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#371055 - 01/07/2018 23:19 Is a smart thermostat for me?
Phoenix42
veteran

Registered: 21/03/2002
Posts: 1383
Loc: MA but Irish born
We recently purchased a 1930 brick house, though the furnace is newer - it dates from the late 80s. While replacing the natural gas furnace is on our todo list, it will be a few more years before we replace it with something more efficient - unless it ups and dies...

In the mean time, does it make sense to replace the two thermostats with something smarter? Can I expect a pair of ecobee3 or NestE and some room sensors to eek out some energy savings? I can get either thermostat for a subsidized $50, but room would need to pay full price for room sensors.

Info list
  • Currently using two basic two wire (R & W) thermostates
  • The two floors each have their own thermostat in the hallways.
  • Hot water baseboard runs along most of the outside wall.
  • Schedule wise I work a 9-5 at the office, with my wife home with our two school aged kids.
  • Her schedule would vary, as would location within the house. WAF would require it to "just work".

Is it worth it? Would the ecobee3 or NestE be the better option, and why? Thx


Edited by Phoenix42 (02/07/2018 01:43)

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#371060 - 02/07/2018 20:01 Re: Is a smart thermostat for me? [Re: Phoenix42]
jmwking
addict

Registered: 27/02/2003
Posts: 683
Loc: Washington, DC metro
I use programmable (not especially smart) thermostats, mostly to tweak the heat or AC for time of day/season.

(We had a long discussion here that got into the thermodynamics of it...)

-jk

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#371072 - 06/07/2018 12:27 Re: Is a smart thermostat for me? [Re: Phoenix42]
Phoenix42
veteran

Registered: 21/03/2002
Posts: 1383
Loc: MA but Irish born
Thanks for digging up that old thread jk, it is a good read.

The more I did into what I'd need to do to implement this, WAF aside, and all the other things I need to do in this house, this project has gotten push down the list pretty far.

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#371075 - 09/07/2018 02:41 Re: Is a smart thermostat for me? [Re: Phoenix42]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12053
Loc: Sterling, VA
I'll just observe that the thread ran from 2011-13, and there's quite a bit of change since then.

I would imagine that you could get some cost savings from a smart thermostat, but I've never used one for that purpose. The main reason is that the optimal use case for such a thing is with a family with a regular routine and no roaming pets. In our house, I'm in and out of the house at completely unpredictable times all week, my kids are watched at home, and I have to cats wandering around setting off motion sensors.

My use of a smart thermostat has always been for remote precise control. I'm extremely finicky about my temperature settings, and will adjust one degree at a time throughout the day. To put it another way: the auto settings on thermostats baffles me, as I can't imagine allowing for a 3 degree temperature window.

Instead, I just like being able to change the temp from wherever I am. If I wake up in my bedroom at 3am and feel hot, I'll grab my phone and turn it down a degree. If I'm on vacation in the summer I'll set the temp to cool to 80 and before I start the drive back home I'll set it back down to 73.

When you're ready to actually purchase one, here's what I'll suggest:

-If you're an all-Apple household and have any interest in HomeKit, go with the Ecobee 4.

-If you're a mixed household and have Google stuff, go with the Nest.

The Nest is still the best-made device. Great build quality, looks fantastic.

The Ecobee looks ok but works with HomeKit. Unlike the super expensive Nest Protects, you can get additional room sensors for much cheaper. They'll give you motion/temp, which you can use to program an average temperature for your home to use instead of just the main thermostat.

I had the Nest, but sold it when I went HomeKit. The Ecobee 4 is not nearly as pretty or user friendly, which my wife wasn't wild about. But she likes that she can now see the temperature in our nursery. Just FYI: you can disable the Alexa support entirely, which turns off the bright LED they annoyingly included on the device. I recommend the Ecobee 4 because it has better future support for whatever system you have. It can support accessories like humidifiers (which I have). Otherwise the 3 is cheaper, looks a little sleeker, and you don't have to consider the Alexa stuff.
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Matt

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#371076 - 10/07/2018 03:08 Re: Is a smart thermostat for me? [Re: Phoenix42]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3717
An interesting question is how smart Nest and others have become about understanding the baseboard heating. In my house, where everything is forced-air (heating and A/C), it's simple for the controller. But when you've got to open and close valves, heating still happens after the valve is closed, so a really good thermostat would need to figure that out.

For contrast, when I was renting a place in winter that had sub-floor piped water heating and a "traditional" thermostat, I ended up just setting it to a constant temperature 24/7 because it took forever to warm up from off, and the controller wasn't particularly smart about it. (And because I wasn't paying for the heating bill...)

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#371077 - 10/07/2018 12:46 Re: Is a smart thermostat for me? [Re: Phoenix42]
tanstaafl.
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/07/1999
Posts: 5383
Loc: Ajijic, Mexico
I think I have a total of two thermostats in my house: one inside the refrigerator, the other in my water heater. My temperature regulation consists of closing some (but certainly not all) of the windows in the dead of winter when it gets really cold and the temperature drops all the way down into the 60's (F).

Probably a Nest system would be a bit overkill for me.

tanstaafl.
_________________________
"There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"

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#371088 - 11/07/2018 19:15 Re: Is a smart thermostat for me? [Re: tanstaafl.]
Phoenix42
veteran

Registered: 21/03/2002
Posts: 1383
Loc: MA but Irish born
:-)

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