermostat directly through the web portal, smart phone app, Apple Watch, or the thermostat’s touch screen. This is where you enable or disable Follow Me at each sensor, or disable the sensor during specific schedules.
Location detection is configured during initial setup and ecobee 3 pulls information from the National Weather Service, so it can also give you detailed forecast information!
One of the coolest features of the ecobee 3 is the ability to schedule vacations in advance. So that cruise that you booked 9 months ahead of time or house you reserved in the Virgin Islands for next summer? Go ahead and lock the dates into your thermostat, set the heat and cool thresholds, and forget about it. ecobee 3 will automatically make the changes when you leave and set them back to normal when you get home.
As if all of THAT wasn’t enough… ecobee 3 works seamlessly with Amazon Echo and Echo Dot for voice control of your home’s climate. I have 4 Echo Dots in my house, and after installing the ecobee skill for Alexa, voice control just worked. I was amazed. Saying, “Alexa, set the living room to 72°” will result in one of two actions. If ecobee 3 is in “Auto” mode, Alexa will respond with, “Living Room is set to auto mode, setting range to result in 72° average temperature.”, which will likely set the lower heat threshold to 69° and the air conditioning threshold to 74°. If ecobee 3 is in either heat or cool mode, Alexa will respond with, “Setting Living Room to 72°.”, which will set the ecobee 3 to 72° for either heat or air, whichever mode you have it set to. Saying, “Alexa, return the living room to normal temperature.” will set the ecobee 3 back to normal schedule. Simple, yet powerful, and configuration of Echo Dot via the Alexa iPhone app literally took 2 minutes.
I LOVE the ecobee 3 thermostat if you can’t tell. Thinking about getting one and have questions? Leave a comment or drop me an email. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on home automation and will be writing many more pages like this, so if you want to hear more, subscribe below!