The Quickest Way To Begin Greening Your House

Quick – What’s the easiest way to reduce your energy use and costs in your home? Better Insulation, perhaps? Solar panels on the roof? Microturbine on the lawn? All valid ways, but there’s an even more direct path. Your thermostat. If it’s more then an orange pointer to a temperature, in other words programmable, you have the power to make significant changes in your energy footprint.

And yet you don’t. Why?

EcoBee Smart ThermostatFor many, it’s just too complex, intimidating, and just not a regular part of their routine. It’s this that the people at EcoBee sought to address in creating their new device, released last week. One could ask, what is it, beyond being a fancy thermostat control? It’s comfort, ease, and accessibility. Like the iPhone, the interface was carefully thought out and tested to be simple, effective, and most importantly, used.

In a nod to modern day life that revolves around the computer, it can be controlled by your computer via the wifi network on a personalized web portal. All you need do is tell it what temperature you want when, and it calculates how best to achieve it. And in an area I’m sure 95% of you overlook, you can set it to remind you to change your furnace, humidifier, and ventilator filters, and get your equipment serviced.

EcoBee helps users have a more fine grained awareness of their energy usage, showing current real time, what it’s been today, what it was yesterday, and how that compares to the average, best, and worst days. Like cars that show real time mileage, being able to see just how much juice you’re using would for many I imagine be incentive to modify your energy use and what other methods you use to  achieve optimum temperature in your house.

Speaking of, with your greater awareness may come a desire to know more, do more, and share more. Ecobee has created an online community where other owners can gather to share tips, experiences, and resources to live a more sustainable life.

Suddenly that copper colored plastic circle and temperature dial on your wall is looking a little scared. Recycle it well, won’t you?

Readers: What are some other ways you’ve found to easily and smartly green your house? Chime in, below.

Additional Reading:

Bad News For Green Builders? Not So Fast: Ecopreneurist

A Financial Stimulus Package That Pays For Your Photovoltaic System? : Green Building Elements

Weekend Review: The Renewable Energy Handbook and Smart Power : Green Building Elements

About the Author

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media. Who he has and wants to work with includes consumer, media, clean tech, NGOs, social ventures, and museums. For more on GreenSmith Consulting, see He also writes for Triple Pundit
  • yes, save energy. You probably should turn it down lower than 72 degrees. That is a bit warm if you are trying to save money. Mine is at 60 degrees.

  • Good suggestion, depending on where you live. And it’s but one setting example.

  • Butthawk

    Anyone stupid enough not to be using an auto set thermostat deserves to be on the street freezing. And to think these losers are allowed to vote and drive cars.


  • Two very easy things everyone can do to reduce energy use:

    1) turn off what you’re cooking 5-10 mins before it’s due time. Sure, this depends on what you’re cooking, but alot of things which take > 30 mins will happily cook in their own heat for another 5-10+ mins before serving without any extra power being supplied.

    2) if you have an oven/grill, consider using the grill for the oven. Some have separate oven controls for the grill … in which case well and good. Others don’t, in which case you will need to experiment. Bottom line though is that your grill is 1/2 to 1/3 of the size of your oven. If you can fit it in there to cook, do so. The power savings will be enormous.

    HTH 🙂

  • Wow, the Ecobee is really cool looking…it definitely reminds me of the iPhone!

  • Great tips Chris!

  • Lucy

    I’m working w/ ecobee to help launch this thermostat. It doesn’t just control heating, but also air conditioning. If you live in FL or AZ, 72 may be the right temp for some rooms – although 75 or higher saves on electric bill. It can be set as low as 50 degrees F.

  • Our thermostat is in the kitchen, making for interesting temperature zones in the remainder of the house. A warm kitchen, we cook with gas, will switch off the heating and keep the rest of the house cooler. At first we wanted to change the location of the thermostat, now we’re looking at this as a benefit.

  • Chris

    One neat product that can help out is The Energy Detective. It monitors and reports your household electrical use so that you can tell how much energy your appliances are using, and subsequently, how much you’re spending. Granted, the effort required to go green is still on you, but by informing you of your use (and the cash it’s costing you!), you’re much more likely to conserve.

    Check it out:

  • Andreas, what an interesting way to reframe what could be seen as a negative.

    Awesome find Chris! Is this on a per appliance basis, or overall energy use? Either way, definitely helpful to have real time feedback.

  • Chris

    It’s overall energy, Paul. I know there are a few devices out there that measure individual appliances, but that doesn’t really help you out with things like air conditioning, heat, oven, stove, etc. that you can’t plug directly into the device. The Energy Detective hooks up directly into your electrical panel.

  • Chris, I’ve heard of some being developed that would read the recognizable “signature” energy use of different things, discerning the difference and sending data on a per device basis. That would be awesome to have that fine grained info. However, even having your overall use, live, is I’m sure quite useful, and plenty for most.

  • It is amazing the water we can save right in our homes and yards if we just pay attention to the issue for a half hour.

    The combined factors of rising temperatures, drought, population growth, urban sprawl, waste and excess are leading to water shortage issues in the United States. The U.S. government projects that at least 36 states will face water shortages within the next five years. Also, by curbing home water use we can decrease the release of Greenhouse Gases. Water pumping, delivery and wastewater treatment consumes a significant amount of our nation’s electricity.

    According to the Earth Policy Institute, the average price for water in America is about $2.50 per 1,000 gallons. That is about a quarter of what it costs in some European countries. Even at the low price Americans pay for water, a leaky faucet can drip 20 gallons a day down the drain, and a leaky toilet 200 gallons. You might as well toss two crisp $100 bills down the drain each year. Also, consider the energy you pay for to heat water. You save energy by using less warm and hot water. You can accomplish this by using faucet aerators, low flow shower heads, efficient clothes washers and efficient dishwashers. A $4 device for your existing toilet can reduce the water used each time you flush by .8 gallons or 1,800 gallons a year per toilet.

    Outdoor water use can be even more wasteful in homes. One of the most popular grasses for home lawns, Kentucky bluegrass, requires 35-40 inches of water annually. It is often planted, however, in areas receiving 14 inches of rain or less. This sets up a lawn situation requiring extensive watering. This is especially problematic in areas of the country already suffering from water shortages. Typical homeowners apply 10,000 gallons of water each year for every 1,000 sq. ft of lawn. Synthetic grass, xeriscaping and other low water use landscape options are available!

    Green Irene

  • Great info, thanks much!

  • Pingback: EcoDrive: A Backseat Driver With the Planet and Your Pocketbook in Mind : Ecopreneurist()

  • interesting post great tips thanks