… at least for me they didn’t.
Two years ago, I asked whether I could really save money with Nest Thermostats? Yesterday, I learned the hard way that the answer to that question is no.
When I ask the question, I had convinced myself the auto-away feature and the ability to turn it off by my phone saved me around $25 a year vs. a regular programmable thermostat. After all, that’s only $2 a month, right? In reality, I almost never used my phone to shut off my Nest. The auto-away feature doesn’t do too much because my schedule is typical and I could program it with a regular programmable thermostat.
The Nest itself starts off as a fairly expensive device. The 3rd generation retails at ~$250. I was able to get two of the 2nd generation ones at $120 after rebates from my energy company and cash back on my credit card. I was lucky, I haven’t seen any generation at that price since.
Last March my Nest downstairs started behaving really weird. After a call to the cooling company that set them up along with the central air in our house, it was determined that the base was defective. Nests come with a base that attaches to the wall and a “head” that goes on top which works as the screen and dial/input device. After the technician explained it to Nest, they sent out a new base. It was a relatively easy fix and I was back rocking the world of Nest thermostats again.
A couple of days ago, my Nest upstairs started behaving really weird. On the coldest day of the year, the A/C kicked on and wouldn’t shut off. We had a problem with the A/C kicking on before and it was actually the cooling unit, not the thermostat. This time, I figured it was the same problem, one year later. Yesterday, the day the technician is coming out, I notice that the Nest is registering that it is 81 degrees and it’s no where near that. The Nest also isn’t showing that it’s cooling, but it’s running the A/C non-stop.
The technician looks at it and explains that the base is busted. I figure, “No problem, I’ll call up Nest and they’ll ship me out a new one like they did 7 months ago.”
Nope. The 2-year warranty expired in February. They shouldn’t have technically sent out the base on the one that broke in March.
I can’t even buy a replacement base. Nest isn’t allowed to sell them. The only option was to buy a new Nest. This is despite the fact that I have a working head unit.
At this point I’m frustrated on so many levels. I almost felt bad for Michelle P, the Nest Senior Technical Support, who took my call.
I’m frustrated because:
- The whole point of Nest is to save people money. That’s the sales pitch.
- I spent $159 on the house visit to find out that it was my Nest going crazy. Michelle said I should have called them first. Well, my experience told me it was likely the cooling unit itself. Also, I find it odd that they’d suggest, “Well, you should just assume that our product is just junk and we’re the problem.”
- They actually think I’d be interested in buying another Nest. That’s after the two previous Nests were defective. And after they refused to allow me to buy the $10-15 part to make it work again.
Michelle tried to explain the 2-year warranty is like an iPhone. I might have cut her off early, because that’s so far off-base. The expectation of a thermostat is that it lasts for years and years. In my parent’s house we had the old dial ones for at least 25 years before switching to the programmable ones. Those programmable ones have lasted another 15 years. I don’t know how much they cost back then, but they probably were around $39 or less.
So my expectation was that a $250 thermostat designed to save me money would last at least 15 years. After all it has no moving parts like my washing machine or dryer. Unlike a computer, it isn’t going to go obsolete because the software doesn’t need to change. Unlike an iPhone, I’m not bringing it around with me subjecting it to drops or any kind of stress. If anything should break, one would think it would be the head part that has the guts of the computerized thermostat, not the base.
Michelle tried to be helpful in offering a 20% voucher off a new Nest from the Nest.com website. Even if I was interested in buy another lemon from Nest, the Amazon is selling the same Nest for 24% off. Nest’s very limited “olive branch” to make me happy backfired as I would lose money by taking advantage of it.
I’m so frustrated by this experience that I can’t think of a good way to finish this article. I think you should beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. On one hand there’s the marketing pitch that a product may save you money. On the other, there’s the policies that end up costing you a lot more.
Thanks for the article and the warning. I wasa considering a wifi enable replacement for my sprinkler system base and the tech mentioned that sometimes too much technology just doesn’t pay off.
Lazy Man says
I’ve been looking at a wifi sprinkler system as well. I’m a sucker for most things that work with my Amazon Echo. Maybe I’ll never learn. At least I haven’t bought it yet.
lexi cass says
I have had Nest for several years and it has NEVER worked for me – I get up at different times and do to bed at different times – so when I go downstairs in the am, I turn my AC to a higher temperature to save money – then my Nest ignores the temperature I set it at and goes to a much lower temperature than it was the night before or any time I am in the area! I never keep the temperature at 74 anymore as I try to keep it at 76-78, yet every time I leave the area, the Nest goes to 74! This things costs me a ton of money. I do not know how to turn it off. Wish I would have never bought it. I foolishly bought the hype! Want to throw it out the window!
I never quite understood how a wi-fi thermostat could save money over a programmable thermostat…but I still want one ¯\_(?)_/¯
And even though I have the Nest camera (one made by Nest and another made by Dropcam before Nest bought them) and a Nest smoke detector, I’m looking at the ecobee3 thermostat because it has remote sensors that can be placed in different rooms. The ecobee3 can be programmed to set the temperature based on the average temperature of all the sensors or based off a sensor in a specific room and for my house, this would be great.
Lazy Man says
The remote sensors would be useful for us. I often keep the upstairs bedroom doors closed to keep the dogs I sit out. This keeps the rising heat trapped in the hall where the thermostat is. The rooms are often too cold because the thermostat didn’t know that it was cold where the heaters actually are.
I have a Nest thermostat and Rachio to govern our gardens. So far so good!
Lazy Man says
Lightserve, you need to get yourself an Amazon Echo :-)
+1 for the Ecobee3. I bought the previous model (one week before the 3 came out, DUH!) and like it so far. It was a replacement for my Honeywell programmable. The reason for my upgrade was the Wi-Fi part but also because my Honeywell would not work with our new heat pump.
The next time your air conditioner dies look into replacing it with an air conditioner with a heat pump. That is where you will see your REAL savings when heating AND cooling your house.
Captain Betty says
Standard programmable thermostat here; basically has weekday and weekend settings along with 4 programmable time slots. Set it and forget it. Never understood the “uber connected” nest. What’s the point?
Lazy Man says
I’m starting to think that the Nest is technology for technology-sake and not technology to solve a problem. It’s nice to be able to tell my Amazon Echo to turn on the heat upstairs, but if you stick to a regular schedule, it’s easier to just program it once and be done with it.
Maybe the gain is for people with irregular schedules. For example, I’m often working from home. However, maybe, I decide to go work from the library one day. The Nest would realize that I’m not there and not use the heat while I’m gone. For me this is a savings of a maybe a few dollars a year… I don’t think it happens that often.
I’ve been thinking about what I’d want Nest to do to “make it right” for consumers with defective products like me. (Yes, I consider it defective, because it broke with no negligence, intentional damage on my part, and in a safe controlled environment. My opinion is stronger, because it is the second failure of the base I’ve had.)
I think they should:
1) Offer to sell, at a reasonable price, the base portion if it breaks. If a car’s on-board computer breaks after two years, the manufacturer doesn’t say, “Well, we’re going to have to junk this car. It’s a total loss.”
2) Give at least a 7-year warranty… and probably a 10-year one. People looking to save money on heating (i.e. Nest customers) don’t want to spend $250 every couple of years. They should be protected from that potential disastrous outcome.