NAD Finds ecobee Can Support Certain Claims for ‘Smart’ Thermostats, Recommends Advertiser Discontinue Certain Claims

New York, NY – Oct. 27, 2017  – The National Advertising Division has determined that recommended that ecobee, Inc., a maker of smart thermostats, provided a reasonable basis for advertising claims related to energy and cost savings claims, but recommended that ecobee modify the claims to disclose their basis and discontinue claims that the company’s smart thermostats are compatible with “95%” of the household heating and cooling systems in North America

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Claims made by ecobee on product packaging, the ecobee website, point-of-sale advertisements, and Internet advertisements for its smart thermostats were challenged by Honeywell International, Inc., the maker of competing smart thermostats.

Claims at issue included:

  • SAVE ON YOUR ENERGY BILL. ecobee owners save an average of 23% on heating and cooling annually.
  • Lower your energy bills. ecobee saves homeowners an average of 23% annually, paying for itself in energy saving.
  • Pays you back in savings.  By conserving energy, your ecobee3 lite pays for itself in approximately one year and continues to save you money, year after year, without compromising your comfort.
  • Ordinary thermostats only read the temperature in one room.  This leads to uneven temperatures in other rooms.  Introducing the ecobee3.  The smarter wi-fi thermostat for homes with more than one room.  It uses sensors to deliver comfort in the rooms that matter most.
  • Most thermostats read the temperature in one place (usually the hallway) which can make other rooms uncomfortable.  ecobee3 uses room sensors to deliver the preferred temperature to the rooms that matter.
  • Room sensors help to address hot and cold spots, improving your home comfort.
  • Placing additional sensors in the rooms that matter most will help address hot and cold spots and make your home even more comfortable.
  • The ecobee3 is “the world’s only thermostat with room sensors.”
  • “ecobee residential thermostats are compatible with 95% of residential heating and cooling systems in North America.”
  • Install your ecobee in 30 minutes or less.

As NAD noted in its decision, heating and cooling make up a significant portion of the cost of maintaining American homes. Smart thermostats automatically adjust heating and cooling settings for optimal performance using a variety of potential tools, including “learning” a user’s preferences and schedule, allowing users to more easily track or manage their thermostat, and providing remote access to thermostat settings on the internet.

The challenged advertising, NAD noted, sought to promote the benefits of the advertiser’s smart thermostats by quantifying the energy and cost savings, while also promoting other benefits related to the usability of its products.

Following its review of the advertiser’s evidence, NAD determined that ecobee provided a reasonable basis for its claim that ecobee owners save an average of 23% on heating and cooling annually, but recommended that the advertiser modify its quantified energy savings claims to disclose clearly and conspicuously and in close proximity to the main claim that the savings is a comparison of energy consumption using an ecobee thermostat to the energy consumption of a thermostat kept at a constant 72° F.

NAD also determined that ecobee provided a reasonable basis for its claim that by conserving energy, the ecobee3 lite pays for itself in approximately one year, but recommended that the advertiser modify its cost savings claim to clearly and conspicuously disclose the basis for that claim – the assumed cost of energy and the set point energy savings methodology.

NAD also recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim “install in 30 minutes or less” as well as the claim “compatible with 95% of residential heating and cooling systems in North America.”

NAD found that the claim, “The smarter wi-fi thermostat with room sensors . . . For homes with more than one room” amounted to puffery and did not require substantiation.

NAD also found that the claim that “Ordinary thermostats read the temperature in one room (usually the hallway) which can make your favorite rooms uncomfortable . . . [ecobee3] works with room sensors to deliver the right temperature in the rooms that matter most,” was substantiated but recommended that ecobee discontinue its claims that “room sensors help to address hot and cold spots, improving your home comfort,” and “will help address hot and cold spots and make your home even more comfortable,” or modify them to make clear that room sensors cannot address hot and cold spots in a home at the same time.

Ecobee, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company will comply with NAD’s recommendations.

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.