I'll be putting in an EcoBee Stat-02 with our new HVAC system. There are a number of things I like about it:
1. I can set a max heat and min A/C levels. I can also set it to auto-changeover with a minimum difference between high and low settings so it doesn't bounce between heating and cooling all the time.
2. I can then set a lock so they can control the temp (within ranges above), and can do nothing else. Because we have a heat pump, I can also prevent them for forcing it into the expensive "emergency heat" setting too.
Those are the key issues.
But the cool part is that since the rental house has WiFi, I can communicate with the thermostat any time I want from my computer, iPhone or Android phone. Of course, I can set the temperature remotely, which is great for pre-heating the house for guests if the house has been unheated (or in the summer, uncooled) between guests. In fact, I can change any of the settings remotely.
I can check to see the current house actual temp (nice in the middle of the winter when I want to see how cold it is getting with the heat off) and humidity.
AND - it keeps a log of what the thermostat has been set at and the actual house temp for the past X number of days. So, I can see that the thermostat has been set at 72, while it was 85 outside, and the A/C has run non-stop for the past 5 hours. That's a pretty good sign that they've got the windows open while running the a/c. So I can either do something about it (stop by or call) or if it's in the contract, I could even charge them for it.
It does lots of other neat things, like running the A/C on low (if it is a two-speed A/C system) for a longer period of time if the humidity is high. It even displays the current outside temp and forecast on the thermostat display because it uses the internet to check AccuWeather.com
Lots of neat things for remote management and cost management.
It's pricy ($300) and will run you even more if you aren't comfortable doing the replacement yourself and hire an HVAC contractor to do it, but the control and reporting is worth quite a bit in savings and understanding how to communicate with your guests.
Interesting, but its probably overkill for me. My heat is individually controlled baseboards, so they cant be centrally controlled. I just want to keep them from bottoming out the tstat, running the ac for months at a time. The Chicago ones cannot be overridden. An internet savvy person who is bored may decide to hack into your tstat, and I don’t want to be fighting with my tenants via my smartphone, adjusting temps.
Could this easily be replaced with an existing thermostat installed in 2006? I'm not sure how many wires are run to the existing thermostats.
After reading a bit more on them, it sounds like you have to run new wires to the Interface module if you want it in a utility room instead of a garage where my unit is. Which is another cost on top of the thermostat.
Love all the things you could control though!
We use the Rite Temp themostat at our home in Florida. It allows guests to adjust the temperature within a set range. AC cannot be set lower than 76 degrees and Heat cannot be set above 72 degrees. This has been great for us in terms of saving on our electric bill. Even in the Florida summer--the AC at 76 is very comfortable. We are looking into installing an energy management system that will shut off the AC if a door or window is left open.
I converted my rental thermostats to the new nest thermostats. They have motion detection and will shutdown heat and air conditioning when the thermostat doesn't sense movement after a period... that alone makes them worth every penny of the cost for them.
You can go online and see how much useage there was yesterday and all week for that matter (make them pay by the hour for air??). You can remote control the units via your laptop or smartphone. If you see windows open you whip out your iphone and shutdown air conditioning if it is on. You can even put a limit on how high or low temps can be set or lock out the tenant entirely with a passcode.
If you'd like to trim your air conditioning bill you can set a schedule to turn the air conditioner up to 78 degrees every 4 hours (or less) if you'd like as well... or a less drastic change and often it goes unnoticed by the guest. Believe me they don't think about turning off the air conditioning when heading out the door and this corrects that and save me a boat load of money every month.
I tell guests that the air will shut off if windows are open and will self adjust according to outdoor temps as it is in 'eco' mode. Works great for me.