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Making a Learning Thermostat

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the hot-house-hack dept.

Power 192

OzPeter writes "As reported in WA Today, Tony Fadell of iPod fame has been using Nest Labs to design and build a thermostat that learns how you live in your house by following how you manually change the temperature. Once you have taught it how to behave, it then can schedule temperature changes that suit your lifestyle, and help you cut down on energy costs."

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Women (4, Funny)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862768)

Don't let women use this thing. It will only learn two settings: the maximum temperature setting and the lowest temperature setting. At least that's how the females in my life use them.

Re:Women (0)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862852)

Its funny because its true.

Re:Women (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37862896)

Damn, women are irritating.

Re:Women (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37863460)

Yes, let's only ever spend time around men from now on!

Re:Women (2)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862918)

This is absolutely true. Apparently heating systems (even totally automated ones with thermostats) have only two settings: on and off. If you want the temp to be 72, you set it to 85 so it heats up "faster", then when it's too hot, you turn it off. The temperature is always wrong so you have to keep adjusting. It makes you feel needed.

Re:Women (2)

ooloogi (313154) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863652)

For some reason people tend to assume a proportional controller, and want to help it out doing its job.

Re:Women (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863750)

Confusingly, the air conditioners in cars that have temperature settings usually are proportional, to my great irritation. My car has one of those dial-a-temp things. I hate it, but I would have had to do without the sat nav and nice stereo to get the "normal" climate controls.

Re:Women (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863914)

Perhaps they equate the gas lines as being exactly the same as the water lines?

If the water in the shower is too cold, you dial the heat way up and then dial it back when it gets to where you like it. They probably assume the same thing for thermostats.

Re:Women (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37863070)

LOL... +1 upvote from me.

That thermostat would probably break within the first 6 months in my house.

Re:Women (1)

ooloogi (313154) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863548)

People do this because they don't trust/understand the controller - especially understanding the amount of time it takes to respond to a setpoint change.

Back when A/C was simple, it would just run flat-out until it reached the setpoint, and then turn off until the hysteresis bound was crossed. But then they added inverters and the A/C might run an lower powers when it thought that might be a good thing: but sometimes gets it wrong. The solution was for the human to override it by setting a stupid setpoint so the stupid smart A/C might actually do what they want.

Adding extra layers of complexity to the thermostat may overcome the A/C controller limitations, but on the other hand might just make it so unpredictable that people want to override it more.

Re:Women (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863732)

I'll be impressed if someone can teach my wife that setting the thermostat lower doesn't do anything on a really hot day if the air conditioner can't keep up. I've explained this repeatedly, but she keeps trying to set the thermostat to 68 on a 100 degree July day. And this is a woman with 3 science degrees!

Re:Women (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863810)

Huh, I didn't think "Home Econ" counts as a science degree.

Re:Women (0)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863906)

Solution:a bathroom scale with a built in thermometer. For every 3 degrees F of favorable temperature difference (that is, 3 degrees colder when it's winter, or 3 degrees warmer when it's summer), it adjusts the output of the scale by -1 pound. For every 3 degrees in the wrong direction, it adjusts the output of the scale by +1 pound. Therefore, it subconsciously has women associate bad things with turning the thermometer in the wrong direction.

Learned Stupidity (2)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862784)

Most thermostats will learn stupid conflicted behavior. Cold person irrationally turns thermostat up to 80. Angry frugal person retaliates by turning down to 50. Repeat 20x/day. Leave it alone at random during nice weather.

I like thermostats that are more even-tempered. My programmable one has a nice feature that if overridden will resume at the next programmed temperature interval, so someone cranking the heat or AC will only be able to influence the next few hours at most.

Re:Learned Stupidity (2)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862826)

Hmm, I have an idea. A truly smart thermostat would lie. It would indicate it's set at some crazy temperature, but in reality it would apply a moderate setting. Or better yet, it would lie to everyone but me.

Re:Learned Stupidity (2)

kd5zex (1030436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862874)

I just filed for a patent on this, thanks!

Re:Learned Stupidity (5, Informative)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862892)

It is a well documented fact that in some office environments, fake thermostats that the workers can access improves perceived comfort and reduces calls to maintenance.

Re:Learned Stupidity (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863082)

Combine the two approaches with facial-recognition thermostats that tell the lies that each user wants to hear.

