We bought our house in New Orleans in January of 2011 and moved in finally that March. Now, if you're unfamiliar, the climate in New Orleans is subtropical -- that is, it's freakin' hot and humid most of the year. We don't really have a fall -- it's more like a "Post-Summer", much like our Spring is really just "Pre-Summer". So you can imagine how much our A/C units run every year.
Our house came with a pretty basic Honeywell programmable thermostat. It was digital and could set a schedule for heat or cool. It worked, but Rhea and I have very different schedules. At the time, we were both in school and our work schedules were not at all the same. But we never really considered things like a thermostat being an issue. This was our first house -- we didn't really have a baseline for what was "good" and what was "bad".
Then, one August night around 9pm when it was still 85 degrees or so, our A/C stopped working. Oh, the fan would blow -- just warm, moist air. I did some troubleshooting and I determined it to be out thermostat. Being 9pm, the big box DIY stores were closed or about to close before I could get there. So, I ran to Walmart and bought the cheapest programmable stat I could find.
It served its purpose for a while and we kind of ignored it because we were getting married that November and you tend to focus on that. Luckily, our friends and family are very generous and we were able to purchase a Nest. I had heard about them and had been anticipating being able to get my hands on one.
The Nest Arrives
It was extremely easy to install. Nest does a great job of making it easy, but, installing a thermostat is super simple anyway. Think of the Nest as the iPod of thermostats. So, since we've installed our Nest in February of 2012 and it's now June 2013, I thought I'd talk about how a full year (and then some) with the Nest was.
It took about two weeks for the Nest to learn our habits of when we'd be home and when we slept, and when we woke up, but it learned them really well. After the first 10 days or so, you never have to touch the Nest again. I love the Auto Away feature -- if we're not home for 2 hours, it puts itself in away mode, where it basically puts the cool temp in the 80s and the heat temp in the 50s so that it's not cycling on when you're not home.
Another feature we use almost constantly is the ability to control the temperature remotely from our cellphones, anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. The best use of this was the particularly rainy February of 2012 when we and some friends went and stood out on Orleans Ave. to catch the Endymion parade in the pouring rain. It was a bunch of fun, but when we got back to the car we were soaked and shivering. No worries -- Rhea pulled out her phone and turned the heat on in the house and when we got home, the house was toasty and comfortable.
After Rhea started going to school fulltime and not working, our A/C was running at weird times and temperatures because of the drastic schedule change. So, I went into the Nest settings and erased our learned schedule and started the learning process over. This isn't a thing most people will ever have to worry about, but if your schedule does change drastically, retraining the Nest is a pretty trivial task.
You know how every few months your smartphone lets you know that there's a software update available and it brings a bunch of new features? The Nest does that too. They have been pretty consistently adding new features every few months -- for free! -- via a WiFi update. Most recently, they've introduced AirWave, which is my favorite feature. When your A/C wants to cool your house, it pumps coolant through a series of copper coils which become very cold and a fan blows air over the coils. That air is now cold and cools your house. However, those coils stay pretty cold for a while after the unit shuts down. That's wasted energy! AirWave combats this by shutting down your compressor unit a few minutes early, but keeps the fan running. This allows the fan to continue to push cool air through your house, without running your compressor, which is the biggest energy hog in your home.
Nest by the Numbers
But enough about convenience. The Nest saves you money by using less energy. I went through our past energy bills and did a comparison. I had figured the Nest was saving us money but I had never run the numbers before. My numbers back up their claims.
Prior to owning the Nest, we averaged 1077.375kWh per month, with a median kWh of 1226. Once we purchased and installed the Nest, our average kWh has dropped to 837.5625 and our median kWh has dropped to 672. That means we're using on average 22.26% less energy each month than we were before we bought the Nest. I know we could probably make this even more impressive by altering our temperatures in our schedule. Now, we use levelized billing, so it's hard to look at the dollar amount on our energy bill and see that the Nest is saving us money, but, as our yearly kWh usage drops, then our levelizing will drop (since it's based on an estimation of how much you'll use that year).
I'd say more than anything, though, the Nest is a huge convenience. I love everything about it, quite honestly, but saving money and energy are bonus features to me. Bonus features that I'm really happy about, though.