Fix the Ecobee smart thermostat's most annoying feature

Out of the box, the Ecobee does one thing very, very wrong. Here's how to make it right.

Rick Broida
Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
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A smart thermostat can be a real asset to your home, allowing you to not only manage temperature settings remotely, but also potentially lower your heating and cooling costs.

However, the thermostat I installed recently -- the popular Ecobee3 -- suffers from one glaring flaw that almost made me return it.

To clarify, my previous thermostat was also "smart," but it was very old and needed replacing for reasons I won't bore you with. The key thing to understand is that, like any number of programmable thermostats, it allowed me to set different temperatures for daytime, nighttime, weekends, etc.

Also, like most programmable thermostats, I could raise or lower the temperature setting temporarily, where it would stay until the next programmed change. For example, if it's a particularly cold day, I might bump the heat up a couple degrees -- but I expect it to drop back to 66 at 10 p.m., which is what the thermostat is programmed to do.

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The app won't help you fix the Ecobee's "hold" problem, but you can adjust the setting in Preferences.

Rick Broida/CNET

Out of the box, the Ecobee doesn't work that way. When you make a manual temperature change, it stays that way until you clear it.

That's why, recently, I awoke feeling like I was sleeping in a sauna. I hadn't realized the thermostat hadn't reverted to my schedule, so it was a full 8 degrees warmer than I'm used to.

Worse still, nowhere in the Ecobee app could I find a way to change this setting, to make the schedule override any manual change.

Fortunately, there is indeed a way: Head to the Ecobee site and sign into your account. Click Settings > Preferences > Hold Action, then choose Until the next scheduled activity. Now close the Settings window.

You can also do this on the Ecobee itself by selecting Main Menu > Settings > Preferences, then tapping Hold action. Set it to Until next activity and you're done!

My take: It should be set this way by default. Your thoughts?