Re:Learned Stupidity (1)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863094)

Hmm, I have an idea. A truly smart thermostat would lie. It would indicate it's set at some crazy temperature, but in reality it would apply a moderate setting. Or better yet, it would lie to everyone but me.

You work for the CIA, don't you?

Re:Learned Stupidity (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863480)

Interesting thing: I have no clue what brand it is but my brother's thermostat does something like this. No matter how big of a change you set it to, it will not accept a jump larger than, I don't know, 4 degrees? In a single change. It's 74 and you want colder? Tell it 50 and it will, after a few minutes, bounce to 70. Once it's 70 you can then go back at it and try to lower it further.

I am not sure if in his the threshold is user configured or not.

Re:Learned Stupidity (1)

goofy183 (451746) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863698)

I have one of the higher end honeywell models (like $200 for the control panel + remote logic box) that has all sorts of fun options. Maximum adjustment increment, overall max/min settings, etc.

The biggest features I got it for are the external temp sensor which the thermostat uses to adjust the humidifier run time to avoid condensation in the winter and the smart recovery. The thermostat uses a combination of outside + inside temps and some recent historical data (how fast did the house cool down or heat up) to get to a specified temp at the specified time. So if I set it for 55 at night and want it to be 67 at 7am the thing just figures out what time it needs to kick on the heat in the morning so that at 7am the house is at 67. Wonderful feature if you live in the Midwest and you'd have to reprogram a simpler thermostat every month to get the same behavior.

Re:Learned Stupidity (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863766)

Does that really work well? I've got a programmable thermostat (though not that nice of one) and setting it to pull the house temp up for waking up results in hot air in all the rooms while the walls warm up. (I have to leave doors closed to keep the cats out of the bedrooms, but there's at least a 1" gap under every door so we can have good air exchange.)

Re:Learned Stupidity (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863590)

How about a talking thermostat with a personality. Something in the vain of Red Dwarf's talking toaster. :)

no so far out (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863640)

I have a fancy programmable thermostat, and it actually does allow you to specify in the setup menu how much you want it to "lie", and in which direction.

Re:Learned Stupidity (3, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862860)

Cold person irrationally turns thermostat up to 80. Angry frugal person retaliates by turning down to 50. Repeat 20x/day.

Ah, but the thermostat also has the information of what the temperature actually is when they turn the dial.
Cold person turns it up at temp X, frugal person turns it down at temp Y.
X is too cold, Y is too warm. Good compromise temperature is between X and Y.
80 & 50 are irrelevant.

The whole point of this rethink is to look at heuristics like that. Not just to learn, but to be intelligent about it.

Re:Learned Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37863160)

You have a problem there if X > Y.

Re:Learned Stupidity (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863526)

You may have to think that one through a little more to realise why that can't happen.

Re:Learned Stupidity (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863166)

Does this concept thermostat understand multiple rooms, and that some rooms may be in the sun and others might not? can it control room dampers? how about handle a complex ground source heatpump, gas furnace, water heater, water heater preheat, etc setup? any sort of communication protocol?

Sorry forgot we were in the residential market and not the commercial. Other than missing some really helpful new install features, i agree that looking at these heuristics would be helpful, but it would be helpful to have some advanced features as well.

Re:Learned Stupidity (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863202)

hate to reply to my self, but

Can this handle an ERV in the system as well and check indoor and out door humidity as well as CO2 levels?

Re:Learned Stupidity (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863470)

check indoor and out door humidity

I've posted this before, but what I really want out on my programmable thermostat is a dehumidify cycle that runs for 15 minutes or so then goes back to the default setting.

Re:Learned Stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37863966)

I'm a software engineer at a large HVAC company. Let's say that when people ask me where I work, they think I say that work on Linux. We have a networked thermostat for the residential market that basically networks all aspects of the home HVAC system, though what is exposed to the user is very simplified. Yep, we have our own communication protocol running over CAN bus, and we have pretty good heuristics for creating a comfortable environment and saving power.

Re:Learned Stupidity (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863628)

So take away the temperature number on the control, just have warmer and colder buttons.

At last! (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862792)

At last a article that isn't about Apple or Steve Jobs!

Re:At last! (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862910)

I have to say this looks like a great use of technology. Keeps people comfortable, saves money, reduces fuel use, good for the environment. OK, it's expensive up front, but it'll pay for itself before long.

