Sir Francis Bacon is commonly credited for coining the phrase “scientia potentia est” — Latin for “knowledge is power.” Though one might argue that, instead, control is power, particularly in the world of smart home devices, such as WiFi thermostats.
The new ecobee3 smart thermostat does indeed give you greater control over your home’s comfort, while simultaneously saving you energy (and therefore money). But in the spirit of Francis Bacon, ever since shipping their original Smart flagship thermostat in 2009, ecobee has “empowered” its customers with deeper knowledge and insight into their ecobee thermostats’ activities via a feature called Home IQ — a web based historial reporting and analysis tool of their home’s heating and cooling activities.
The original Home IQ allowed homeowners to scroll through minute-by-minute snapshots of exactly what their system was doing in relation to outside and inside temperatures and humidity. With that data, Home IQ provided automated graphs of energy savings over time (how much your A/C run last month vs. the same month last year, for example) and could even anonymously compare your energy usage to other customers. As a geek, my favorite part of the original Home IQ interface was the scrolling activity reports. Here’s what the original Home IQ charts looked like (this is my Utah house’s data from November 16 – 18, 2014):
The red and blue dotted lines on the top 2/3 of the chart show the desired heating and/or cooling set points for a given point in time, while the solid green, pale blue, and black lines show actual measured data (indoor temp, indoor humidity, and outside temp, respectively).
The bars on the bottom third of the chart show what was running on my HVAC system at any given point along the timeline. Light red means Stage 1 Heat was running, dark red is Stage 2 Heat, grey is the system fan, green is the humidifier. By looking at both sections together, you can see that my heating set point was about to jump up on the afternoon of November 17th because the system had been in vacation mode. You can see the heat fire up in anticipation of my arrival, driving the internal temperature up, and the internal humidity down. And for the next 24+ hours, you can see the system periodically fire the heat to keep the internal temperature at my desired set points. Data could also be downloaded in CSV format for separate archival and analysis. Having access to this level of data powerful when it comes to optimizing your system to look for potential energy savings, as well as troubleshooting your system if things aren’t happening like you think they should. Home IQ is one of the “killer apps” for the original ecobee Smart thermostat.
Fast forward to September 2014, when ecobee launched their updated flagship smart thermostat, the ecobee3. ecobee announced that Home IQ (which was also receiving an update) wasn’t quite ready for launch… though they promised customers it would be ready before the end of the year. Last week, ecobee kept that the first part of that promise by releasing their updated version of Home IQ charts (the updated usage comparisons and other system “insights” are still in the works). Here’s a peek at the updated interface:
System activity is now located at the top part of the chart, while the measured data is down bottom. Heat stages are shown in two tones of orange (I assume cool would be shown in some sort of blue). Fan activity is white, and the humidifier is purple.
It’s essentially the same data available in the old interface, with a facelift. With this new interface, I get the sense that ecobee is trying to make the data a little less overwhelming and intimidating by presenting it in this format. Truth be told, I had no problem with the old format, but really I don’t have any problem with the new one, either. The data makes sense, and is easy to scroll through (and zoom in and out) to see what’s going on. I do miss the ability to manually select a specific date range as I could in the old interface, and I’d like to see the ability to zoom “out” more, but perhaps those are features ecobee will add later. Being that Home IQ is a web-based tool, pushing new features to users should be no problem at all.
Downloading the raw data (on which ecobee’s Home IQ charts are based) is still an option, and the download screen also got a major facelift in this new version:
All the data that was available for download from the original Home IQ is still available, along with additional data from wall-mounted and remote temperature and motion sensors (as of the date of this article, one of the users in SmartHomeHub.net ecobee forums noticed that some of the remote sensor data was truncated, but I have it on good authority that the ecobee crew is addressing the issue). Data geeks, knock yourselves out!
One of the things I love about the downloadable data is the ability to see under what circumstances my system went into “Away” mode, based on the motion sensors. Analyzing this data is a great way to figuring out exactly many sensors you need, and to test their ideal location(s) in your house for your “perfect” setup. I’d imagine that further iterations of Home IQ will involve more obvious insight into the remote sensors’ activities. Although, I don’t actually have to imagine it, as it’s already been confirmed by ecobee. Speaking on this initial push of the updated Home IQ, Muhammed Saleem (ecobee’s Sr. Manager of Advocacy) has assured ecobee3 users:
This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as Home IQ features are concerned. We are continuing to work on making additional features available on a rolling basis. We are starting with exposing raw data and as next steps will be layering it with insights and recommendations.
We are working on making wireless remote sensor data visible in the web portal as well as the mobile apps. In the meantime, you can still download wireless remote sensor data (you will get temperature and occupancy information on 5-minute interval basis).
To get a taste of this geeky goodness, I’ve shared a Google Sheet of some of the data from my Utah house. You can launch the spreadsheet directly here, or view it embedded below:
I must admit that I missed this type of data for the couple of months between installing my ecobee3 and ecobee’s release of the updated Home IQ charts, and I’m glad to have it back. I look forward to ecobee adding more functionality to Home IQ as time goes on, and to the additional “power” over my system (and ultimately, savings in my wallet) that comes with such knowledge.
“ecobee scientia potentia est” indeed. 🙂
As always, I welcome your comments and feedback below. I also invite you to join the ecobee conversation over on SmartHomeHub.net, a community-driven forum for discussion and support of ecobee (and other “smart home”) devices.