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Published on July 28th, 2012 | by Greg

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Ecobee: A Better Thermostat

Re­cent­ly, there have been some ma­jor im­prove­ments in home au­toma­tion, a cat­e­go­ry that was feel­ing a lit­tle stat­ic. Not long ago, smart pow­er me­ters were promis­ing a con­nect­ed house­hold with eco-friend­ly re­sults and cost sav­ings for con­sumers, but a va­ri­ety of tech­ni­cal is­sues have left that dream,  for the most part, un­re­al­ized. Most house­holds still don’t use re­mote-con­trolled out­lets or light­ing, de­spite (or per­haps be­cause of) the num­ber of so­lu­tions on the mar­ket- Zig­bee and X-10, Z-wave and In­steon. We’ve checked out a few of these sys­tems, and still hold out hope for the fu­ture though.

And one of the lat­est gad­gets to make us op­ti­mistic are smart ther­mostats. For in­stance, we’re fans of theecobee Smart Si Ther­mo­stat, a wi-fi en­abled, smart­phone-con­trol­lable ther­mo­stat that is Zig­bee-com­pat­i­ble and easy to use. In New York City dur­ing the sum­mer, cen­tral air is of key im­por­tance in mak­ing sure that we ac­tu­al­ly can get any work done, but old­er ther­mostats weren’t very good at reg­u­lat­ing the tem­per­a­ture. We reg­u­lar­ly had to ad­just it man­u­al­ly, and try­ing to pro­gram it would take a man­u­al, plus there was no easy way to ex­am­ine the set­tings, much less ad­just them from afar.

The ecobee isn’t per­fect- the us­er in­ter­face isn’t quite as slick as, say, some Ap­ple prod­ucts. But it’s so­phis­ti­cat­ed and of­fers tons of con­fig­u­ra­tion op­tions. You can set­up modes like awake, away, home, sleep, or cre­ate va­ca­tion set­tings, and we loved the unit dis­play, with sim­ple read­outs of in­door and out­door tem­per­a­ture. There isn’t a touch­screen on this mod­el, but it didn’t seem nec­es­sary, since we could use our smart­phones or tablets to ad­just set­tings. No an­nu­al fees, and re­mote ac­ces­si­bil­i­ty made this an easy-to-like ther­mo­stat. In­stal­la­tion isn’t too bad- there are four wires for air con­di­tion­ing and per­haps a bit of work to mount it, but it’s straight for­ward enough that most peo­ple can prob­a­bly do it them­selves.

The de­sign looks sleek, if a bit tra­di­tion­al, but should fit in most any home or apart­ment. And na­tive apps for both An­droid and iOS de­vices are free. We def­i­nite­ly ap­pre­ci­ate the ecobee, and you will to- es­pe­cial­ly if you want to man­age your home tem­per­a­ture in an eco-friend­ly way. Avail­able now, on­line and in stores, for the fair­ly rea­son­able price of $200 or so.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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