HVAC technician installing a thermostat. The technician is wearing a blue jumpsuit with a utility belt, holding a screwdriver in one hand and adjusting a vintage-looking thermostat on a sleek, streamlined wall. There are geometric patterns and metallic accents typical of the art deco era in the background, with bold lines and a monochromatic color scheme of silver, blue, and black. The scene is stylish yet functional, reflecting the elegance and modernism of the 1920s and 1930s.

First off, I love our family’s ecobee—it’s just fantastic. I’ve now purchased three: one at our previous house, one the day we signed the dotted line on our new build, and then one when they launched the latest model with air quality monitoring.

The one thing that I couldn’t quite figure out was why the kids’ rooms, which are kind of the only rooms that I really care about, were not contributing to whether the heat or AC would be on. This was mainly the case with the heat, but sometimes the AC as well. I have a sensor in each of the kids’ rooms, and our downstairs living room (and the ecobee in the upstairs hallway is also a sensor). At night, which, with young kids, we have set to start at 6:30 PM, the only sensors that are tied to the comfort setting are in the kids’ rooms and the hallway. Our air intake is in the hallway near the thermostat on the second floor. This should mean that we’re fine. But something always bugged me—the kids’ rooms would always seem to be colder than the hallway (which makes sense, given windows, etc.), but it wouldn’t trigger the heat to come on. The kids’ rooms would show temperatures sometimes as low as 65º F when our house was set to 69º F, and yet the heat wouldn’t turn on. Even if I raised the temp to 70º F, it was no use.

I finally spent some time reading how this all works and realized that the issue was with the Follow Me setting.

Here’s an excerpt from ecobee’s site: Here’s an excerpt from ecobee’s site:

When Follow Me is enabled, in setting the temperature, the ecobee will give more weight to sensors in rooms where activity has recently been detected. That is, provided these sensors are included in your current Comfort Setting. In other words, the temperature averaging feature of the ecobee will follow you throughout the home, delivering comfort to the rooms you are in. If more than one sensor detects occupancy, the average of these sensors will be used. Your ecobee makes changes gradually when multiple sensors are detecting occupancy to make sure there are no sudden changes for your heating and cooling system to deal with. Similarly, once you leave a room and your sensor stops detecting occupancy, that sensor’s temperature readings are gradually (not immediately) removed from the setpoint calculation. Follow me in action When Follow Me is enabled your thermostat:

  • Takes the temperature and occupancy readings from each of the sensors participating in the scheduled Comfort Setting
  • Ranks them according to where you’re spending the most time
  • Based on the rankings, calculates the optimal home temperature for the active Comfort Setting

So, what was happening was that once the kids went down, their rooms would become “unoccupied” because they weren’t triggering the motion sensor (good job, kids, for sleeping), but the hallway would still be marked as occupied because we were still up and about. Thus, the hallway sensor was the only one used to determine the temperature (or at least heavily weighted toward the hallway over the kids’ rooms). This is why the kids’ rooms would be so cold—the hallway was warm enough not to trigger the heat. I turned off the Follow Me setting, and now the kids’ rooms are contributing to the temperature setting. Whenever I check, the kids’ rooms are kept at the correct temperature. The hallway is a touch warmer, but the point is that now I can be confident the kids’ rooms will be fine.

I also realized that there was a bit of a Schrödinger’s cat situation happening. The act of me checking the sensor temperatures would trigger the hallway sensor to register as occupied, and thus the kids’ rooms would no longer contribute to the temperature settings. I suspect that once I go to bed after eleven or so, the kids’ rooms would eventually average out—I just wouldn’t know it. Feature request to ecobee: please allow for per-sensor data logging! I also could have just removed the hallway from the comfort setting, but I didn’t want to—I was looking for a solution.

So, until the kids head off to college, I guess “Follow Me” is off.

Hopefully, this helps someone else who’s struggling to understand why their ecobee isn’t responsive to rooms that are occupied by someone sleeping but aren’t contributing to the temperature settings.

main image from this post generated by DALL•E 3