Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Friday, September 20, 2013

Let The Heating Games Begin!

We bought a Nest.

Yesterday on the way from one errand to another errand we stopped at Home Depot, and bought a Nest.  

Nest is the ultimate in home thermostats, and was invented by the very same person that brought us the iPhone.  It is well designed, attractive, and by no means, a cheap set back thermostat.  Not by any means.

We have had a programmable thermostat since we bought this old house, and it worked as it was intended.  We set a low temp for the night, and a wake up temperature.  All other times of the day were handled a la carte since I work an abnormal schedule, we only kicked the heat up if we got too cold.  Yes, it worked.  It worked as it was intended to work.

So is the Nest a big, major improvement in thermostats, or just some good looking hi tech, digital gadget stuck on my wall?

Yes.  Yes it is.

This thing is not only smart, but it learns every time it is adjusted up, or down.  It senses when you walk up to it, and it's black, round screen lights up to reveal the temperature, and what the temp is set to.  When you walk away, it turns it lit screen off.  It knows when you are home, and when you are not home.  It will set it self to the away setting.  It will allow you to check your homes settings, and control it live,and in person, or from your smart phone at work, or the restaurant late in the evening so that home is warm, or cool, when you return.

The Nest allows you to either enter a set schedule of when you want your heat to come on each part of the day, or allowing the Nest to learn your schedule on its own.  The learning part is what the Nest was designed for.  It will learn when you manually adjust your thermostat each day, compare the inside temperature with the weather at your location, and remember it.  If you rise everyday at 5:00 and turn the heat on to 64f  to knock the chill out of the air, then the Nest will determine the time to heat time, and come on early enough to have your home at 64f when you get out of bet.  Or, you can have it just begin to heat at exactly 5:00 AM.  It is entirely up to you.  The Nest will also put some extra thought into those houses that have boilers, and radiators, and radiant floor heating in order to eliminate large temperature swings.

Each month, the Nest will send  you an email report of just how you did with your heating, or cooling, for that month.  It will congratulate you if your settings are saving energy.  It will tell you why your energy use has changed from the previous month.  It could be that there was more cloudy weather, or the Nest was in the Away mode more often, among other things.  The Nest will give advice on how to save more energy based on your overall usage.  Each time the Nest is set to a temperature that will save energy, 62f for heating, and 84f for cooling, a small green leaf will appear on the Nest.  The monthly report will tell you how many leaves you earned.  This is a wonderful incentive, and a great way to put your inner Energy Saving ninja in competition mode for more savings.

The Nest doesn't come cheap, but it can more than pay for itself in energy savings your first heating season.

Since we bought this old house we have tried to do whatever we could to save energy (read that as money).  New windows, caulking up air leaks, and watching how we tweak the thermostat.  We've done well.  From 10 oil deliveries our first year in 2006-2007, to just 3 last year.  All this in a house build in 1858 with little insulation, if any.  This past spring we had a new boiler installed, out of necessity, that will save us even more energy.

This heating season we are ready.  Not as ready as we would be if we had some insulation blown in, but with a new boiler, and now the Nest, I believe we are going to do very well.

I will post the reports the Nest sends to us each month for you to follow along at home.  If nothing else, it may give you some inspiration to become an Energy Saving Ninja yourself.  Heating costs are one of the largest expenses for families outside of the mortgage, and food.  Saving energy will not only make your wallet happy, but the planet smile as well.

1 comment:

  1. Wally, I have two Nests. I love them. HOWEVER!!... A compatible WiFi router is absolutely essential for it to work correctly. Why the router?.... Nest pings the router periodically basically saying, "here I I I am...." An incompatible router will cause the Nest to over-ping the router at a rate much faster than its normal interval which results in draining the battery. Both of mine went dead in a couple of weeks with my two wire heating system. When I added a third wire to the system, essentially giving the Nest lots of power, both thermostats actually got warm to the touch due to the over-pinging and the heating of the WiFi chip inside the Nest. Once my problem was traced to the incompatible router, I replaced it with a Netgear WNDR4500, my problem was solved. The Nests cooled down and I had a properly functioning system. But by then it was May, and I no longer needed them! So I'm entering my first season with both of them up and running as they should. The ability to actually see the current temperature of the house from anywhere in the world is something. Also, if you're out, you can raise the heat so you can arrive back to a warm home. They're a wonderful device, but take a little patience to work out possible wrinkles if you're installing them yourself.


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