Someone adjusting a smart thermostat to eco-mode
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Climate control, cost down

What Is Eco-Mode on Smart Thermostats?

Kimberly Hutchings
February 27, 2024

Did you know that over 40 percent of our annual utility spending can be attributed to the money we put towards heating and cooling our homes? It's true — and those costs can add up, totaling nearly $900 yearly for the average American household.

The unfortunate truth is that HVAC spending is unavoidable in our day-to-day lives, but the good news? Technology has come a long way in helping us do it efficiently!

Take the smart thermostat, for example. According to ENERGY STAR, a smart thermostat can save you as much as $100 each year on heating and cooling, and nowadays, many models include an eco mode that can help you take those savings even further!

Here's what you need to know.

What Is a Smart Thermostat?

Before we dive into things, let's start with the basics. If you're new to smart home technology, you might be wondering, 'What is a smart thermostat anyway?'

A smart thermostat is a Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat device that connects to your smart tech (like a phone or tablet) through the Internet of Things (IoT), allowing you to adjust and monitor your home's temperature using an app whether you're at home or on the go.

What Is Eco-Mode On A Smart Thermostat?

Having more control over your heating and cooling routines can equate to some significant energy (and financial) savings — but how do you know your maximizing your routines?

This is where eco-mode comes in.

A staple feature of many smart thermostat devices, eco modes use machine learning to automate your energy-saving routines so that you can keep your home comfortable without the constant need to modify — just set it, forget it, and let your thermostat do the rest!

These settings often work by having you select preferred temperatures for when you’re at home and away. Once your preferred temperatures are set, your thermostat can adjust independently based on your daily routines.

Often, these energy-saving modes use sensors or geofencing capabilities to automatically detect your presence, but you can also build recurring schedules in your smart thermostat app that suit your routines (such as letting your device know the hours you're typically at work or asleep).

It's important to note that these eco modes aren't always as helpful if you have pets at home, as you'll need to keep them comfortable, too! But they can be hugely beneficial in helping you reach your energy-saving goals if your home is left empty for extended periods of time.

Another reason eco mode is great? Time-of-Use (ToU) plans!

If you're on a ToU electrical plan, meaning that electricity costs more during certain times of the day, eco settings on your smart thermostat can help you optimize your heating and cooling schedules to work hardest during the times of day when electricity is cheapest — win!

Choosing The Right Temperature For Eco-Mode

Now, we know what you're probably thinking, 'This all sounds great, but what exactly is an optimal temperature for my smart thermostat's eco-mode?'

The truth is, it largely comes down to personal preference and a number of factors, including your local climate and the construction of your house. But, asking yourself a few simple questions can help you decide on the temperature that best suits your needs.

Consider the following recommended prompts from Google Nest:

  • What temperatures have you set your thermostat to in the past?

Use these numbers as your base! Then, try to set it a few degrees cooler than you previously would have during colder months and a few degrees warmer during the summer. From there, make minor adjustments until you find the right temperatures for you!

  • What are the lowest and highest temperatures you'd be comfortable with?

If you really want to amplify your energy savings, this is a quick way to dial things up. Consider the warmest and coolest temperatures you'd be comfortable with, and set your thermostat's eco mode accordingly. Just remember to consider important variables like pets, plants, and other people when making your decision!

Choosing A Smart Thermostat For Your Home

Have we sold you on the benefits of eco-mode yet? Awesome!

But what if you don't have a smart thermostat? The great news is, as far as smart tech goes, they're pretty simple to set up, and choosing a good one is just as easy. Start by looking for the ENERGY STAR stamp of approval.

ENERGY STAR products are designed to work the same if not better than their traditional counterparts but with the bonus of helping you save energy while getting the job done! There are plenty of ENERGY STAR-certified smart thermostats on the market today, and you can find a list of all of them by looking through the ENERGY STAR database here.

Another important consideration? If you're an OhmConnect user, you’ll want to ensure your smart thermostat is compatible with our rewards program so you can reap even more benefits from your energy-saving efforts. We've listed a few of our favorite OhmConnect-compatible smart thermostats down below!

Not an OhmConnect member yet? What are you waiting for? Signing up is free — click here to learn more and get started today!

Our Smart Thermostat Picks For 2024

Google Nest Smart Thermostat

OhmConnect Compatible? Yes

ENERGY STAR-Certified? Yes

Why we love it:

  • Eco mode allows you to adjust temperatures automatically when you leave the house — you'll see a small green leaf icon next to a temperature when it's saving you energy!
  • You can control your home's temperature from anywhere using the Google Home app.
  • It can be installed in less than 30 minutes.
  • Quick Scheduling functionality allows you to build, adjust, and automate routines in minimal time.
  • The thermostat's Savings Finder automatically looks for additional ways you can save energy and recommends adjustments you can make to your schedule.

ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium

OhmConnect Compatible? Yes

ENERGY STAR-Certified? Yes

Why we love it:

  • eco+ mode automatically works in the background to maximize efficiency with built-in occupancy sensors that adjust to your ideal temperatures based on whether you're home or away.
  • Time of Use settings intelligently preheat and cool during the times of day when electricity is cheaper.
  • A feature called Community Energy Savings makes slight adjustments during times of peak demand in your neighborhood to help reduce strain on the grid without compromising on your comfort.
  • There are options for Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa to be built in.
  • If you have an ecobee Smart Security system, you can use the smart thermostat as an additional base station and keypad.

Sensi Touch 2 Smart Thermostat

OhmConnect Compatible? Yes

ENERGY STAR-Certified? Yes

Why we love it:

  • Flexible scheduling, remote access, and usage reports support up to 23 percent energy savings each year.
  • Easy DIY installation works with the HVAC equipment found in most existing homes.
  • A simple design and easy-to-follow interface and app make this smart thermostat one of the most user-friendly for smart tech newbies.
  • It can be paired with Sensi room sensors to reduce hot and cold spots and prioritize heating and cooling where needed most.
  • Smart maintenance features monitor the performance of your HVAC equipment and send alerts/service reminders to keep things running at their best.

Want to know more about smart thermostats before getting started? Check out our complete beginner's guide by clicking here.

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