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Is it drafty in here? The Tempo lets you hunt your house for wasted heat

Don't be fooled, this Pebble-like device could automate and help heat your home better

This small, pebble-like device could help you isolate rooms in your house where heat escapes, plus it will introduce you to the world of iBeacons.

Monitoring temperature inside a house is fairly straightforward, and there are many connected devices to help observe changes on your smartphone. The Tempo environmental monitor goes a step beyond these devices and keeps a constant check on not only the temperature, but also the humidity and barometric pressure of its surroundings. Designed to be completely portable and used pretty much anywhere, the Tempo looks like a polished stone, and it could help make the best use of your heating system at home.

 Tempo looks like a polished stone, and it could help make the best use of your heating system at home.

Placed in a room, outside, or in an environment where temperature changes can be a problem, the Tempo happily keeps its data for up to 30 days. Reports can be downloaded to the app on your phone or sent as a file by email. The handy thing is it’s not passive. Alerts can be set for when the temperature falls below or rises above a certain level. It’s accurate enough for this to be to one decimal place.

A quick glance at the app’s main screen shows the temperature, plus a low and high reading, relative humidity, and barometric pressure, with variations over the past one or 12 hours. There’s a summary report where averages are logged, plus the option to show it all in a graph or table.

Isolate energy waste in your home

All this information would be useless if the Tempo was a pain to setup. It’s not. The device runs on two AA batteries, which need to be changed about once every year, depending on use. Once the app had been downloaded — it’s available for both iOS and Android — it synced straight away after pressing the single button hidden on the base. Multiple Tempos can be tracked by the app, and each one can be assigned a name and image. Provided Bluetooth is enabled and the Tempo is in range, the app will automatically download new data and sound alerts, should any be triggered. Our Tempo had excellent range and worked on both levels of the house.

To see how the Tempo could help better manage the heating in a house, it was placed in four different rooms over a four-week period and the results logged at the end of each week. The house is quite old and drafty, and the hope was the Tempo would expose which rooms were the coldest and at what times. It worked rather well. It was instantly obvious which room was the coldest, and isolating it using simple means — draft excluder around the door, thicker curtains — raised the temperature of the other connected rooms by a degree or two during the night. With patience, each room could be assessed and heating energy used more effectively. You actually get to precisely see if it makes any difference, too.

Related: This smart pool thermometer also measures your UV exposure

Blue Maestro, the company that produces the Tempo, says it’s also ideal for keeping a check on anything from cigar cabinets to terrariums, where temperature variations and humidity levels are very important. Since neither were available during our test, we stuck the Tempo outside to see how it held up during a week of cold, wind, and rain in the UK. The waterproof body ensured everything worked perfectly during its excursion and once it was taken back inside.

iBeacon makes the Tempo really interesting

We like the slightly geeky nature of the Tempo’s environmental monitoring, but it has another trick that makes it even geekier — it’s also an iBeacon. If you’re not familiar with iBeacons, think of them like an NFC tag, which reports on location and can prompt an action on your phone. Inside an Apple Store, for example, they have been used to give visitors a more convenient, interactive shopping experience.

It’s also ideal for keeping a check on anything from cigar cabinets to terrariums.

At home, iBeacons can be used with certain apps to perform particular functions. It’s early days for app development, but if you’re used to tinkering with apps like IFTTT, it’s relatively easy to setup location-based actions using your phone and an iBeacon system. It’s not the most user-friendly system, and Blue Maestro doesn’t provide much documentation on how it works, but if you dig around the Internet there are plenty of guides on how to use an iBeacon at home.

We used the Beecon app, and after entering the UUID and fiddling with the signal calibration in Tempo’s app, it pushed a “welcome home” message to our phone when we entered the house. Because the Tempo is portable, it could be used almost anywhere, including inside the car. It’s fun to find out what Beecon and the Tempo can do together.

Related: Beecon is an app for using iBeacons to automate your home

Even if the iBeacon mode is switched on, the Tempo still gathers its usual data, and the only drawback is the battery life will be slightly diminished. Still, it’s a cheap entry into the world of iBeacons and a cool additional feature. We’d like to see Blue Maestro incorporate location functionality into the Tempo itself, so every time we pass it, it’ll prompt us to check the temperatures.

The Tempo costs $72 and comes in a variety of different colors, of which the Pebble looks the funkiest, and the black version, seen in the pictures, the most inconspicuous. It’s cheap to run, incredibly easy to use, and provided you put in the time, it can help make better use of heating energy in your home.

Highs

  • Small and stylish design
  • Cheap to run
  • Genuinely informative

Lows

  • iBeacon feature is underused