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Is Smart thermostat worth the money for condo?

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  • Apr 21st, 2020 1:22 am
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Deal Addict
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Sep 22, 2016
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Toronto

Is Smart thermostat worth the money for condo?

I am looking into getting either google nest thermostat or ecobee 4. Is it worth the money for a 2bed room apartment?
How much money you save from having it?
14 replies
Deal Addict
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Oct 9, 2010
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Windsor
Smart thermostats only save you money over very basic thermostats, and that's assuming you're not the kind of person that will adjust the thermostat based on use.

A smart thermostat vs a very basic 7-day programmable thermostat are functionally identical from a cost saving perspective. You might claim Ecobee's ability to heat the room you want to the proper temp could theoretically save money, but generally it costs you more money.

The value of a smart thermostat is mostly in the data logging and remote access. But, again, a cheap wifi thermostat does all of that as well.
One who is offended by truth, has no place among those who seek wisdom.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2009
18734 posts
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Toronto
I don't find them hugely advantageous. I don't think it saves any money either, vs. a regular 7-day programmable thermostat.

About the best features for my Ecobee is that I can set the temp without walking over to the thermostat and that it has a circulation feature. Oh and it looks nicer on the wall.

BTW, I only have my Ecobee on the guest network. No way I'd put that on my primary WiFi network.
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
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East Gwillimbury
They don't save you any money on heating.

Any digital thermostat will offer some sort of programming. I have a Z-Wave thermostat that is part of my home automation and honestly, I never touch it. I program it based on the time and day and it changes twice a year. One for winter and one for summer. I could have done the same thing with any basic Honeywell programmable thermostat.
Deal Addict
Jan 21, 2018
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Vancouver
EugW wrote: I don't find them hugely advantageous. I don't think it saves any money either, vs. a regular 7-day programmable thermostat.

About the best features for my Ecobee is that I can set the temp without walking over to the thermostat and that it has a circulation feature. Oh and it looks nicer on the wall.

BTW, I only have my Ecobee on the guest network. No way I'd put that on my primary WiFi network.
I agree, they're interesting, but they don't save any money. Plus you'll have to deal with occasional technical issues, as with most smart home gear these days.

I like being able to ask Google/Alexa "What's the inside temperature?". I have it linked to my home automation routines so that the temp setting goes up when we actually get up in the morning as opposed to a fixed schedule, and vice-versa down at night when we actually go to bed. Remote control lets me turn up the temperature half an hour before I get home. I get a nice temperature chart (from Home Assistant) showing how the thermostat setting and the actual house temperature varied during the day. All nice, but not essential.

As for security, we should mention that putting it on your Guest WiFi network doesn't necessarily help security unless your Guest network is set for AP Isolation, which is optional with most routers. The AP Isolation feature is incompatible with local home control of your home automation devices by systems like Home Assistant or OpenHAB or others supporting local control, so in that case you unfortunately cannot have both isolation from your home network and local control at the same time.
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
15199 posts
12357 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
Any programmable thermostat WILL SAVE YOU MONEY
IF all you have now is a standard basic non programmable model
Like this

https://www.rona.ca/en/manual-thermostat
Or this
https://www.rona.ca/en/thermostat---res ... thermostat

Where one has to manually adjust the temperature setting
Otherwise it’s always sitting at the set point
(Which Is what most folks do ... set it at one ambient temp ... say 22 C = 72 F and forget it)

These were the builders norm ... up until the 1990s / 2000s

Then we moved on to the Programmable Thermostat era
Where folks were able to program their temperature preferences by day of week & time of day
https://www.rona.ca/en/programmable-thermostat-05225061

THESE WERE THE COST SAVERS
Cuz the thermostat REMEMBERED to raise & lower the heat to your preferences ...
HOME / AWAY
AWAKE / ASLEEP

The latest phase are SMART Programmable Thermostats
They do exactly the same thing as other Programmable Thermostats
Except they now use WiFi

So you can talk to them via Apple Siri / Google Alexa
Or adjust the temp on the go ... or remotely *
Some models ... even have sensors that know when you are in a particular room of your home
And adjust the temp accordingly to your preferences

* for most people the greatest advantage to the Smart Models
Are the ability to change the programming / house temp remotely
Example ... you can change the set point before you go on vacation
And then adjust it the day you return to where you want it to be when you get home
We use this feature a lot
So for example ... Winter vacation
We set the house AWAY in the 50s F
(Much much lower than it ever would be residing in the home )
And in the 24 Hours BEFORE our return we use WiFi to bring the house back onto its regular programming
So ... 72 F daytime & 68 F night time

Without a Smart Thermostat in the Winter months we’d be arriving home to either a VERY COLD HOUSE
Or ... we’d have had to have the person looking after our home while away
Remember to adjust the temp before we arrived
(Be that a standard thermostat or a regular no wifi programmable one)

BOTTOM LINE ...
As my house has been at a lower set point in my absence
YES ... I SAVE CONSIDERABLE MONEY on heating / cooling while on vacation

Is a Wifi enabled Smart Thermostat for you ... only you can answer that
But a regular Programmable is definitely the first step
If all, you have right now is a manual one
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2008
630 posts
158 upvotes
Leask
Just get one with wifi remote control.

