Oct 212014

3 Mistakes that you probably doing while using your programmable thermostat

Unfortunately for most of us, the dark and cold days of winter are coming. Before long we’ll be turning on our furnaces for heat, if you haven’t already turned it on yet (I have!). And many of us will waste money by fiddling with the thermostat. Here is a handy list of our typical mistakes:

1. Turning the thermostat up when it’s cold outside. Find the correct and comfortable temperature for you and leave the thermostat there – no matter how cold it is outside!! That’s the whole point of a thermostat — it turns on and off as needed to give you the temperature you want. It doesn’t care what the temperature is outside. It measures the temperature inside. So, please STOP playing with the thermostat.

2. Turning up the thermostat when you want to heat the room quickly. Let me tell you this; turning up the thermostat up won’t do anything to heat the room more quickly. It just sets the final temperature – that’s it!. If you turn it up higher, you will likely zoom past comfortable before you realize it. And then you’ll have wasted energy — and money.

3. Leaving the furnace on when you are away, so it won’t have to work so hard when you return. Your furnace doesn’t use more energy when it turns on and off. In fact, giving it time off is the best strategy for saving money. Buy a programmable thermostat that will lower the temperature when you’re not in your home and turn on your furnace just before you get home; or better a smart thermostat which will do all these settings by itself. You waste money heating a home when no one is in it (but don’t let the pipes freeze!)

If you don’t have a programmable thermostat yet; it’s perfect time to buy one – right before the real cold weather hits. Check our programmable thermostat list

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Jun 042014
Programmable and Smart Thermostats

Considering the weather conditions change and the nature goes from warm to cold, and back again, it is essential to modify your thermostat settings accordingly. By properly modifying the thermostat programs for the season and the current climate conditions, you’ll save dollars and make sure that your air conditioning and heating systems aren’t totally wasting energy. Additionally, you will help extend the life span of the furnace as well as your air conditioning unit by not forcing them to operate any harder than they completely need to throughout every season.


Ideal thermostat configurations for summer time:

During the warm summer season, I suggest you set your programmable thermostat to 78 degrees while you’re in the home. It’s not too hot, as well as not very cold. It really is good enough which keeps you from getting cold and does not make you break a sweat. In the nights you may want to increase the setting to around 82 degrees. This will assist you sleep much better and will not lead you to wake with freezing feet.

Needless to say, lots of people go on vacation during the summer time. Which means there will probably be complete several weeks when you will not be at your home. For all those periods you will be away from home, I suggest you to set your thermostat at 85 degrees. This makes your air conditioning unit to switch on if only the temperature goes up to ranges that could damage home electronics or foods in the pantry.

Very best programmable thermostat configurations for winter season: Continue reading »

May 282014
Nest Learning Thermostat - 2nd Generation - 6

Absolutely nothing impacts human beings comfort and ease or mood just like a comfortable, warm environment or a cool, energizing climate. However, with all the different technologies in your home, the humble programmable thermostat receives the the very least respect despite the fact that no one enjoys pricey power bills every month.

Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers (ex-Apple staffers) started transforming the understanding of the thermostat with Nest – one of the best smart thermostats in the market. By utilizing their own experiences from Apple (having been an employee on the legendary iPod), Fadell and Rogers elevated the unattractive home electronic to produce the Nest learning thermostat, a modern wall-mounted gadget built to make home energy management and automation attractive.

Since the time of Nest’s 2011 introduction, it has gotten plenty of curiosity, and not only just from customers trying to lessen their own power bills, increase performance or present a hot brand new product. Smart home companies such as Revolv and Control4 do business with Nest, and tinkerers cannot appear to keep their hands off it.

The thoughts range between basic smart watch applications to creative rewirings or even computer software hacks to increase Nest’s control and capabilities. Yet still, it really is amazing what can be done using the Nest smart thermostat when you use a small determined effort.

Basic Tricks

You can control the Nest smart thermostat through your smart phone (iOS or Android) or from the company’s website, and its automations enhance with time because the gadget understands your routines and personal preferences. Continue reading »

May 212014
Nest Learning Thermostat - 2nd Generation - 1

Actor Matthew McConaughey hawks one device in television commercials in a folksy twang.

Power utilities are signing exclusive deals with manufacturers.

Online tech forums are awash in discussions over different devices’ virtues.

More than five years after smart thermostats were introduced as an easy-to-use alternative to the current programmable models, manufacturers are reporting triple-digit sales increases. Continue reading »

Apr 302014
Carrier ComfortChoice Touch

An extensive study by Nest Labs Inc. on how customers use thermostats has found that the one — the sleek unit that is supposed to be drop-dead simple to make use of — fell in the middle of the pack on numerous criteria and features a design and style flaw that gave it a near-bottom rating for usability.

An additional important conclusion within the study of “smart” thermostats is that none was all that intuitive or helped users easily adjust settings in methods that save power.

