From Concept to Reality: Serving a Community With beestat’s Free and Open Source Analytics

Open Source Analytics with Beestat

This is A Guest Post

OpenHVAC periodically asks professionals across the community to generate content which we feel is relevant to our community members. OpenHVAC is not associated with or receives any compensation for any of the the products and services listed in this article.

Jon Ziebell is a software engineering leader currently working full time in the healthcare technology space. He has spent the past 15 years building software and teams to improve the lives of patients. He developed beestat as a passion project and made it available to the community as free and open source software.
Jon Ziebell of beestat– Jon Ziebell, beestat

The Prequel Story

I became a homeowner for the first time in 2010. I knew nothing about owning a home, and somehow even less about HVAC systems. The one thing I had going for me was a passion for learning and doing. I learned about air handlers, heat pumps, and not to put the thermostat on “Em Heat” unless you really mean it.

By 2015 I had plenty of knowledge, but I needed data. This led me to create the lesser-known predecessor to beestat: sqlbee. Anyone technical could use this script to sync their ecobee thermostat data to a local database. Analytics and graphing were left as an exercise to the user.

Open Source Analytics
One of the first reports I built was a daily text-based runtime summary.

Birth of beestat

My passion for HVAC data grew slowly over the next few years. I learned more about my own system, improved sqlbee, and built some basic analytics and charts for my own personal use. In 2018, I combined my energy usage data with my ecobee data and produced a couple charts that replaced much of ecobee’s own reporting. The more I looked at what I had done, the more I saw how lacking the existing options were. I saw a need for open source analytics, and beestat was born.

beestat's first depiction of open source analytics on its dashboard in 2018.
The original excel reporting has been lost to time, but one of the original charts looked very similar to this.

Early Success and Expansion

I took the next week and converted sqlbee into a passable backend for this new concept. I added a few more charts and a beta version of beestat’s (now refined) Temperature Profiles. Once the MVP was done, I crossed my fingers and shared what I had done with the ecobee community on Reddit. I called the project beestat, a simple play on the words “ecobee”, “thermostat” and “statistic”.

Original depiction of beestat's free and Open Source Analytics that allowed for home comparisons.
The original Home Comparisons in beestat used to be three scores. This was eventually upgraded to expose far more detail.

Reception was warm, and I had around 100 users by the end of the first week. As a serial starter-of-projects, this was wild and inspiring and breathed life and validity into what I was creating.

Free and Open Source Analytics: The beestat Philosophy

Over the next month, a vision began to form about what beestat could be. I was talking to users, building new features, inventing new analytics, and spending countless hours developing the platform from the ground up. I had two main goals: provide value, and do it for free.

If you look at beestat today, lots of people would say free is a crazy decision. Why make it free when I could charge for the privilege? I ask the opposite: Why charge when I could do it for free?

Beestat is free because I believe that homeowners should have easy and meaningful access to their data.
Beestat is free because it helps people save money and energy.
Beestat is free because I’ve been a benefactor of free software and it’s a way to give back.
Beestat is free because it’s the right thing to do.

Fostering Community

I’ve never second-guessed the commitment I made to free (and open source), and I believe that’s one of the reasons why beestat has such a great community behind it. Every day I have the opportunity to engage with my users. Sometimes we hang out in community, other times we’re troubleshooting over email. The organic growth of beestat and the community behind it has been exciting and unexpected.

Beestat has seen steady user growth since 2018. It trends with the seasons, and spikes during extreme weather events.

Over the years I’ve learned lots of technical skills, but the most important lessons have been from my users. They care about simple, but still want access to data and advanced tools. If you care about them they will show you the same kindness back (I have not paid a penny out of pocket for beestat expenses). And most importantly: listen to them! Users ask for features and complain when things break because they care. They don’t always have the right answer, but they do have the right problem. They just need someone to care along with them.

Thank you to the OpenHVAC community for allowing me the platform to share my story. If you’d like to chat or learn more, reach out to me at

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