Ecobee SmartThermostat

Ecobee SmartThermostat

Ecobee
Wi-Fi Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 8, 2021

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Somewhat creepy

Here's a smart thermostat that can basically do it all—change the temperature, call your friends, play music, control other smart devices, and adapt to your routine. Ecobee's SmartThermostat can also do smart thermostats things like adjust the temperature from your phone, use room sensors to manage hot and cold spots, and save energy with smart algorithms. It has Amazon Alexa built in, a way to control it with a flick of your Apple Watch clad wrist, and occupancy sensors so it knows which rooms are in use and which aren't. Is it possible for a thermostat to be too smart? If so, you can get the cheaper Ecobee3 Lite and make calls from, you know, your phone. It was announced in November, 2021 that a new company, Generac, has plans to buy Ecobee. Stay tuned for what that means for your privacy.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Hey look, a smart home tech maker that seems to really, truly value their users’ privacy. It’s so nice to see. The first point in their privacy policy is what we wish all companies would say and do: “Your Personal Information and the data created by your ecobee Devices belong to you. You have the right to have a copy your (sic) Personal Information and Device Data at any time, and to be forgotten if you so choose.” Good work ecobee!

These smart thermostats know which room you're in and if you ask Alexa a bunch of questions. There's nothing terrible about either of those things, just be aware that your thermostat could potentially know a lot about you. Any voice requests you make of Alexa through your smart thermostat (what a weird statement) will let Amazon know more about you, of course. But hey, Amazon probably knows way too much about you already.

Ecobee reportedly also stood up to Amazon when they demanded they 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 many fronts. Ecobee asks users to donate their data with an opt-in option to help scientists help save the planet. Again, good work ecobee!

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."
mobile Privacy Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: No

App: No

Microphone

Device: Yes

App: No

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 can use your personal data for its energy usage or demand response program. With Donate Your Data, customers can also opt in to share anonymized data from the smart thermostat with scientists and researchers at leading institutions with energy and sustainability focused research projects.

How can you control your data?

Customers can download their data to see what we have stored at any point via our customer portal. Customers can delete their data. Amongst other things, Ecobee comply with CCPA, which requires that we offer customers the ability to delete their data. Retention will vary depending on the type of data. Typically this will be the lifespan of their account.

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.

News

Donate your data
Ecobee
Sharing anonymized data from your ecobee smart thermostat can help scientists advance the way to a sustainable future.
Amazon tried to coerce Ecobee into collecting private user data, the WSJ reports
The Verge
Amazon tried to use its power to coerce Ecobee into using its smart home products to collect user data by threatening Ecobee’s ability to sell its products on Amazon, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Ecobee’s smart thermostat now supports Siri voice control
Engadget
Ecobee has started rolling out an update that brings Siri to the SmartThermostat.
The Best Smart Thermostat
New York Times
A smart thermostat does the thinking you don’t want to do. It can learn your schedule, turn itself down when nobody is home, and balance temperatures around your home to make you comfier while using less energy (talk about win-win).
Generator company Generac announces plans to buy Ecobee
CNET
Generac's purchase of the smart thermostat company is expected to close by the end of 2021.

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