Ecobee Smart Thermostat Enhanced

Ecobee Smart Thermostat Enhanced

Ecobee
Wi-Fi Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 9, 2022

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Somewhat creepy

Ecobee now has three smart thermostats in their line up -- the Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium, Smart Thermostat Enhanced, and the Ecobee3 Lite. Their Enhanced version comes with most of the things the Premium version does, minus some things that actually make it a little better for privacy. The Enhanced version doesn’t have the built-in smart speaker/microphone, so it’s not going to be listening to you. That means it also won’t stream your music on Spotify, which feels OK to us. I mean, do you really need to listen to music through your thermostat? The Enhanced version also doesn’t come with hands-free calling or the indoor air quality monitor. Fewer bells and whistles makes it a bit better for your privacy.

Ecobee's SmartThermostat Enhanced can still do lots of smart thermostat things like adjust the temperature from your phone, sense when you leave a room to turn down the temperature, and save energy with smart algorithms. In 2021, Generac bought Ecobee as part of their plans to expand into the “intelligent home energy ecosystem.” So far, this acquisition doesn’t seem to have changed Ecobee’s strong commitment to privacy. Here’s hoping it never does.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Hey look, a smart home tech maker that seems to value their users’ privacy. It’s nice to see. The first point in Ecobee’s privacy policy is what we wish all companies would say and do: “Your personal information and data belongs to you.” Good work Ecobee! They also say, “If we collect it, we safeguard it.” Another good work ecobee! The thing is, many companies crow about how much they care and protect their users’ privacy. Too many times this crowing is empty words written by PR departments. For Ecobee though, we really do think they are pretty good at protecting and respecting their users’ privacy (especially compared to many of the Big Tech companies out there).

Ecobee does collect personal information on you. Things like name, address, email, telephone number, online identifiers such as IP addresses and device IDs, location information, as well as things the smart thermostat learns about your home like thermal and house size information. That’s potentially a lot of information gathered. The good news is, Ecobee says they never sell your personal data. And they don’t seem to share your personal information with third parties for targeted, interest based advertising, which is also good. So, all that data this smart thermostat collects on you probably isn’t going to be shared around the internet to target you with tons of ads to buy sweaters because you keep your house so cold all winter long (we hope).

The biggest privacy concern you’ll likely find with this smart thermostat is with the third party voice assistants you can use it with. The voice requests you make through Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple’s Siri of your smart thermostat will let Amazon, Google, or Apple know more about you. But hey, Amazon, Google, and Apple probably know way too much about you already.

Ecobee reportedly also stood up to Amazon when they demanded Ecobee share more user data with them. From The Verge, “...the online retail giant asked Ecobee to share data from its Alexa-enabled smart thermostats, even when the customer wasn’t actively using the voice assistant. Ecobee reportedly refused to have its devices constantly report back to Amazon about the state of the user’s home, including data on which doors were locked or unlocked and the set temperature. The reasoning being that enabling its devices to report this data to Amazon would be a violation of its customer’s trust.” Good Ecobee. Bad Amazon.

Ecobee does ask users if they would like to donate their anonymized data from their smart thermostat to share with energy scientists to help “design more efficient and sustainable homes.” That seems good on a couple fronts. First, Ecobee asks users to donate their data with an opt-in rather than opt-out option. Second, the goal of this data sharing is a good one, not to target you with ads, but to help scientists save the planet. Again, good work Ecobee!

What’s the worst that could happen with your Ecobee Smart Thermostat Enhanced? This smart thermostat (like the Premium version) does have built-in radar occupancy sensors that know when you are home and moving around. If that data were to accidentally leak out onto the internet through a hack or bug it could let others know when you are home, and potentially where in the home you are. That could be creepy information to have in the hands of people you don’t know…or even people you do know. This probably isn’t likely to happen. Still, good to remember it could. All in all though, Ecobee is one of the best smart thermostat makers out there from a privacy perspective.

Tips to protect yourself

  • If you connect to Alexa, delete your historical voice recordings from time to time, by saying “delete what I just said"
  • When starting a sign-up, do not agree to tracking of your data.
  • Do not sign up with third-party accounts. Better just log in with email and strong password.
  • Chose a strong password! You may use a password control tool like 1Password, KeePass etc
  • Use your device privacy controls to limit access to your personal information via app (do not give access to your camera, microphone, images, location unless neccessary)
  • Keep your app regularly updated
  • Limit ad tracking via your device (eg on iPhone go to Privacy -> Advertising -> Limit ad tracking) and biggest ad networks (for Google, go to Google account and turn off ad personalization)
  • Request your data be deleted once you stop using the app. Simply deleting an app from your device usually does not erase your personal data.
mobile Privacy warning Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: No

App: No

Microphone

Device: No

App: Yes

Tracks location

Device: No

App: Yes

What can be used to sign up?

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Ecobee does not sell nor shares personal data for advertisement.

"If you agree to participate in ecobee’s Donate Your Data, you will be anonymously sharing your Device Data with ecobee’s research partners. Your Personal Information will not be shared. ecobee’s research partners will protect your data in accordance with this Privacy Agreement. For more information, see ecobee.com/donateyourdata."

How can you control your data?

It is unclear if all users regardless of location can get their data deleted.

"If you do not wish ecobee to have a copy of your Personal Information, you can request its removal by visiting Profile in your ecobee mobile app, where you can select “Delete my account”. Or you can request its removal by contacting ecobee Customer Service at 1.877.932.6233 or by submitting a request on our Personal Information Management page. In order to protect your access to the ecobee Services and to guard against mischief or theft, ecobee may contact you to confirm your request and may request additional Personal Information solely for the purpose of authenticating the legitimacy of the request. Following such a request, ecobee will delete all Personal Information that it is not required to retain for the purposes of regulatory, tax, insurance, litigation or other legal requirements. ecobee may also retain such data for the purposes of safety, security, fraud prevention and detection.

As your Personal Information may include your email address, any ecobee Account Data associated with this email address must also be deleted. Due to the nature of Internet-connected devices, deletion of this ecobee Account Data will remove the ability to remotely control your ecobee Devices via the web or mobile app. Some of your ecobee Devices’ smart features may also be reduced or removed. ecobee Devices will continue to provide basic functionality (i.e., as a thermostat or light switch), but without remote access or smart features. Remote access and smart functionality can be restored by creation of a new ecobee account, but all previously-collected Device Data and settings will have been permanently deleted."

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Average

No known incidents in the last 3 years.

Can this product be used offline?

No

User-friendly privacy information?

No

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

All network traffic is encrypted.

Strong password

Yes

A password is required for the web portal and mobile app.

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Ecobee runs a bug bounty program, which means that anyone who finds a security issue and discloses it responsibly may get paid.

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Yes

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

Ecobee smart thermostats have a feature called eco+. It leverages AI to tailor temperature settings, transition to clean energy when available, and optimize cost savings.

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Yes

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Yes

Features such as eco+ are opt in.
*privacy not included

Dive Deeper

  • Generac Announces the Closing of Its Acquisition of ecobee Inc.
    Ecobee
  • Ecobee’s new thermostats are its best yet
    The Verge
  • The Privacy Risks of Your Smart Thermostat
    VPN Overview
  • ecobee vs Nest: Don’t Overlook These 9 Crucial Differences
    The Smart Cave
  • Donate your data
    Ecobee
  • Amazon tried to coerce Ecobee into collecting private user data, the WSJ reports
    The Verge
  • Ecobee’s smart thermostat now supports Siri voice control
    Engadget
  • The Best Smart Thermostat
    New York Times
  • Generator company Generac announces plans to buy Ecobee
    CNET

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