In this weekly column, hosts Brandon Doyle, Doyle Real Estate Team with RE/MAX Results, and Colton Pratt, project manager, walk through smart-home products and showcase their capabilities while reviewing pros and cons. 

Amid the coronavirus crisis, it’s no surprise that clients’ home tastes are evolving based on the changing needs and demands of this new world. So, now might be a good time to get acquainted with smart home tech. Which is why today, we’re taking a closer look at Ecobee.

Ecobee is a smart thermostat that competes with the more widely known Nest. It doesn’t have as much brand awareness, however it’s arguably a superior product.

The major benefit to any smart thermostat is that you can automate schedules and control the temperature remotely in order to save money on your utility bills. There is no sense in heating or cooling your home when you aren’t there.

Both options have features that will automatically adjust temperature or change mode. Nest does this through learning, while Ecobee has schedules and an option to create a geofence around your home. It uses the app on your phone to determine when you’re away.

Ecobee has optional sensors, which can be placed around your home to detect occupancy and temperature in an area. That way, your home’s heating and cooling needs are adjusted based on the room you’re using and an overall average of the temperature throughout your home, which may vary from room to room and level to level.

The newest versions of Ecobee have Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant built in, which could be a nice perk if you don’t already have an echo nearby. All of the versions, including the Ecobee and Nest, will integrate with your voice assistant. So, if having that built right into the thermostat isn’t important to you, there’s an opportunity to save money.

Installation is straightforward. You’ll want to match the colored wires from your previous thermostat to the new one, and follow instructions on the screen. For homes with multizone controllers, humidifiers or heat sources other than forced air, you’ll want to check the box to ensure compatibility.

Homeowners who are already using Google or Nest products may prefer to stick with the same brand so they’re able to access everything from one app. That said, Ecobee does integrate with other third-party smart home devices and apps such as Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit and SmartThings.

Brandon Doyle is a Realtor at Doyle Real Estate Team — Re/Max Results in Minneapolis and co-author of Mindset, Methods & Metrics – Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent. You can follow him on Twitter.

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