Smart home thermostat company Ecobee today rolled out Eco+, a free suite of machine learning features, to all its thermostats with voice control. The other 1.5 million users with an Ecobee3, Ecobee3 lite, and Ecobee4 will get Eco+ starting in January 2020. Eco+ uses machine learning to tailor temperature settings and cut costs. It also helps you further reduce energy consumption and move to clean energy.
In July 2018, Ecobee kicked off a pilot called Peak Relief that aims to save energy and money by automatically heating or cooling your home when electricity is less expensive. Ecobee then expanded on that pilot with Eco+, which puts an AI engine inside your thermostat. The Eco+ suite predicts future energy needs based on weather forecasting, occupancy patterns, humidity, and electricity costs. Like the pilot, Eco+ looks at time of use rates to lower your electricity bill and optimize your home’s energy use.
Earlier this year, Ecobee rolled out Eco+ to 95,000 thermostats, 75,000 of which enabled the feature during Q3 2019. The company estimates that in those three months, the 75,000 thermostats saved enough energy to power nearly 1,200 homes for a year.
Eco+ comprises five major features. The first is Smart Home & Away, which existed before Eco+ was conceived. Now part of Eco+, it detects when you’re not home even faster than before and automatically adjusts your thermostat to save energy.
Schedule Assistant analyzes your existing schedule and compares it with occupancy patterns. Using sensors, Ecobee thermostats can detect when people are home. Machine learning lets Eco+ map out patterns of when people are home. Eco+ then makes schedule change recommendations to optimize electricity use and reduce your energy usage.
Feels Like measures the humidity levels in your home and adjusts temperature settings accordingly. This is really a human body hack — humidity makes high temperatures feel hotter and low temperatures feel cooler.
Time of Use preheats or precools your home when renewable energy is plentiful and/or electricity is cheaper. If your utility company has time of use rates, the Ecobee home screen displays an icon during peak times. You can then decide when to run energy-intensive appliances like a washing machine or dishwasher.
Finally, Community Energy Savings is for customers with participating utility providers. The feature makes small adjustments during times of peak energy demand in a community. The goal is to use cleaner energy and reduce strain on the energy grid.