The Latest Smart Thermostat Knows When You're Away from Home

Illustration for article titled The Latest Smart Thermostat Knows When Youre Away from Home

Smart home thermostats are becoming quite common and, for the Nest at least, downright popular. But most of these systems only monitor from one direction—that is, the user remotely checking the home. The new Wi-Fi-equipped Ecobee 3 system, however, works both ways; the device is watching its watchers with remote sensors.


The Ecobee 3 from same-named manufacturer is designed specifically for larger homes with more than one room. The sleek base unit, replete with a 3.5-inch capacitive touch screen, is augmented by an array of remote sensors connected using the 915MHz frequency. Each of these sensors continually monitor the temperature and occupancies of each room, adjusting the temperature whenever it detects someone arriving or leaving the premises. This behavior is not unlike that of the smart Alba bulbs from last week that adjust their luminance based on the number of people in the room.

What's more, the system employs machine learning algorithms that will automatically squeeze the maximum of climate conditioning efficiency from your home's A/C—cutting your monthly energy expenditures by as much as 23 percent, according to Ecobee, which explains:

This technology understands how your home heats up and cools down, and factors in the local weather to determine the best way to bring your home to your desired temperature at the right time while also minimizing your HVAC equipment use.


So while other models, like the Nest, will learn your routines from weeks of monitoring, the Ecobee 3 can start improving your HVAC performance as soon as you install a sensor. And with multiple sensors, the system has access to more detailed data, which allows it to further minimize hot and cold spots throughout your house. Like other smart thermostats, your Ecobee 3 can be monitored remotely through an iOS or Android mobile app.

The starter set—which includes a thermostat and single remote sensor—will retail for $249 while 2-packs of additional sensors will set you back $80 a pop. They'll be available through and certified HVAC contractors beginning September 29th. Now all you need to do is integrate its room sensors into your home security system and your house will be energy- and entry-secured for the winter holidays.

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I don't understand why anyone would want or need a smart thermostat, and it seems like it would be a long time until they pay for themselves with energy saved. Set your thermostat to 72 in the summer, 68 in the winter, and forget about it. They already sell programmable thermostats for under $100 so I don't see any purpose for smart thermostats except for technology addicts who can't go more than 10 seconds without checking their smart phone.