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Nest Thermostat
Old 05-20-2013, 07:53 AM   #1
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Nest Thermostat

Does anyone have experience with the Nest Thermostat? For those not familiar with it, this is the smart thermostat by the former Apple employee who was instrumental in the design of the iPod and the first three generations of iPhone. I'm impressed by the look and feel of the Nest, having played with the one on display at my local big-box store, and I think it will save me money.

For anyone who actually has the Nest, does it really save you money? What was (or will be) the payback period?

And finally, what's the difference between the first and second generations, besides the look of the design (2G is thinner) and the fact that the 2G is compatible with more types of HVAC systems than the first? Otherwise, it looks like the 1G has similar, if not identical, functionality and it's quite a bit cheaper. The 2G is currently going for $249 and the 1G for $179.
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Old 05-20-2013, 08:14 AM   #2
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I bought one about three months ago (2G) after reading a rave review of it in the WSJ, and I love it. Too soon to tell if it's actually saving me money, but my gut feeling so far is that it is.

It's just so cool to be able to control the home thermostat from anywhere using my iPhone, and its "learning mode" does seem to pretty effectively pick up your usage patterns.

Another big bonus is that it's so much simpler to set than my old "standard" thermostat, and as for setting weekly schedules on it, there's no comparison. The old one was a pain to set; the Nest is a breeze (I usually do it from my web browser).

Highly recommended!
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Old 05-20-2013, 08:24 AM   #3
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I agree with braumeister. I have a 2G and love it more than I expected. It is incredibly easy to program. It's so nice to be able to quickly and easily adjust the thermostat -- whether it's upstairs in a hot (or cold) office, sitting on the couch, or coming home early or late. I like that you can tell it to learn how fast your house heats and cools, and then when you change the temp it can tell you how long it takes to get there. It even shows you this on the thermostat itself. Also, they just added the ability to run the fan for 15, 30 or 45 minutes per hour, instead of either auto or on.

As far as saving money, I think it does. But that's hard to quantify for sure, especially with the drop in natural gas prices. I'm too lazy to adjust our monthly electric/gas spends for heating/cooling days and for kWh and gas prices for a proper comparison.
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:01 AM   #4
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And finally, what's the difference between the first and second generations, besides the look of the design (2G is thinner) and the fact that the 2G is compatible with more types of HVAC systems than the first? Otherwise, it looks like the 1G has similar, if not identical, functionality and it's quite a bit cheaper. The 2G is currently going for $249 and the 1G for $179.
From the Nest.com website, I think I answered my second question:

"If your heating and cooling system was compatible with the 1st generation Nest Learning Thermostat, you won’t see a difference in terms of features or performance with the 2nd generation Nest."
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:38 AM   #5
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I've seen them on TV. Can't justify buying one to replace our 20 year old 'set-back' thermostat (which has saved us considerably), but our next house will have a Nest | The Learning*Thermostat | Home and a TED 5000 Series energy monitoring system - just because I'm geeky that way. The technology is cheap enough nowadays...
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:42 AM   #6
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I guess it depends on your conditions, but I think I save the most amount of money with the plain old, simple mechanical dial thermostat (1950's Honeywell style).

In the winter, if I am cold, I turn the heat up a bit. When I'm to the point of more than comfortable (with socks, slippers, sweater, etc), I turn it down.

When we go out, I turn it down. When we go to bed, I turn it down. I turn it up when I take a shower, as I like the warm air blast to push the humidity out of the bath, and I don't like the cold air flow when I'm showering.

With forced air heat, the house warms really fast (and you can always position yourself near a vent if you need a quicker warm up). My schedule is far too fuzzy for any device to decide these things better than I can. My shower times vary all over, and if I'm doing something active in the house, I can be fine at 63F (or less). But maybe the next day I'm sitting and reading at that time - then I'll usually need it warmer to be comfortable. Often we are fine with a low temp when cooking, plenty of heat from the oven, and we are active. How is a device going to track all that?

It becomes second nature to just adjust it throughout the day. It's no effort really, and no batteries in a thermostat to worry about (like many of the fancy ones need).

It aggravates me a bit that there are govt rebates for some of these things, but I get no credit for doing it manually, and most likely far better!

