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Thread: Nest and other energy efficient schtuff.

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    Default Nest and other energy efficient schtuff.

    Since the lounge is anything and everything, I'm going to ask about something non-laser related. I just became a homeowner this week for the first time. Even as a renter I have been concerned with energy efficiency and other such stuff, since the electric bill naturally is still my responsibility so, I'm wondering now about these smart thermostats like the Nest. Does it really make that much of an energy use difference? And enough to justify the $200 outlay to buy one? Or, is it just a feel good item for people who have grown too lazy to adjust their existing $30 thermostat? The geek in me likes the idea of some of these various home automation devices like telling Alexa to turn on or off the kitchen light but, at the end of the day is it worth $30 to buy the outlet or, better to just get up and go turn it on or off? If you have any of this stuff, what do you like and would prefer to now not live without? What's in your view was something that sounded cool but you now feel has been a waste of money?

    As a side note, I changed every single bulb in the house to LED yesterday. (Including attic, range hood, etc.)
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    ... less than an hour ago I've read an article about the "hazards of blue light in LED's and displays" -- the "cold white" LED's have too much of the 450nm, what's bad for our sight and reduces sleep quality ... better change again for "warm white"

    Viktor
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    Quote Originally Posted by VDX View Post
    ... less than an hour ago I've read an article about the "hazards of blue light in LED's and displays" -- the "cold white" LED's have too much of the 450nm, what's bad for our sight and reduces sleep quality ... better change again for "warm white"

    Viktor
    Almost every bulb is warm white. I used daylight white in the front and back porch lights and in the attic. I don't like the look of the daylight or cool white anyway.
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    ... I think, when calculating for reducing energy costs, then better thermal isolation and/or own energy generation by sun, wind or other "green" methodes will better pay off in the long run ...

    Viktor
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    I have a wifi thermostat and Echos in a few rooms. It's nice to tell Alexa to turn up the heat or ask for weather. I doubt it makes much difference with energy efficiency, though. Just set the schedule for what you want and roll with it.

    LED bulbs don't last as long as they are advertised for but most companies will send you a free one when they burn out early if you contact their customer service site. Don't go through where you bought it (ie Home Depot) or else you will feel warranty pain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bradfo69 View Post
    I'm wondering now about these smart thermostats like the Nest. Does it really make that much of an energy use difference? And enough to justify the $200 outlay to buy one?
    I bought a Homewell 7-day programmable thermostat about 15 years ago. Back then I paid around $70 for it. It works well, but I don't think it saved me all that much. I'm sure over the course of the past 15 years I've saved at least my initial $70 though. The funny thing is that after the first few years I started leaving it on "temperature hold" mode, which sort of defeats the purpose of a programmable thermostat! (Note: if you're the only one in the house and you plan to be gone most of the day at work, then you can realize more savings than most people.)

    These days the programmable ones are really cheap - like $30 or less - so if you don't have one it's probably worth buying one.

    The ones that connect to your phone are more expensive though, and personally they seem like "nice to have" gadgets more than anything. I don't think they're going to save you any more than a standard programmable would. (Arguably they might save less, since it's far too easy to adjust the temperature up or down while you're in the home if you can just do it from your phone.)

    That being said, my son has a Nest thermostat and he really likes it, so meh... I wouldn't pay $200, but if you could get one for $100 it might be worth it for the "cool gadget" factor alone.

    If you want to save money on your heating and cooling bill, insulation and weatherstripping is the biggest bang for the buck, followed by insulation, then window and door upgrades, and then upgrading the heat pump.

    Changing to CFL or LED lights can save you some money, but obviously lighting is a small portion of your bill. Still, it's low hanging fruit - especially with some of the deals that the power companies are starting to offer.

    Adam

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    I’m a home automation and “green freak”. When I built my home, I provided the light switches that I could control with my home automation software. A home that does what you want automatically is fun and convenient. I have three nests and the story is the same. In the Winter, I let the house cool down at bedtime and warm back up before it’s time to get up. Leave the house for work or vacation? It knows and adjusts the temp for you to save money. Plus you can tell it when you are on your way home so it is comfy upon your arrival. Now combine both with an Amazon Echo or . . 8 and really enjoy home control via voice command. Adjust several devices like lights, whole home audio and more with a single command like “Alexa, dinner time.”

    Does Nest save money over its lifetime? It probably depends on how much you are away from home.

    David
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    I bought one last year.