Re:At last! (1)

TimHunter (174406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862964)

I see what you did there.

Re:At last! (1)

qamerr (1618331) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862972)

When I read the article the other day in the New York Times, it mentioned the founder was "Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive who led iPod and iPhone."
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/25/technology/at-nest-labs-ex-apple-leaders-remake-the-thermostat.html [nytimes.com]

Re:At last! (1)

qamerr (1618331) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862992)

And if I had finished reading the summary, I would have caught your joke... Oops..

Why? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37862842)

There's noting I would learn and it's not sellable.

To enter the market is impossible for me. Competition means all products were created by experts doing their best work. Plastics are prohibative. It's hopeless. You want me to go up against Trane?

God says...
C:\TEXT\BIBLE.TXT

  of the plain.

3:23 After him repaired Benjamin and Hashub over against their house.

After him repaired Azariah the son of Maaseiah the son of Ananiah by
his house.

3:24 After him repaired Binnui the son of Henadad another piece, from
the house of Azariah unto the turning of the wall, even unto the
corner.

3:25 Palal the son of Uzai, over against the turning of the wall, and
the tower which lieth out from the king's high house, that was by the
court of the prison. After him Pedaiah the son

Check your system first (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862854)

I live in the South and have a 19 SEER variable speed AC/Heat Pump and this can't control it yet.

Re:Check your system first (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863190)

you should toss in some room dampers, and use that heat pump to pre heat your water for your hot water heater and let me know when/if this works for that sort of a set up.

Re:Check your system first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37863786)

you should toss in some room dampers

How will that help?!

Soon to be sold to third parties: (1)

planimal (2454610) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862856)

Accurately targeted advertisements based on energy usage.

Re:Soon to be sold to third parties: (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862930)

Oh no! Save us from the evil of accurately targeted advertisements! What chance would we have if someone showed us adverts for products that might actually interest us!

Re:Soon to be sold to third parties: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37863106)

You guys still get advertisements on the internet? Come on, it isn't the 1990s anymore.

The only people that still get adverts either want them or don't know how to turn the adverts off.

Re:Soon to be sold to third parties: (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863152)

Same goes for Anonymous Coward posts. Normally I have them turned off, but today I'm feeling feisty and so I want 'em.

Assuming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37862858)

This assumes only one person is adjusting the thermostat which, in most families, is not the case.

Re:Assuming (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863180)

No it doesn't. In fact right at the start of the animation you see what are obviously different people's hands adjusting it.
Existing programmable thermostats assume one person in control. Or at least solely cater for the last person to alter it. Nest appears to be more democratic.
Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends on your household!

Simple (1)

ritzer (934174) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862880)

I leave mine set at 20C / 68F. When the girls turn it up, I set it to 19C. Pretty soon it stays at 20 all the time.

Re:Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37863228)

We leave it set to 20C. When dad turns it down, we set it to 21C. Pretty soon it stays at 20 all the time.

-- The Girls.

Re:Simple (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863420)

I disconnected the thermostat years ago.

-- mom

Re:Simple (2)

ooloogi (313154) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863674)

We ended up just opening up the windows to let the house warm up to a nice temperature. It's such a waste that the air conditioner keeps trying to cool the whole city to 20C, but dad pays the bills so that's his problem.

-- The Girls.

Re:Simple (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863868)

Er, you heat to 20 C. You don't cool to it, unless you really like insane power bills. I generally cool my house to 24 C, although that's mostly for dehumidification.

Overly complicated (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862888)

Sounds overly complicated. With my current thermostat, I set it to make the temperature to 70 degrees at 6:55am (just before my alarm goes off). It learns how fast the house heats up, so the house really is at the right temperature when I want it to be and it does a pretty good job of that, even on unusually cold days.

If I have to manually adjust the temperature to help it learn, then it's going to lag my preferred time by 5 or 10 minutes (the time it takes me to get out of bed and go down to the thermostat and reset it). Or does it learn how long it takes me to get dressed and walk from the bedroom to the thermostat? And if it uses motion sensors to decide whether or not I'm home, it's either going to think I'm never home since I don't go past the thermostat much in my day-to-day activities, or it's going to think I'm always home when it senses the dog going to her food dish.

