I got a Nest thermostat about 18 months ago. I wanted to take advantage of its smart home capabilities and to use that to help reduce our electricity usage (both for its cost benefits and for the good it does the environment).
Nest seemed like a great choice. With all of the great rebates that were on offer to us in the Portland area, we paid very little for it, and we were excited about how we could customise our thermostat to do whatever we wanted.
Except, we couldn’t.
There is a feature on the Nest called Home/Away Assist. The idea is that when you’re not home (which Nest figures out by your phone’s location as well as sensors on the thermostat), it can raise the temperature to an “Eco” temperature so that you’re not unnecessarily cooling a house that is unoccupied. Makes a lot of sense, and we wanted to put that feature to use.
There’s one tiny problem with that. There are limits to what you can set your Eco temperatures to on Nest. You cannot set it below 76 degrees for cooling. For some people that might be fine. For us and our house, it was atrocious. If we let the internal temperature of the house rise to 76 degrees, on a day where the temperature is warmer than 85 degrees, the AC simply couldn’t keep up and bring it back down, so if we went out for the day, we had to suffer with a warm house until overnight when the AC could finally catch up.
I get what Nest is trying to do with this feature, but by imposing that hard limit, they’re making the feature completely unusable to a group of people, meaning that I was forced to keep the house at my comfort temperature all the time, so I’m not able to take advantage of one of the biggest opportunities to save energy with it.
I was so frustrated with this fake limit that in the end, I had a very extensive chat with Nest, trying to get them to tell me the secret code to get around this hard limit, but they said it was not possible. Since there was a two-year warranty on the Nest, I was able to return it for a full refund.
I quickly bought an ecobee to replace it and I’m so much more happy with it. I can customise it just how I want it, and most importantly, set my away temperatures to whatever suits me, rather than what Nest decides is best for me.
I don’t know if Nest are beholden to DOE or some other entity that is lining their pockets to keep that limit where it is, but it seems like such a ridiculous obstacle that doesn’t need to be there. If you’re considering buying a Nest, you should at least be aware that it’s not as customisable as you might have been led to believe.