October 27, 2012 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Programable thermostats - regular or internet style?

We're moving into a house with older thermostats that I know we need to update. I've heard good things about the internet remotely controlled Nest, and I know there are others like it out there. Does anyone have experience with these? Or do you recommend the regular ol' programmable ones?

Our schedules do vary greatly so remote control would be nice, but not necessary.

I have seen this but I'm hoping there is more feedback by now.

Apple environment, should that be relevant.

posted by cestmoi15 to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The nest may be controlled over the Internet or with your iPhone, but they don't need to be. You can adjust the temperature right on the wall like usual.

We have three Nests in our house, plus one in the apartment we rent out. So far, they seem to be doing fine, although they're having a bit of trouble adjusting to the transition to winter. (Not surprisingly, as this time of year we can get 20 degree swings in temperature over the course of the day, 0 to 20F, and we haven't yet got plastic up on all the windows, so the house is leaky).

Apparently they talk to each other and have learned when we're away, etc.

If your house has zone heating, you may need to replace the zone valves---one kind was ok, but one kind wasn't. We also had I think two defective units, but Nest was fantastic about replacing things quickly.

If you have more questions, MeMail me and I can ask my husband who's dealt more with them.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:26 AM on October 27, 2012

I've had a Nest since they became available for purchase, and I LOVE it. And yes, it's saved us money on our electricity bills. I built a spreadsheet of month to month usage over the last two years, and it's literally saving us about 15% per month in energy costs.

Setup couldn't have been any easier - the website has installation videos that cover just about any prior configuration you can think of - and the controls are simple and intuitive.

Also, the internet and iphone interfaces work flawlessly.

The Nest is probably one of the best home improvement purhcases I've ever made!
posted by matty at 9:27 AM on October 27, 2012

I have a Nest. I like it. It was easy to install and set up, easy to program, and being able to access it remotely is handy both away from home (e.g., turn off "away mode" before leaving work so the house will be warm/cool on arrival) and in the house (adjust temperature by smartphone when sitting way far away from the thermostat). The recent software update has brought some nice new features like smarter management of emergency heat.

That being said, the much-hyped schedule learning feature is, IMHO, pointless, because I know the schedule I want the thermostat to follow and most of the "learned" adjustments increase my energy usage. I may be unusual, though, since I've always kept my thermostat programmed for aggressively energy-saving temps (I have the heat set at 55 degrees 22 hours a day) and temporarily adjust when necessary.

If you're interested in the concept, I would also check out the Wifi-enabled models from Ecobee and Honeywell. By reputation, they're more of a pain to install and set up, but there's some interesting configuration options like Honeywell's wireless remote temperature sensor that may make sense with a multi-zone system.
posted by backupjesus at 9:37 AM on October 27, 2012

Our own beloved mathowie did a writeup of the Nest here.
posted by judith at 10:10 AM on October 27, 2012

Keep in mind the complexity of programming the thing, and how much subtlety you really need in controlling the temperature of your house.

I have a standalone programmable, with seven days and four transitions per day. The damned thing takes 20 minutes to set every time I change the battery, and I set every day exactly the same anyway (even the weekends, because I rarely stick around the house all day, and I can override it on the rare occasions when I do).

I suppose an internet-accessible model might have an easier interface to program, but I wouldn't count on it (I've seen some pretty crappy software for "USB enabled" toys that made me wish it had just the standard three "up/down/next" buttons).
posted by pla at 10:33 AM on October 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a regular programmable thermostat -- it allows every day to be the same, every day to be different, or to have weekdays on one schedule and weekends on another. The one and only time it would be awesome to have some kind of internet or phone connectivity is when I'm returning from a long trip, when it would be totally luxurious to tell the thermostat to start warming up the house an hour or so before I get home.

Otherwise I just use a combination of a programmed schedule and manually telling it to warm up/cool down when that changes. My house doesn't take long to warm up, though, so it's no big deal to come home to a 60F house and bump up the temperature; if I had some kind of slow oil burner system that creaked and groaned and took hours to heat things up, I might want a different thermostat.
posted by Forktine at 10:46 AM on October 27, 2012

Best answer: We have a regular programmable thermostat, and I HATE it. (I feel like a life failure admitting that.) I am a reasonably tech savvy person, yet I am always saying, "why is it 84 (or 64 or some other not habitable number of) degrees in here at exactly 6:47 PM every day?" I reset it and reset it, and yet I frequently give up in frustration and switch the whole thing off and open a window.

(To be fair, part of this may be due to a thermostat war that I didn't realize was going on, but damn if that thermostat doesn't make it hard to make the temperature reasonable. I'd much rather just get up and switch on the heater or AC myself.)
posted by instamatic at 12:08 PM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

After my old programmable thermometer up and died, I literally just installed Nest 2.0 last weekend. I'm not the handiest person and it took me an easy 20 minutes (with a tiny bit of work to the wall) and I didn't even watch the video! Programming is a cinch as well.

So far, I am loving it. Like. So much. But I am also the kind of person who geeks out on the information that the Nest feeds back. I also really love the remote programming and the other features. And it looks great too (if you care about that kind of thing)!
posted by violetk at 12:20 PM on October 27, 2012

If you are really into fiddling with the latest in tech gadgets, you could buy the Nest. Or you could get one of the standard programmable ones and save yourself $200. Either will do the job. Both are equally adept at saving energy.
posted by JackFlash at 2:45 PM on October 27, 2012

I had the nest since it first came out and I love it. The internet and the tablet app lets you change temperatures and program it. The programming interface is not perfect, but the drag and drop is miles ahead of any other I've seen.
posted by ethidda at 3:19 PM on October 27, 2012

I have a Nest and I love it. I'm not handy and I installed it myself in about half an hour. I love how smart it is about knowing how early to start heating the house to get to X temperature at 6:40 a.m. I love how it uses "airwave" to capture the last bit of cooling from the coils of my air conditioner while using less energy. I love how when my house temperature is wonky in the night (I live in an older house with some wonky insulation complications upstairs, and no upstairs thermostat, and both bedrooms upstairs), I can sleepily roll over, grab my phone, and fix that shit (instead of running downstairs to the wall thermostat in my pajamas freezing my butt off).

With our older, idiosyncratic house, the Nest has been a lot smarter than previous thermostats we've had about maintaining a steady temperature and "learning" how long to run the heat and air to keep it steady, instead of overshooting. It's saved us money on our electricity and gas bills and increased our comfort in the house.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:34 PM on October 27, 2012

I have two Nests in remote homes, and... well, I love them too much for words.

I never did use the whole 'learning your schedule' aspects of the software, probably since I'm never around them enough for that, but the web apps, iApps and remote monitoring are golden for me: I'm now spending 90% of my time an ocean away from a house where I worry about pipes freezing and breaking in the winter. The other place is near-tropical enough to never freeze, but the Nest's humidity sensor informed me of a failed air conditioning unit back in July. That was handy.

Overkill, probably, but for a worrywart like me, they're lifesavers.
posted by rokusan at 10:04 PM on October 27, 2012

« Older Functioning with bad jet-lag?   |   Myths, legends, and a secret grandmother up a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.