I have both ecobee 3 lite and ecobee 4. Hardly any different
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2009
18734 posts
4911 upvotes
Toronto
Scote64 wrote: I agree, they're interesting, but they don't save any money. Plus you'll have to deal with occasional technical issues, as with most smart home gear these days.

I like being able to ask Google/Alexa "What's the inside temperature?". I have it linked to my home automation routines so that the temp setting goes up when we actually get up in the morning as opposed to a fixed schedule, and vice-versa down at night when we actually go to bed. Remote control lets me turn up the temperature half an hour before I get home. I get a nice temperature chart (from Home Assistant) showing how the thermostat setting and the actual house temperature varied during the day. All nice, but not essential.

As for security, we should mention that putting it on your Guest WiFi network doesn't necessarily help security unless your Guest network is set for AP Isolation, which is optional with most routers. The AP Isolation feature is incompatible with local home control of your home automation devices by systems like Home Assistant or OpenHAB or others supporting local control, so in that case you unfortunately cannot have both isolation from your home network and local control at the same time.
My guest network is isolated, on a completely different IP range. I don't have any real home automation devices, because I don't trust them, not just from a security point of view, but also from a reliability point of view. It's amusing that sometimes you have to reset a light bulb. I do not use Home Assistant because the Ecobee on the guest network cannot be seen, as you say.

I bought a new thermostat because my prior thermostat died. I bought the Ecobee because it was on sale, and because it included the circulation feature. Most lower end programmable non-smart thermostat do not have that CIRC feature. (For those unaware, that allows the furnace fan to run periodically when the heater/AC is off.)

BTW, I forgot to mention that the Ecobee includes a Power Extender Kit in each box, so I thought that would have been a bonus for my existing setup without a C-wire. (Smart thermostats require higher power than non-smart thermostats, and the usual old-stylesetups could not provide enough power.) Other smart systems do not include this power adapter or may use the power stealing method (eg. Nest) which is completely unreliable. It turns out in my case the PEK was unnecessary, since I already had a multi-wire cable in the wall, but it had only been wired up to the furnace without a C (probably due to a previous furnace) leaving other unused wires hidden in the wall. I just attached the additional unused wires and was good to go with powering the Ecobee.

https://support.ecobee.com/hc/en-us/art ... hermostat-

This is why Nest is not recommended on setups without a C-wire:

https://smartthermostatguide.com/no-c-w ... -own-risk/
Deal Fanatic
Jan 25, 2007
9438 posts
4882 upvotes
Paris
I used to travel overnights a lot and it was nice to be able to check the temp from the road of the house and adjust it up/down which any wifi tstat will do.

The only cost saving in any way I see with the Nest is that it will turn off your AC pump and still run the fan for a bit through the A frame.

I also like the circ feature which my old unit did not have.
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
3088 posts
2049 upvotes
Toronto
Only thing I use our Nest for is remote operation. I don't know or care if it's saving me money to be honest.

When we're away for a few days in the summer I can turn the air on an hour or so before returning home, monitor temp and humidity remotely, and adjust the temps from anywhere in the house with my phone or browser.

I don't use the scheduling features. We might fluctuate temps by 1-2 degrees over a 24 hour span.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2009
18734 posts
4911 upvotes
Toronto
For my non-smart programmable thermostat, there is a setting to allow keeping a temp until a specific time and date. So for example in the winter if we're gone for the weekend, we can set it to stay at say 14C until our arrival time back home.

The benefit of a smart thermostat here is I can adjust it after I leave if I forgot to set it beforehand, or I can adjust the date/time while on vacation if our plans change. But it's not a big deal.
Jr. Member
Sep 13, 2010
183 posts
44 upvotes
Toronto, ON
If you own your home and can find it on sale or can advantage of a government rebate program, you should definitely consider getting one. Like any proper renovation, I believe it adds resale value to your home. It allows you to easily customize your HVAC settings to your personal habits and schedule and completely turn off the system when you don’t need it. Be careful though as it can be a gateway to other home automation and smart devices which in turn can get expensive.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2009
18734 posts
4911 upvotes
Toronto
Bruised_Lee wrote: I believe it adds resale value to your home.
Really? It would affect my offer in a home sale at all.
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2009
18734 posts
4911 upvotes
Toronto
It’s interesting that ecobee hosts that article, because thermostats aren’t even mentioned in that article. There is a reference to energy efficiency, but this thread seems to agree that smart thermostats aren’t significantly better than non-smart programmable ones for efficiency.

BTW, that article mentions CFLs providing improved curb appeal. Uh, what?

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