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Nest Thermostat: First Month Review

December 31, 2012

Well, it’s been just over a month since we installed our Nest Thermostat. I do like the thermostat (my wife’s opinion is vastly different, though) but I can’t say that it’s been an entirely wonderful experience.  Here is a summary:

  • Physical installation was a breeze, even though I had never installed a thermostat before.
  • I opted to program a basic schedule on the Nest basically matching what I had before.  I set up the program on my iPad, which was pretty easy to do — certainly the easiest thermostat I’ve ever programmed.
  • I then tried to finesse our schedule to reduce the heat in our house (by two degrees) when my wife is usually away, and to have the house back to normal temperature by lunch time.  While it was easy to schedule, my wife objected (she was home more often than not that week) so we agreed to keep the house programmed to the “normal” temperature and let the Nest’s “auto-away” feature do it’s magic.
  • The Nest, by default, has an auto-away temperature (during heating) of 50 degrees (F).  I usually keep my house at 72 during the day and 68 at night.  I bumped the minimum auto-away temp to 60 degrees, but after my wife came home to a “freezing” house I bumped the minimum auto-away to 68.  After Nest auto-awayed us while we were in the house (but on different floors) several times, I gave up on auto-away (disabled it).
  • The energy reports are great in theory, and I do like seeing how much/little energy I used on a particular day, but you should realize that the information is largely meaningless because there is no basis to compare it with anything — i.e., I have no idea whether or not the Nest is saving energy (money) because I have no idea of what my energy usage looked like before it was installed, and unless you have fairly stable environmental conditions it’s hard to know how you did day-to-day.  So while cool and maybe interesting, it’s kind of gimicky in my opinion. 
  • On top of that, the energy usage report in my case is flakey — the callouts and summaries are often flat-out wrong.  I have some screenshots and commentary, below.  My favorite example is that  Nest is treating our schedule as an “adjustment” and saying that it caused above average energy usage, even though we have the same schedule every day.
  • I sent an email to Nest’s customer service on Dec. 5 explaining these issues (via their online form).  I got a canned response saying that they would contact me within 72 hours.   On Dec. 16th I still had not received a response, so I sent another message using their online form with the same canned response.  I did finally hear from Nest on Dec. 23rd.   While they did appologize for not responding sooner, they told me the firmware on my Nest must be corrupted and to update it — with no instructions other than a link to a tarball and that I would need a USB cable (gee, that’s descriptive, thanks).  I haven’t yet had a chance to even research how I might do this, but I plan to do it in a few days.

Here are the screenshots:

Nest 6 This might be correct: I do have the temperature set to go down to 68 degrees at 11pm.  I’m not sure if “Auto-Schedule” implies my (manual) schedule or the automated scheduling that they claim to have.  I would think the later, because otherwise it should just be “Set by Schedule”.
Nest 5 Kind of correct. I have the temp set to be at 72 degrees by 7am. But, I’ve never made adjustments to the temperature via web or “mobile” — only my iOS devices (which are called out explicitly elsewhere) so this seems odd.
Nest 4 Kind of (again). I don’t know why the first sentence is there, but I do have it programmed to reach 72 by 7am, as noted above.
Nest 3 This just confuses me (I don’t get up at 3am and adjust the temperature on my Nest). And it’s present almost every day (the only time it’s not is when I say I’m Away).
Nest 2 My favorite message. We did not make any manual adjustments to the Nest on this day (and almost never do).
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