Learning Thermostat - a huge impact on Energy Savings

Ok, I have had a couple programmable thermostats in the past... But, once again about 11 months ago I was doing my weekly (sometimes daily) stroll through the neighborhood 'big-box' home improvement store and back in the back past the garden section there is this little end-of-aisle display with a video playing and there is this neatly packaged 'Nest'.

And, I am intrigued enough to drop $250 USD on a thermostat. Again, another purchase on the fly with no pre-planning or research. And well, I was and continue to be VERY pleased with my Nest Learning Thermostat.

With my many Home Energy Conservation projects in our our home this past 18 months. I cannot quantify objectively how much impact the thermostat has made to our significantly reduced energy bills. But subjectively, I can honestly say it has been huge~!

Most importantly, and unlike my previous 'programmable' thermostats, I use this thermostat - more than passing down the hall and turning up or down the A/C-Heat. I am not standing in the hall with a head lamp and magnifying eye-glasses trying to thump-stumble with dip switches and obscure menus to 'program' my Nest.

I can program my nest from my Mac (PC), my smart phone and/or iPad. Mostly, I use my smartphone. It is an integrated part of our weekly life. I challenge myself to attain daily 'green-leafs'. The daily history is very nice to see.

The thermostat uses its motion sensor to set its state to  'Auto-away'. You can also easily, while heading out the door, set the thermostat to 'Away'.  With the wifi capability and from your iPhone/iPad you can change the 'Away' to 'Home' and set the thermostat temperature on your way back home to arrive at a  pleasantly adjusted home. Leave home for the weekend and forget to adjust the thermostat? No, problem. Auto-away will take care of it or you can turn off your A/C in Texas while setting in NYC.

It is simple and intuitive to use~! Very well worth the $250 USD I invested. I know that in the Texas summer my A/C electric bills saved me the $250~! Honestly, I can say this is the best $250 I have spent this year.

And, it wins my aesthetically cool meter - Form, Function and Fit~!

Background:

I am in the middle (hopefully, 90% complete) with various Home Energy Conservation projects in our 2,000 sq. ft. North Texas (Plano) home - R30 Attic Insulation, Radiant Barrier attic foil, attic Breeze solar attic fans, new windows, LED Lighting Replacement, etc... And, to share my trials and tribulations.

Project Cost:

$250 

Project Completion:

May 2012

Project Duration:

25 minutes

Views: 1006

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Comment by tedkidd on April 6, 2013 at 6:17pm
That is really fantastic! Are you willing to publish that data and write up the case study? The more we understand the successes/value people have experienced, the more we can know when/where such recommendations make sense.
Comment by Bob Blanchette on April 6, 2013 at 5:39pm

Tedkidd, I have the utility data to back up my savings claims with thermostat setback. Setback really has saved us about 1/4th on our summer utility bills. I can log into www.myogepower.com and any time to pull hour by hour reports of KWH and cost per hour. Winter utility bill weren't affected nearly as much as summer since we have gas heat. Spring/Fall setback helps to shut the heat down when we leave and the house won't be warm when we get home on the sunny afternoon.

Comment by tedkidd on April 6, 2013 at 10:41am
Btw. That's not anti-nest. Ironically it's anti Ecobee. I havent seen Nest claim "24% energy savings" intheir ads.

Lack of easy access to utility information seems to magnify the disservice. For example - Marie actually tried to perform analysis, certainly at some effort, and was left with comparing her consumption to some invisible "average neighbor."

It shouldn't be so difficult for us to perform analysis of EE improvements. Leaves too much room for fraudulent products and claims to harm consumers without them having tools to see it.
Comment by tedkidd on April 6, 2013 at 10:19am
People are funny.

We feel we need to "justify" buying toys by calling them tools.

Then we use all kinds of distortive bias to confirm our beliefs that the toy purchase is performing its supposed tool task. This is simply human nature. To deny this applies to any of us is a lie, or sign of self delusion.

I'm seeing all kinds of "saving" justifications, but not much in the way of proof. I had gravity fed oil when I first bought my home, and I bought a fancy thermostat that promised to pay for itself in energy savings without sacrificing comfort.

Control and comfort went out the window. The lag of high mass and slow recovery caused massive swings.

I persevered, hoping the $ promised would follow. A year later when I did the analysis, my consumption had gone up.

Dropping your thermostat to 50 may cause your structure to rot. The energy savings won't justify the repair, but you want to operate your home assuming that risk, have at it. As far as the savings, show me 2 years worth of bills on either side of when you started employing setback. If there is no rigor in your analysis, don't be surprised that I'm speculative of your self justifying attempts to claim savings.

I like toys. I've tried to stop lying to myself about the reasons I buy them. I doubt I'm always successful. I'm human.

When I make EE investments, I track them with rigor. I try not to confuse the two.

Ethically I would have great difficulty recommending a setback thermostat as an investment that will justify on savings alone to a client. The situations where I have confidence they can cost justify, where the money wouldn't be much better spent elsewhere, are very very rare.
Comment by Tom Delconte on April 6, 2013 at 9:55am

Can we walk into Lowes and get a cheap working Carrier Comfort Choice Thermostat like we can get a cheap, basically non-working Hunter Wifi thermostat right now, for $79? Just wondered. Somebody please help me, I need a new thermostat that hooks up to the internet like I need a hole in the head!

Comment by tedkidd on April 4, 2013 at 7:49pm
Sa- lick!
Comment by Bob Blanchette on April 4, 2013 at 7:44pm

I have a thermostat that will run circles around any conventional programmable in terms of energy savings. It's the carrier comfort choice and combined with OG&E's Smarthours Program it can really save the big bucks. IMHO demand response pricing is where energy costs will really be saved.

A big issue with Nest is no control over "installer options" typically found on most other thermostats in the same price range. Cycle time, temp swing adjustments are non-existent on Nest. Nest has a nasty behavior with heat pumps, cycling the compressor off when the AUX heat satisfies the room temperature. Nest also requires a common wire connection for most installs, even though they claim it can work without it. Other wifi stats are at least honest and say a common wire connection is required.

Comment by Dale Stephens on April 4, 2013 at 5:18pm

Marie - Yes, you are correct. Our old thermostat stayed at one set-point. And, remained there all day. While we were away at work during the day, our home stayed set at 69-70 during the winter and 72ish during the summer. Now, with a programmable thermostat our Heat-A/C will be 'OFF' during the day while we are away...  I have encountered 'zero' bugs this in 12 months of use. And, I too find the anti-Nest responses intriguing?

Comment by Marie McMahon Meehan on April 4, 2013 at 12:40pm

Ted Kidd,

The savings would depend on the leakiness and insulation of your home and the number of hours the home is unoccupied.  My husband and I both work so our thermostat setting goes down to 50 from 7am to 7pm.  I'm also a fan of big fluffy bedding so the thermostat is set to 62 degrees from 9pm to 5am.  As a result, our OPower report states that we use 49% less than our efficient neighbors and 70-something% less than our average neighbors.  We still paid about $130-$160 a month for natural gas in December, January, and February; you can calculate the $ savings relative to our efficient and average neighbors.  Our house is perfectly comfortable when we are home. 

Also in regard to Dale's savings in Texas, I believe Nest has coding that reduces compressor run times in oversized central cooling systems (ie almost all residential systems) which can result in significant additional savings.  This may be a significant factor for energy savings in primarily cooling climates like Texas.

Comment by tedkidd on April 4, 2013 at 9:05am

Marie, without any sacrifice in comfort, how much energy do you think can be saved by turning your thermostat back?  

Do you think this behavior can save you $500 a year?  $50?  $5?  

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