The study was carried out by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) in California, where the thermostat plays an particularly important role in energy use. Residential thermostats manage one-quarter of all power consumption, far more than any California utility. On a hot summer season day in SMUD’s service area in the Central Valley, home air conditioning accounts for about a third from the utility’s 300-gigawatt peak demand.

“What we discovered is that clients actually do possess a challenge utilizing thermostats. They are not in a position to use them really well, they discover the interface nonintuitive,” said Lupe Jimenez, a senior project manager at SMUD who managed the study. “You’d think by now the industry would have gotten about to it.”

A brand new generation of “smart” thermostats wirelessly connect to other devices inside the house. They may be being sold by alarm organizations, big-box shops and cable providers with the promise of managing energy use without having significantly input from the occupant (EnergyWire, April 14). Nevertheless, the study makes clear that the new connected thermostats aren’t a great deal easier to manually system than the old “dumb” thermostats.

The results for Nest had been surprising, especially offered that the company’s founder and CEO, Tony Fadell, led the design in the original iPod and brought Apple’s design aesthetic to Nest. In February, Google acquired Nest for $3.two billion.

The survey was absolutely nothing if not extensive. A total of 163 folks in SMUD’s service area participated, selected to represent a balanced sampling of gender, age, race, earnings, education and house ownership. Participants were videotaped to measure how long it took to execute tasks having a thermostat, filled out questionnaires and participated in follow-up interviews.

The study looked at the “walk-up usability” of a thermostat — in other words, with out any guidance or even a manual. Ten “smart” thermostats had been inside the study, together with two “dumb” thermostats. Every participant compared two thermostats side by side, and each and every thermostat was evaluated by a minimum of 26 folks.

The all round winner was the Carrier ComfortChoice Touch, which came in initial in each overall ease of use and general really feel and sound. Ninety-one percent of those that tried it known as it their favorite thermostat. Runners-up were the Ecobee Smart  Si and Emerson Smart Energy. (I will test both of them very soon, and will publish the review in here. Please be around :-) ).

Pitfalls for the Nest

In general ease of use, Nest came in 11th, second in the bottom, behind even the two “dumb” thermostats within the competitors. In all round feel and sound, it came in seventh. In all round look, Nest came in fourth. On the rating of “task efficiency” — how extended it takes to complete a specific function — Nest came in second from last.

The study found that most of the dissatisfaction with Nest came down to a single function: the dial. As opposed to all other thermostats tested which can be boxes controlled by buttons, the Nest is essentially a circle which is manipulated by pushing and twisting the entire unit.

“More than half from the participants that tested the Nest — 16 of 28 — had been unable to figure out the input mechanism at all or till the really end. Because of this, the Nest garnered a really low 38% Activity Efficiency score,” the study noted.

It added, “Removing those frustrated users who couldn’t determine the dial, the efficiency score changed to put Nest in first for efficiency and fourth for preference.”

The capability to utilize a thermostat without having a manual is vital in managing the energy use of the numerous properties where the thermostat is currently on the wall when a brand new renter or homeowner moves in.

“A customer who buys a Nest and brings it home is probably not going to possess the problem. But if somebody moves into that residence, that client might not have the ability to figure it out,” Jimenez stated.

Participants in the study stated they liked that the Nest was sleek and modern-looking and thought the dial and also the app had been easy to utilize. On the other hand, they thought that the screen was as well little, that the menu was hard to decipher and that it was hard to get started.

Jimenez stated that SMUD would base its future acquisitions of thermostats around the final results of this study. Moreover, she hoped that it would nudge the whole thermostat market to produce user encounter a priority.

“The question remains … regardless of whether the new thermostats will be utilized in a way that actually aids consumers use less energy,” the study said. “While it’s also soon [to] pass judgment on the far finish of the communications path, we are able to say with some certainty that these new requirements is not going to impact power savings if clients don’t like or can not determine how you can make use of the new thermostats.”


Apr 172014
Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat

Most commercial buildings use some form of time of day control for the heating and cooling systems.  Larger buildings are often equipped with centralized building management systems (BMS); however, the vast majority of buildings that are not large enough to justify these often costly systems must rely upon programmable thermostats.

Programmable Thermostats come with a very wide variety of features, ease-of-use and functionality.  Their price range varies, starting anywhere from $20 for a simple unit to $300 for “fully loaded” models.  Almost all of them are able to accept unique programs for each day of the week.  Some thermostats even allow for extraordinary events such as holidays.

The newest generation of programmable thermostats are called “smart thermostats” and include features such as electric meter communicability, remote access control via a computer or cell phone, and in some cases they may even learn and adapt to occupancy profiles.  Although growing in popularity, smart thermostats represent only a very small fraction of the installed base in commercial buildings.  Many of the more popular ones still have somewhat limited applicability to commercial HVAC systems.

