Author Topic: Programmable thermostats: which one is best?  (Read 7977 times)

maryofdoom

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Programmable thermostats: which one is best?
« on: December 23, 2012, 06:56:51 AM »
Hi friends,

I hope you're having a lovely holiday, and also, that you can help me out.

I succumbed to technolust and asked my husband for a Nest thermostat for Christmas. I thought "Oh, boy, I'll be able to save money on heating my house! And I'll be able to control it from my phone! How awesome is that?"

The answer: WAY LESS AWESOME THAN I THOUGHT.

I have had to call a local HVAC company twice. First, the original circuit board on the furnace first needed to be replaced, and then because a week after the new board was put in, it apparently has a short. We ended up taking the Nest out completely and putting the old thermostat back in, which sucks, because it doesn't keep accurate time, and therefore doesn't heat at the right times.

The Nest is back in its box and going back to Amazon, from whence it came. Fortunately they can give me a full refund. Please, no face punches - I've had enough of those from the husband complaining about how cold it is in here.

Can anyone recommend a good programmable thermostat? Here are my needs:
  • I live in Pennsylvania, where it gets fairly cold in the winter (lows of 20 to 25 F/-6 to -3 C)
  • I don't need to set the house higher than 68 degrees at any given time
  • We don't need the house to heat up in the mornings, but we do want it warm when we get home from work (around 5 PM)
  • We have a dog, but he's a big furry dog and doesn't mind if it's a little cold during the day
  • We don't have air conditioning, so we don't need to worry about that for the summer
  • It would be ideal if it was something that didn't need professional installation

If there's anything else you need to know, just ask. The HVAC guy is coming back tomorrow to look at the board, but until then, we have instructions to reboot the furnace every time it stops working. Which is a pain in the ass.

Thanks, everyone.

TheDude

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Re: Programmable thermostats: which one is best?
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2012, 08:34:16 AM »
Thats to bad. I had high hopes for the nest. We use the Honeywell RTH7600D. You can find it on Amazon for $73. Its missing somethings I would like (vacation setting and wireless/away form home adjustment) but I can't complain as its gets done what it needs to. Although it does seem dang expensive for a pretty old technology.

sol

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Re: Programmable thermostats: which one is best?
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2012, 09:29:00 AM »
All of the big box stores carry a variety of programmable thermostats for less than $30.  I've installed three or four different models in the past few years and haven't had one fail yet.

ShavenLlama

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Re: Programmable thermostats: which one is best?
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2012, 02:15:27 PM »
Seconding Sol's recommendation. Get the cheapest one from Depot. Ours has a Sleep, Wake, Leave, and Return, and M-F and Sat/Sun time zones. You can make changes with the push of a button, and once you set it its done. What do you need Vacation settings for? Shut it off when you leave! Or reprogram it to whatever temp won't freeze your pipes if that's an issue.

Ours was $20 or so, and installation was as easy as matching colors on the wires.

TheDude

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Re: Programmable thermostats: which one is best?
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2012, 02:57:56 PM »
I dont like the 5+1+1 thermostats. We tend to stay up later on Friday and go to bed earlier on Sunday. Also I like vacations settings because my wife is a teacher and she often has days/weeks off. It would be nice to just push a buttons once but yes not necessary.

Blackbomber

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Re: Programmable thermostats: which one is best?
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2012, 07:30:46 AM »
I've had three programmable 'stats over the years. All cheap, and all worked well. In my recently purchased current house, I am using the Honeywell basic round thermostat (an updated LED readout version of the vintage style one) that came with the place. I spent a while researching the newer programmable stats myself (remote access wasn't available to the general consumer when I purchased my last one). During the time I was researching, I actually decided to stick with the manual one. The reason is that I don't bring up the temperature for wake time any more. For the past two heating seasons, I realized I spend so little time at home in the morning, that I'm still warm from the bed by the time I hit the road. Especially if I shower in the morning. That little bit of cold motivates me to keep moving, also. The times my wife and I arrive home varies drastically, with no prediction - especially mine. And when I'm making a beeline for the office door, I'm NOT going to be fiddling with an online portal, or app to warm up the house. So I get home, crack the temp up, and go about my chores (let dogs out, look over mail, whatever), and the house is warm before I know it. I didn't realize it at the last house, but the programmable thermostat was becoming more of an intrusion than a help. Of course things aren't as cozy as they were before all the time, but I'm definitely saving more on heating than I would be with a programmable. Note that this only works for me because I don't bring up the temp in on the weekday mornings, and can't sleep with it at the higher temp. Otherwise I'd be forgetting to turn it down all the time.

kythuen

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Re: Programmable thermostats: which one is best?
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2012, 09:38:50 AM »
For what it's worth, we've had the Nest for two weeks, and we like it quite a lot.  We haven't had any issues with the electrical for the furnace.  Though I do think we turn the heat up more often because it's so easy.

(Note - I share a house, but not finances, with a friend who is distinctly not-mustaschian.  Which means I occasionally luck into luxuries I wouldn't buy myself.  I agree the price of the Nest is prohibitively high, but I didn't pay for it, so....)

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Programmable thermostats: which one is best?
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2012, 07:22:16 PM »
Just about any basic programmable thermostat will do what you're asking. Just make sure it's compatible with your setup before you buy.

But even a basic model can pretty easily allow you to set the temperature to be say, 62 in the mornings and afternoon M-F, heat to 68 at 4:45-11PM, then get down to 62 or whatever at night. You can probably pick one up for $40 or so at home depot or through Amazon.

Perhaps this $27 unit: http://www.amazon.com/Honeywell-RTH2300B1012-5-2-Programmable-Thermostat/dp/B007BHLUWM/ref=sr_1_6?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1356401965&sr=1-6&keywords=programmable+thermostat

More expensive units will allow you even greater levels of control, but it sounds like that might be enough.

The nest is pretty cool, but there's no way it'll pay for itself compared to a programmable thermostat set at Mustachian levels.

desrever

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Re: Programmable thermostats: which one is best?
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2012, 01:28:08 PM »
There's an easter egg in the Nest UI, if you look deep down in the settings menu, it sometimes says "It's just a switch." If you have a forced-air system or other system that's pretty responsive, most any controller should do.

Having said that, the nest does a pretty good job for us after a recent software upgrade that added support for radiant heating; it seems to learn and correct for the inertia, and prevents overshooting the target temperature. In a multi-zone setup like ours, I also assume that there's some benefit to having the controllers networked, but this might be unfounded rationalization. Nest purchase for us came out of our art/decoration budget and although the devices are beautiful and work incredibly well, I still do feel suckered out of $1000 by early-adopting four luxury on/off switches. All of this is very apropos to the recent article about Tiny Details Exaggeration Syndrome. It's not a Mustachian purchase at today's price point.

If you wait a few years, I bet you'll see competitive pressure and volume drive the prices of Nest or its clones down below $100.

kudy

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Re: Programmable thermostats: which one is best?
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2012, 04:11:41 PM »
I have baseboard heat with thermostats for each room - I am used to patrolling them with regularity.  Unfortunately, it would be cost prohibitive to get programmable controls for each room, but they do exist.  I don't really mind keeping an eye on the temp every day - I remind myself of this clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPtF2-YY0u0

Did the nest cause your furnace circuit board to break, or was that a coincidence?

maryofdoom

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Re: Programmable thermostats: which one is best?
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2013, 01:05:56 PM »
It seems that the Nest was the cause of the problems in the first place. I replaced it with a new Honeywell thermostat and we've been fine since. Lesson learned (albeit an expensive lesson).