That said - I did see a remote thermostat on This Old House recently. That might work well for us. Our thermostat is on the 1st floor, and in summer, esp when it isn't super hot out, the AC will run, cool off the downstairs, that cool air sits down there, but it keeps getting warmer and warmer upstairs. I'd take the wireless unit upstairs with me at night, and keep it downstairs with me during the day. That would probably be better than leaving the blower on all night (which I've done, and does help to keep the house even).

-ERD50
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:45 AM   #7
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I am so intrigued by these Nest thermostats, but we have four "zones" in our house so we would need four of these to replace our existing thermostats...too much $$ for this cheapskate. Our HVAC system is only 2 years old...will stick with the Honeywell programmables we have.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:01 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I guess it depends on your conditions, but I think I save the most amount of money with the plain old, simple mechanical dial thermostat (1950's Honeywell style).

In the winter, if I am cold, I turn the heat up a bit. When I'm to the point of more than comfortable (with socks, slippers, sweater, etc), I turn it down.

When we go out, I turn it down. When we go to bed, I turn it down. I turn it up when I take a shower, as I like the warm air blast to push the humidity out of the bath, and I don't like the cold air flow when I'm showering.

With forced air heat, the house warms really fast (and you can always position yourself near a vent if you need a quicker warm up). My schedule is far too fuzzy for any device to decide these things better than I can. My shower times vary all over, and if I'm doing something active in the house, I can be fine at 63F (or less). But maybe the next day I'm sitting and reading at that time - then I'll usually need it warmer to be comfortable. Often we are fine with a low temp when cooking, plenty of heat from the oven, and we are active. How is a device going to track all that?

It becomes second nature to just adjust it throughout the day. It's no effort really, and no batteries in a thermostat to worry about (like many of the fancy ones need).

It aggravates me a bit that there are govt rebates for some of these things, but I get no credit for doing it manually, and most likely far better!

That said - I did see a remote thermostat on This Old House recently. That might work well for us. Our thermostat is on the 1st floor, and in summer, esp when it isn't super hot out, the AC will run, cool off the downstairs, that cool air sits down there, but it keeps getting warmer and warmer upstairs. I'd take the wireless unit upstairs with me at night, and keep it downstairs with me during the day. That would probably be better than leaving the blower on all night (which I've done, and does help to keep the house even).

-ERD50
You can buy a Honeywell 5-2 programmable for $25 Honeywell 5-2 Day Programmable Thermostat with Backlight-RTH2300B at The Home Depot, even the cheapest non-programmable thermostat isn't much less. You can always override a programmable, so there's no downside I can think of.
And the "plain old, simple mechanical [non-programmable] dial thermostat (1950's Honeywell style)" thermostats now cost $40 Honeywell Round Heat/Cool Thermostat-CT87N at The Home Depot.
The lithium ion batteries in a programmable last more than 10 years. A programmable never forgets, and it can change temps when you're not home/awake, extending your set-back savings periods - you can't do that manually. It's remarkable that you're able to 'do it far better [than a programmable] manually.'
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:04 AM   #9
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I was concerned by some of the Amazon reviews that stated that when a nest "glitches" it may set your furnace on full blast and be difficult to shut off. Very bad if you plan to take any trips.

It's pretty snazzy though.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:15 AM   #10
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Although the circular look is nice looking, and while not a biggie, if you are replacing a more conventional rectangular design thermostat (eg Honeywell), you might end up having to repaint your wall if the nest doesn't cover the old footprint, which may or may not be a big deal for some depending on your wall finish and whether the wall was painted to its current color under the old thermostat.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:19 AM   #11
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The nest (at least G2) includes a rectangular panel large enough to cover up the old footprint. I had to use it to cover screw holes because I didn't want to spackle. I think it's paintable although its default color isn't too far off my wall color so I haven't painted it yet.

Also, unless I'm having a brain fart, the Nest G2 runs off power from the furnace (24V, I believe), so there is no user-replaceable battery. I assume there is a small lithium or rechargable to retain power in outages.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:34 AM   #12
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You can buy a Honeywell 5-2 programmable for $25 Honeywell 5-2 Day Programmable Thermostat with Backlight-RTH2300B at The Home Depot, even the cheapest non-programmable thermostat isn't much less. You can always override a programmable, so there's no downside I can think of.
And the "plain old, simple mechanical [non-programmable] dial thermostat (1950's Honeywell style)" thermostats now cost $40 Honeywell Round Heat/Cool Thermostat-CT87N at The Home Depot.
The lithium ion batteries in a programmable last more than 10 years.
But my current thermostat will probably outlive me, and several 10 year lithium batteries, so that is $25 plus that I don't need to spend (hey that's $1 a year I can 'blow' on fun stuff at a HSWR of 4%!!! ).

