Be Smarter With Your Energy

It’s Spring in Maryland which means back and forth weather – there are hot, humid days and cool nights. Your turning you thermostat up and down, AC and heat on and off. If you don’t have a Smart thermostat, it can become extremely frustrating if you forget to turn it on or off.

There are several smart thermostats out there. However, the two that are most talked about and that are comparable in price and features are The Nest and Ecobee4. Let’s take a look at what makes them so popular.

Feature: Temperature Settings

The Nest

Learning: The Nest prides itself on the ability to learn from your temperature settings over time, so you don’t have to program anything. After a few days of observing your habits, for instance if you continuously set temp to 68 degrees at night before bed, it will begin to do so automatically.


Scheduling: Ecobee does not learn your temperature preferences on its own. It does, however, store information to adjust the temperature accordingly. You can preset your preferred temperatures, for when you are home, asleep or away. If you input your calendar, it can make necessary adjustments. This is helpful when you and your family go out of town. If it’s in your calendar and your calendar is syncing to Ecobee, you don’t even need to turn down your thermostat, Ecobee does it automatically. It will also turn back on when you’re a few hours from home to have the house nice warm or cool for you upon returning.

Feature: Additional Ways to Save

The Nest

Seasonal Savings: Nest offers an additional service to adjust temperature for you to help you save money. Depending on availability in your location and if you qualify for and opt-in to the service, the Nest will use your preferences and data from your utility provider to make temperature adjustments, which will reduce your energy use and bill even more.


Room Sensors: If you live in a larger home, multiple rooms and especially floors, the room sensors are an ideal way to save money. Both Nest and Ecobee offer the sensors to set different temps, the Ecobee has a built-in occupant sensor or “Follow Me” feature. This means, Ecobee knows when you are in which room and where to focus the air or heat. Think about living in a 3-story home and your family is in the basement. The Ecobee sensor knows to focus turning on the heat in the basement and limits the energy going to the other 2 stories that are unoccupied. The same is true for heating or cooling the bedrooms on the third floor at night. If the sensors notice that nobody is in the house for over 2 hours, “Away Mode” kicks on to save energy.

Feature: Software

The Nest

Google All the Way: The Nest is a Google product, which means it does not play well with iPhones, iPads, Siri, and anything else Apple-related. In order for the geofencing (a fancy term for settings that allows your smart devices to know where you and other users are to control settings) feature to work, everyone in the household needs the Nest app installed.


Apple and iEverything: Ecobee work with HomeKit, and can be controlled via Siri, the Home app, and by swiping up from the bottom of your iPhone. If you have a gateway, or an iPad, HomePod and AppleTV, and everyone in your household uses an iPhone, geofencing is easier because Ecobee app doesn’t need to be on anyone’s phone for the thermostat to know the house is empty.

Feature: Compatibility with HVAC Systems

The Nest

Here’s a quick way to find out if your HVAC system is compatible with The Nest.


Of course, Ecobee has a super easy way to test if your HVAC system is compatible also.

Feature: Setup

The Nest

It Doesn’t Get Any Easier: The Nest has a built-in battery, which eliminates any hassles associated with a c-wire (or “common wire”). It includes on-screen step-by-step instructions to setup. It also has a checklist of things to do, like testing the cooling system. If you have any trouble, there are also troubleshooting steps.


No Built-in Battery: This means you must either, a) have the c-wire, or b) must install the included power-extender kit. Installation for the power extender kit may be a challenge depending on how far away your thermostat is from your furnace.

Feature: Reporting

The Nest

Detailed Reports to Your Inbox: Each month, the Nest sends out a Home Report with lots of stats on more than just energy use. It includes month-to-month comparisons, why did your energy use change, tallies your “Leafs” (or times you have selected an energy-efficient temperature), alerts if your furnace is acting odd,  and even an interesting fact about your energy use that month.


Online Portal Reports: Ecobee has a lot of data to share. A lot. If you love graphs and charts then you will love the online Home IQ and Systems Monitor reports. When you log on via web, you see a System summary that shows temperatures outside vs. the heat/AC/fan running inside your home. The “Follow Me” report gives you info on which sensors were triggered and when, and calculated average temps so you can make adjustments as necessary. The Schedule report shows the runtime of your equipment relative to your schedule. Weather Impact helps you understand how the weather influences your heating and cooling equipment runtime. This is helpful in those in-between season months, like May!

Feature: Aesthetics

The Nest

Bold and Beautiful: There’s no denying that the Nest has the best design quality of all the smart thermostats. It weighs a bit more than the Ecobee, but for good reason. It’s solid, sleek, and has a sharp resolution. The Nest is also available in 4 colors – black, white, copper, and stainless steel.


Simple: Though the screen resolution is not as crisp as the Nest, the Ecobee interface is easier to navigate. It looks fine once it is mounted on the wall but doesn’t feel as sturdy as the Nest.


The Nest Learning Thermostat and Ecobee4 are both comparable in price. Depending where you shop, right now on Amazon the Ecobee4 is available for $190 and $220 for the Nest Learning Thermostat. For a limited time, BGE is offering a $100 rebate to their customers who purchase and install an ENERGY STAR® certified smart thermostat, including The Nest and Ecobee.

Which Is Right For You?

You should go with The Nest if:

  • You already own other Nest products (such as security alarm, cameras, doorbell, lock, and smoke & CO detectors).
  • You don’t have the c-wire and are concerned with installing the Ecobee’s power-extender kit.
  • You want to set up it up and never worry about it again.
  • You’re an Android user.
  • You love beautifully designed products.

You should go with the Ecobee if:

  • You’re a nerd who wants more customizability.
  • You’re immersed in Apple’s ecosystem with iPhone (especially if you own HomePod or Apple TV).
  • You have the c-wire OR you don’t have the c-wire and aren’t intimidated by the power-extender kit.
  • You have a large or old house with temperature variations from room-to-room.
  • Your thermostat isn’t in a central location.
  • You have a widely varying schedule.


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