I installed a Nest Thermostat and it’s awesome

People who know me well know I have an OCDesque obsession with temperature monitoring.  On my desk at my current and (at my previous 3 jobs) I have a thermometer so whenever I think “gee, is it warm in here?” I don’t have to wonder.  When I first heard about smart thermostats, Nest didn’t even exist.  The EcoBee was the only game in town and it was expensive and I really couldn’t justify the cost, and it seemed… frivolous.

Buying a house, becoming more comfortable with DIY stuff, having more disposable income, the general sexiness of Nest and rave reviews from friends and colleagues who have one finally wore me down and I ordered one from Amazon last month.  Installation was pretty simple, though the wrinkle in my case (and one of the things that kept me from getting one sooner) was the fact that I have a separate thermostat for the central air and the heat.  I have no idea why, the house just came that way.  So part of the project was unifying the wiring for the two thermostats.  They’re about 8 inches apart, but between them is a stud.  I drilled a really hideous hole in the stud, shoved the wires through, and wired the nest up.  It was really easy and they even provide a level and screwdriver.

Hooking it up to wifi was easy, though I was a bit surprised when I created an account it didn’t just use my existing Google account.  Instead I now have a separate Nest account, and my wife had to make one also so she can control the thing from her phone.  This is annoying and dumb, but I guess relatively minor.

So far the things I like best about the Nest are the auto-away feature, which detects when you’re not home (lack of movement coupled with the location data relayed by your phone) and the ability to set as fine-grained a schedule as I want.  My previous thermostat was a programmable weekday/weekend one, but it only allowed 4 settings per day.  This wasn’t really a tragedy but didn’t really let me do what I wanted.  Plus it didn’t account for Daylight Savings Time so I’d have to go reset the time twice a year.  Another thing I really like is the reporting.  I feel like they could do a lot more with this than they are, but it’s still a lot more than I can get otherwise.

Energy usage report.
Nest Web UI (desktop)

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the Nest.  If it was cheaper I’d get additional units for the two other zones in my house, but they’re heat-only so not really worth it.  I debated telling my mom to get one, since she’s still using a mercury-filled Honeywell from the 80s, but … well, what’s the point?  I feel like for me it’s helped me save energy when not home, which is probably the main lasting benefit, aside from simply combining my two thermostats into a single one.



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