    Has an option to automatically change thermostat for "away" when your phone leaves the house.

    Also has other options for energy savings including a auto learning of what you do, to make it more efficient.

    Also options like turning off cooling when it gets close - Airwave
    and Sunblock that adjusts if it is in the sun to compensate.

    Based on my usage, mine will pay for itself in a couple years. So to me it was. But not for everyone.
    But I also paid about $130 from Duke Energy, on one of their energy saving specials.

    I easily saved an extra 5 bucks a month.

    Another one you might look at is the Glas from Johnson Controls which looks like it has an impressive set of features.

    My .02

    (Like you I put insteon in my house, both the nest and insteon are compatible with the iphone and other home automation systems like Alexa and Google Home.)



    Quote Originally Posted by dkumpula View Post
    I’m a home automation and “green freak”. When I built my home, I provided the light switches that I could control with my home automation software. A home that does what you want automatically is fun and convenient. I have three nests and the story is the same. In the Winter, I let the house cool down at bedtime and warm back up before it’s time to get up. Leave the house for work or vacation? It knows and adjusts the temp for you to save money. Plus you can tell it when you are on your way home so it is comfy upon your arrival. Now combine both with an Amazon Echo or . . 8 and really enjoy home control via voice command. Adjust several devices like lights, whole home audio and more with a single command like “Alexa, dinner time.”

    Does Nest save money over its lifetime? It probably depends on how much you are away from home.

    David
    Last edited by icecruncher; 05-18-2019 at 20:36. Reason: Note about insteon

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    We had 2 of the 7 day programable units one upstairs and one down. We installed them when we replaced our AC units with high efficiency 2 stage units. Shortly after that we added more insulation in the attic, and installed that aluminized bubble wrap material under the roof with ridge vents. WOW what a difference in the attic temp in the summer! A lot of heat flowed right out the ridge vents. I thought about running some copper pipe in that flow just below the ridge vents with the water that feeds the hot water heater. Never got that far. The attic insulation and heat barrier dropped our AC consumption quite noticeably.

    The thermostats were set to throttle back heating and cooling while we were gone during the day. It would have been nice to be able to remotely alter the settings when schedules changed, but not really needed. Thermal windows (triple pane) helped too.

    I agree about the blue in the LED bulbs. Wakes you right up! Something wired in our brains does that I’m sure.

    We sold that house when we retired and moved to Mexico. Our bills here are about half of what we used to pay, and we have about 3/4 of the square footage. And we never need heat!

    Steve

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    There's only so much that a thermostat can do to reduce energy usage. At the end of the day, it takes a certain amount of heating/cooling power to keep your house at the right temperature, and depending on your system that translates to a certain amount of electricity. Replacing an old system with a new more efficient (multi stage or variable heat pump, for example) and improving insulation and sealing of the structure will be more expensive, but will likely give you much better results. But if you're currently using a basic thermostat with no scheduling ability, then a better programmable thermostat set to reduce heating/cooling when you're asleep or at work will absolutely cut your energy consumption.

    That doesn't mean it has to be a super fancy smart thermostat, but they do have some nice features.

    We have a Honeywell Lyric (T6?) , and one feature I really like that is annoyingly absent from the cheaper thermostats but standard on most 'smart' thermostats is a circulate mode, where it just runs the fan periodically to move air through the house. We live in a narrow townhouse with neighbors on three sides, so in the summer there's a big difference in heat load between the first floor where the thermostat is and the upstairs. The circulate mode really helps even out the temperature and is obviously more efficient than having the fan constantly on (which can also cause problems with condensate drainage). Also the smart thermostats generally can do some basic modelling to be more effective at hitting their schedule, adapting to how long your system takes to move from one set point to another, and that can definitely help some with efficiency.

    If you have a highly variable schedule, then honestly the app integration may be a lot more valuable then you think. The ability to change settings on the fly without having to physically go to the thermostat and deal with a usually slow and annoying UI to change the schedule or mode means you're more likely to do it, and that can definitely improve you energy consumption if you get in the habit of turning the system back when you don't need it. Call it lazy, but I'm waaaay more likely to turn our system off when we don't need it now that I can do that from my phone instead of walking over to the thermostat.

    All that said, I don't know that I would have paid the $250 our thermostat cost, but if you can get a discount from your local utility to bring that down a bit, then sure, I'd say it's worth it. Or you can do what I did, and be related to an HVAC guy who just happens to have a spare smart thermostat lying around

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