Earlier this week we took a look at some of the ways you can use an Ecobee smart thermostat to trigger home automation related tasks using the IFTTT (IF This Then That) service. Today we’ll be taking a look at the other side of the IFTTT and the thermostats — things you can make your thermostat do based on triggers from other IFTTT services.
As we’ve mentioned before, we’re going to be jumping right in here, so if you’re not already familiar with IFTTT, so be sure to take a look at our introductory article.
In addition to the triggers that we looked at in part 1, IFTTT’s service also provides a series of actions that can be used to adjust the thermostat’s settings.
The first three actions, Set indefinite hold, Set hold until next transition, and Set hold for X hours allow you to set your thermostat to a specific temperature — either indefinitely, until the next scheduled event, or for a specific amount of time.
Two additional actions allow you to set your thermostat to a preset “comfort profile” instead of a specific temperature, such as “Home” or “Away” or “Sleep,” while Resume program simply cancels any overrides, telling the thermostat to return to its regularly scheduled event. A final action lets you create a vacation event — which is basically just a temperature hold that lasts for days rather than hours.
Turn on the heat when the outside temperature drops
One obvious use case right off the bat is to tie in the Weather Underground service to automatically turn on the heat if the outside temperature drops below a certain level.
This can be handy during fall and spring seasons when temperatures can be unpredictable but you only want to turn your furnace on if it gets cold enough outside to create serious heat loss in your home.
Set the thermostat to Home when the front door is unlocked
If you use an August Smart Lock, you can leverage its IFTTT features to automatically set your Ecobee to “Home” mode whenever your front door is unlocked — a useful alternative for users who either can’t or don’t want to use geofencing features. Note also that we use “until next transition” here because you’ll probably want your thermostat to otherwise follow its normal schedule once you’re home — this is actually an advantage that IFTTT has over platforms such as Apple HomeKit, which are limited to setting an indefinite hold.
Although you could create a similar applet to set the ecobee to “Away” when the door is locked, we don’t recommend that, since August and IFTTT have no way of knowing if you’re locking the door from outside when you’re actually leaving home, or from inside when you’ve just come in the door.
Send a text to heat up the house before you get home
Although most Ecobee users may find it a low-tech solution, not everybody in the family can or wants to carry a smartphone. If you’re in that situaiton, you can take advantage of IFTTT’s SMS gateway to trigger actions whenever you sent a text from your phone to the specified number.
The SMS trigger provides the ability to fire off when any SMS is received from you, or you can choose to specify a tag that must appear in the text message. You can find the number to use to send text messages by selecting the SMS service from the “Services” tab (under “My Applets”) and clicking on the “Settings” button.
Unfortunately, the SMS service doesn’t provide any ingredients that can be used in your Ecobee actions, so you won’t be able to do anything more advanced (like specify the temperature), but you can set up multiple applets that each respond to different tags to provide for more granular control if necessary.
Use a vacation schedule from your Google Calendar
Although the Ecobee thermostat provides its own “Vacation” feature, it requires you to specifically go into the thermostat or the Ecobee app and punch in your vacations. However, if you’ve already entered your vacation dates in your Google Calendar, then why not just use those? IFTTT can search your Google Calendar for specific entries and simply adjust your thermostat when your calendar says you’re going to be away.
Although IFTTT does provide a Create vacation action, in this case it’s easier just to set an indefinite hold, since there’s no way to pull the length of your vacation from Google Calendar, nor any way to feed it to the Ecobee IFTTT action. Instead, we’d suggest simply creating a second applet to resume your normally scheduled program, either when your “vacation” event ends or when another event such as “return flight” occurs.
On the other hand, if you’re somebody who regularly takes short weekend jaunts, you can still use the Create vacation option and just statically configure it for either two or three days, as the case may be.
As you can see from the above examples, which are just the tip of the iceberg, the ability to control the Ecobee thermostat from IFTTT applets opens up a lot of options. If properly done, it can not only make your life more convenient, but also help you save on your energy bills.