A Canadian company has just announced a new thermostat with built-in Wi-Fi, with the hopes that more homeowners will program their thermostats and reduce energy costs. Ecobee says it created its Smart Thermostat because too many homeowners can't figure out how to properly use their programmable thermostats, which keeps them from extracting more savings from optimizing temperatures.
Ecobee also makes the Smart Thermostat easier to use by giving it a colorful, more PC-like interface (in the form of a 3.5-inch touch screen display) that should encourage creating custom programs. It also features a Quick Save button that will automatically set your settings to conserve energy.
The wireless connection allows you to access your thermostat controls over the Internet via a Web browser. As with other home automation devices, that means you can monitor and adjust the Smart Thermostat from anywhere in the world. The built-in Wi-Fi also lets the unit receive weather forecasts, which homeowners can use to change climate settings accordingly. For those who've already set up home automation systems using Zigbee, Ecobee will offer optional Zigbee expansion slots.
The Smart Thermostat will be available in early 2009 for $385 either through Ecobee's Web site or from select heating and air specialists. Note that even though you can order it directly from Ecobee, the company says it's not a product that should be self-installed.