We finally got around to swapping out the antiquated thermostat that was in place when we moved in to a better, faster, stronger one.
The old Honeywell model had a vague temperature slider that didn’t allow any fine-tuning or accurate depiction of what the temperature actually was or what temperature you wanted it to be. In this day and age where bills matter and energy is quantified in cents and dollars, we do not want to be leaving our money to the safe-cracking antics of guesstimated energy management.
Now being The Nest and everything it was an easy decision to choose our new thermostat based purely on naming commonalities. So we splurged and got the slick $250 Nest Thermostat conjured up by ex-Apple Tony Fadell. NOT. This is what we got:
A non-programmable thermostat that does the job at a tenth of the price of Nest! The Nest thermostat is a nice one for sure, but does not do anything special or amazing that current programmable thermostats on the market do (Honeywell has some similarly priced units that are uglier). It’s pretty, overpriced and makes people think it actually will save them money by learning their behaviors (coming, going, etc.). The main problem I have with Nest is that it cannot improve upon anything that comes before it in the HVAC system of residential HVAC systems. And because each house is made differently at different times with different materials and subject to unique weather conditions/aging, you can’t really benchmark a product like this and tote it as working for everyone producing the same great results (will Nest guarantee a dollar amount of savings that you are entitled to if you use their product? Impossible!). It’s a lost cause. Unless you overhaul the entire HVAC system and make that smart, then you won’t be doing yourselves any favors by purchasing the Nest and thinking you will be change the world. And that’s where the problem is, because homes will never be outfitted with “smart” HVAC systems because it’s not cost-beneficial right now to any parties (builder/contractor/buyer). I take that back. If you pay to play, you can have it.
How about the utopian but simple idea of controlling each vent damper in each room (with each room having separate temperature sensors) and when it’s time to go to sleep, opening up an iPhone app and tapping the preset BEDTIME, closing all the dampers in the house with the exception of the master bedroom and bathroom? Then in order to maintain the temperature that we set for those two perimeters (master bedroom and bathroom), your AC unit with variable speeds can run at a lower speed and for a shorter amount of time (thus, less energy) because the task of heating/cooling an entire house is made easier by heating/cooling an area of less cubic space (just the master bedroom and bathroom). That is intelligent.
Everything about Nest is fluff. If you really want to save money, follow this advice: dress comfortably in the house and open windows if the weather is pleasing, turn on your heating/cooling the least amount of time to satisfy comfortability, turn up the temperature when you leave home so your unit does not turn on, find out what temperature you can comfortably sleep at, etc. This is all pretty basic stuff, and the main thing to remember is the less your heating/cool unit runs, the more money you save. That’s the secret.