So what’s the problem with programmable thermostats?  It’s basically this: rarely are they properly programmed or fully utilized.  Almost universally, their utilization isn’t optimized. There are a variety of reasons for this, so let’s explore a few.

If you have ever had teenagers living in your house, you know how maddening it can be to find lights illuminating an empty room, doors ajar, computers and televisions left on and even windows open while your heater or air conditioner is running.  This isn’t because they are bad people; it’s just that the month’s utility bill doesn’t come from their allowance.

The same problems usually exist in commercial buildings.  The occupants most directly affected by the HVAC systems don’t see them, and are very rarely the ones to pay the bills.  Those of us who are “comfort professionals” can attest that there are many varying opinions as to what the “right” temperature is.

We certainly all have seen this: an occupant sneaks by the thermostat, cranking the temperature up to where only inhabitants near the equator might find it comfortable.  A few minutes later, another staggers over, and before mass dehydration sets in, drops the temperature to where the windows begin to frost.

This causes building owners and managers to resort to imprison thermostats in silly looking cages, which often exacerbates the frustration that occupants feel over their comfort control. Some occupants become very creative, and find clever ways to trick and open these thermostat covers, or trick the thermostat’s thermometer.  So, at minimum, there is often a conflict between the interests of the occupants, and those who foot the bill.

Let’s examine another major—yet simple—reason why programmable thermostats don’t work well to save energy: the person with the vested interest in the energy costs isn’t the one programming the thermostats.  Well-intentioned owners, managers and maintenance staff usually will input a basic program at the time of installation, but rarely is there someone to regularly review these programs, which is necessary to tweak them to reflect the current schedule and usage of the building.  As the saying goes, “out of sight out of mind.”

Unfortunately, many programmable controls aren’t intuitive to use, let alone program. Documentation gets misplaced, and the previously trained operators forget, get transferred, or simply aren’t available.  Service providers typically don’t have access to the key person who can make decide on the necessary programming parameters of daily, weekly and annual schedules, let alone what the “appropriate” temperature levels are.

It’s extraordinarily uncomfortable for the service provider and or installer, to be asked to install a “dummy thermostat.”  Simply, these are thermostats that are placed for the occupants to fiddle with, yet don’t control anything except, often their perceptions.  Thankfully we very rarely get these requests.

Some of the newest smart thermostats are relatively inexpensive and accept basic time-of-day programming, yet will automatically reduce HVAC system operation when there is no activity observed.  We call these occupancy based smart thermostats. They allow the occupant to easily adjust the temperature and override a setback program (i.e. working late or on weekends) while still allowing the building manager to pre-program set point limits to reasonable levels.  They can be networked via innovative wireless networks, have remote accessibility, can be connected to the HVAC unit with wireless connections, track energy utilization and consumption, and even look attractive.

A lack of maintenance, faulty installation and poor designs are often the cause of discomfort within a building.  Thorough and comprehensive maintenance will identify and eliminate many of these maladies, but the newest generations of occupancy-based smart thermostats are useful tools in minimizing wasteful operation and delivering optimal occupant comfort. Most of them compile and display information about current and historical usage enabling owners and occupants to make more informed decisions about system usage. Allegedly it was this type of occupant activity and usage that attracted Google to recently buy Nest for a whopping $3.2 Billion.

The bottom line;

  • buy a programmable thermostat (preferable a smart one)
  • program it properly
  • update the program whenever necessary
  • check the thermostat settings regularly (in case someone plays with it)




Feb 142014
Nest Learning Thermostat - 2nd Generation - 5

There was quite a bit of confusion surrounding Google’s recent acquisition of smart thermostat company Nest. As usual, privacy concerns about Google “spying” on people in their own homes were brought up, but an even larger question was what exactly an internet advertising company wants with a thermostat startup.

A new report on smart thermostats could shed light on what Google’s plans for Nest are. Market research firm Navigant Research today released a report showing that the market for smart, programmable thermostats could take in over $1 billion by the end of the decade. The firm estimates that smart thermostat revenue will top $1.4 billion by 2020, far more than the estimated $86 million the industry took in during 2013.

Navigant believes that current smart thermostats are limited by their ease-of-use and their limited energy savings. The firm believes that these hurdles will be passed in the coming years, with consumers embracing such technology. A move toward more home automation in general in the tech industry is also seen as a factor that could drive smart thermostat sales in the years to come.

“Large retailers, including Lowe’s and The Home Depot in the United States and B&Q in Europe, have begun selling smart thermostats, signaling that sales of these devices could grow in coming years,” said Bob Lockhart, research director at Navigant. “It remains to be seen, though, whether marketing efforts on behalf of these retailers will raise the interest of a large pool of customers who are not already planning to replace an existing thermostat.”

By Sean Patterson · February 12, 2014