Sunday, October 11, 2015

House Post: Nest Thermostat

When we rewired the house, we had to replace all of our old smoke & CO detectors in order to bring them up to code. There were, approximately, 8 million of the things throughout the house, either battery-powered or plugged in or you name it, of at least three different vintages.

So we yanked them all out and I piled them up to donate (those that were still up to code just not the right kind for our house because code is complicated), and ordered new ones. The electrician had brought the regular wired-in kind, but I took the plunge and bought three of the new Nest Protect smoke & CO detectors. They talk to each other via wifi, and they talk to my phone, and lo, they are awesome.

That is a really long way of saying that when Efficiency Vermont started a new statewide study of Nest thermostats, offering to give them to homeowners for free as long as we met a few basic requirements (check) and allowed access to our utilities consumption for the next two years (check), I jumped on board.

I installed it that night, I was so excited. Here is a step by step.

Old thermostat. Contained actual mercury, non-programmable. I brought it to our local hardware store for proper disposal and got a $5 gift card. #wining

Ugly hole in the wall, with old wallpaper behind. Awesome. I debated cleaning this up, re-mudding it, etc., but then decided to deal with all of that when we do the wallpaper & repainting in the hallway.

New Nest mounting plate, wiring not yet done.

Wired! After our rewiring earlier this summer I have probably more than the average experience at handing my home electrical stuff, but once I squared away which wires go where (with the help of the booklet & the internet) this could not have been easier.

Then we told it to find wifi. This took a little while because it had to refresh its software once it did connect.

And done! Bonus hilarity because our wifi network is named SkyNet thanks to the husband.

Here's my Nest app. I can check in on my smoke detectors and make sure they are all working properly, and also dig into my thermostat even from work, which is awesome.

So: yes, we really do keep our heat set at 60. Welcome to Vermont. The "fallback" temp is 50, which is what it will be when we are away from the house. I am being VERY conservative with the heat during our first winter because a) I am not rich and b) I just don't know what the energy use patterns for the house are yet, ie how much oil it really takes to get & keep it up to temperature.

The good news is that the Nest app helps us figure that out. It tells you how long the heat was on for, what times it came on, and the thermostat itself starts to automatically figure out when you're home and when you're away and will adjust the temperature for you.

It will also start to learn how long it takes our heating system to turn on & produce heat, and then how long it takes the house to get up to temperature. So it will adjust accordingly: it will turn it on when it needs to and make computer-educated guesses as to how long it needs to stay on.

Huzzah for technology!

At $200 each, I knew that I wanted one but it was probably not in the house budget for this season, so I was VERY excited to get this for free in exchange for participating in a cool energy-saving study. Win-win.


  1. I LOVE the Nest products! My MIL has the thermostat and somehow it keeps creeping the set temp down (it was summer after all) -- we're not sure if a sneaky little teenager was doing it, or if maybe Nest was losing its mind. My vote was teenager!

  2. We have the smoke detectors and LOVE them. I really, really appreciate the little light-up during my midnight wanders in the dark. We're hoping to get the thermostat pretty soon and still need to replace a couple detectors. Awesome products!

  3. Vermont is the BEST. I probably should have looked into the Mass Energy Save programs (I know they do insulation and solar panels, but we're not really there yet) but my husband went ahead and bought an EcoBee which we have yet to install. He looked at Nest too and decided that EcoBee would work for our place best for whatever reason, bu same idea - I'm gonna love checking in to see if the hubby remembered to turn the heat down when he leaves for work mwahahaha. but if he does forget we can just do it on our phones! Huzzah technology!!


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