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A programmable never forgets, and it can change temps when you're not home/awake, extending your set-back savings periods - you can't do that manually. It's remarkable that you're able to 'do it far better [than a programmable] manually.'
As I said, conditions may vary for others, but I don't see where any of the auto stuff would help me, I think it would hurt. As I said, the heat is turned down when I leave and before bed, and not turned up until we wake up (sometimes not even then). It's habit, I don't forget, and I have no need to adjust it when I'm away (its already turned down). I don't think it's remarkable, I think it would be remarkable for a device to follow my changing schedule better than I can. How is it going to know I want the heat on for a shower at 10AM one day, but 5PM the next, and 3PM the next? Or that we are going out to dinner today, and would like the heat up while we relax before we go out, instead of turned down while we cook dinner? Or that I'm going to bed at 11PM tonight, and 1PM tomorrow? Heck, I don't know these things until the happen - and then I adjust the thermostat!

Yes, the auto ones have manual over-ride, but in my case, manual is all I need. I think I'd spend more time over-riding one than just setting it.

-ERD50
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Old 05-20-2013, 12:05 PM   #13
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The Nest has been on This Old House, twice. It was installed in the Cambridge House in the Fall, 2012 season and then I saw it again on an Ask This Old House episode where they went out to a viewer's home and installed it and did a very good demo on the features.

It can be programmed manually, on the unit, or via a web page. The part I really liked was being able to see the usage, hour by hour, online.

I would love to get one of these but we have a new programmable thermostat that came with our HVAC system in 2011. If that one dies, I'd get the Nest.
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Old 05-20-2013, 01:41 PM   #14
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I like the idea of being to program it from a web page.

In our house we have 3 Honeywell programmable thermostats (they were here when we bought the house). We have on HVAC unit, but have 3 zones.

Can the Nest handle that type of setting up - multiple zones but one HVAC?

What I don't like about the Honeywell is that you have to program at the unit and it is time consuming and one of the thermostats is in an inconvenient location where there is furniture underneath it so it is hard to get to. Being about to program from a web page would be so worth it.
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Old 05-20-2013, 01:56 PM   #15
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I am so intrigued by these Nest thermostats, but we have four "zones" in our house so we would need four of these to replace our existing thermostats...too much $$ for this cheapskate. Our HVAC system is only 2 years old...will stick with the Honeywell programmables we have.
I have been interested in zoning my house.... but not with different HVAC systems.... how is yours zoned

Did you retro fit or installed during construction?
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Old 05-20-2013, 02:21 PM   #16
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Call me old school but I prefer the 100% mechanical ones that contain that evil substance called mercury. I've used newer ones but I have had LCD fade away after a few years of use.
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Old 05-20-2013, 03:22 PM   #17
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I like the idea of being to program it from a web page.

In our house we have 3 Honeywell programmable thermostats (they were here when we bought the house). We have on HVAC unit, but have 3 zones.

Can the Nest handle that type of setting up - multiple zones but one HVAC?
Sure, you can have up to ten of them, and even have them in two different houses, all controlled from the same online interface. There's a lot of information on the nest.com website.
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Old 05-20-2013, 04:26 PM   #18
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I bought one for our home earlier in the year. I plan on buying them for our vacation rentals as well. I like the idea of being able to control the temp in between rentals. I was surprised how easy it was to install.
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Old 05-20-2013, 08:19 PM   #19
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Old 05-20-2013, 11:30 PM   #20
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Sure, you can have up to ten of them, and even have them in two different houses, all controlled from the same online interface. There's a lot of information on the nest.com website.
I went and read up on it and you can use it with a single HVAC system that is zoned.

But there is a long list of routers that aren't compatible with it and my Netgear router is on there. Maybe if the router dies at some point I'll get a router that works with it and revisit the issue then.
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