I'd much rather have a thermostat with an easy to use UI than something that tries to be smart. Maybe if I had a true smart-home with sensors in every room, it could automatically figure out what time I wake up and when I leave the house, but I don't see how a thermostat on a wall can do a good job.

Re:Overly complicated (2)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862978)

I don't know if you saw the nest - but it's just a knob. You turn it until it's at the temperature you want. That's it. No fan control, no heat/cool setting. It just makes it the temperature you want. Then, as you turn it up and down, it learns *when* you want it to be a certain temperature. It also checks via wifi what the temperature outside is, so it learns the delta between preferred indoor and outdoor temperatures (we keep our thermostat at 68, but if it's 65 and sunny outside we turn the furnace off)

It seems pretty nifty, if for no other reason you can set it via the web if you aren't coming home as scheduled.

Re:Overly complicated (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863126)

I don't know if you saw the nest - but it's just a knob. You turn it until it's at the temperature you want. That's it. No fan control, no heat/cool setting. It just makes it the temperature you want. Then, as you turn it up and down, it learns *when* you want it to be a certain temperature. It also checks via wifi what the temperature outside is, so it learns the delta between preferred indoor and outdoor temperatures (we keep our thermostat at 68, but if it's 65 and sunny outside we turn the furnace off)

It seems pretty nifty, if for no other reason you can set it via the web if you aren't coming home as scheduled.

That's my point - it thinks it knows when I want the temperature to be set - but instead, it has to guess based on incomplete information. Just because I don't put on my clothes and come down to the thermostat until 7:20 doesn't mean that I don't want my bedroom to be warm when I jump out of bed at 7am. Likewise, just because I don't walk past the thermostat from 9am to 5pm doesn't mean that I'm not upstairs working in my office.

My thermostat doesn't need to know what the weather is like outside because it, like I, don't care what the outside temperature is when I step out of bed. If I want it to be 70 degrees at 7am, when I step out of bed, I don't care if it's 38, 68, or 98 degrees outside. If the sun is streaming into my windows and making my house warm, my thermostat knows that.

Re:Overly complicated (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863738)

Looking at the website, I see that as well at it's learning, you can also program fixed points in the schedule. So your 7am argument is null and void.

Re:Overly complicated (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863888)

So now it's no longer "just a knob."

Re:Overly complicated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37863074)

or it's going to think I'm always home when it senses the dog going to her food dish.

Good lord, how big is your dog?!?

Re:Overly complicated (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863196)

or it's going to think I'm always home when it senses the dog going to her food dish.

Good lord, how big is your dog?!?

She's around 95 lbs / 45 kg.

Re:Overly complicated (3, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863086)

Or does it learn how long it takes me to get dressed and walk from the bedroom to the thermostat?

If it's occurred to you in the few minutes between learning about the device and posting here, why would you imagine that it hasn't occurred to them? There's no reason why it can't work out which is the morning increase, and assume that in future you want that temperature 10 minutes earlier in the day, or 5, or 20, depending on what their research in the field has found to be satisfactory for most people.

And if it uses motion sensors to decide whether or not I'm home, it's either going to think I'm never home since I don't go past the thermostat much in my day-to-day activities, or it's going to think I'm always home when it senses the dog going to her food dish.

They say the best place for thermostat is in a hallway. People should be passing that from time to time. But they do say to turn it down yourself hen leaving and up when you return, at least for the first week, to give it a good start on working out your patterns.

And placed at the normal thermostat height, the detector isn't set off by dogs. That's a FAQ.

I'd much rather have a thermostat with an easy to use UI than something that tries to be smart.

I've never seen an easier UI than this one. There's only one control and that's a temperature dial. Personally I'd far prefer one that's smart.

I don't see how a thermostat on a wall can do a good job.

Ah well, if you can't see it, then obviously it doesn't work.

"No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."

Re:Overly complicated (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863314)

Or does it learn how long it takes me to get dressed and walk from the bedroom to the thermostat?

If it's occurred to you in the few minutes between learning about the device and posting here, why would you imagine that it hasn't occurred to them? There's no reason why it can't work out which is the morning increase, and assume that in future you want that temperature 10 minutes earlier in the day, or 5, or 20, depending on what their research in the field has found to be satisfactory for most people.

That's my point - they don't know so they have to guess. So it's somewhere between 5 or 30 minutes so it's either going to be too short or too long for many people.

And if it uses motion sensors to decide whether or not I'm home, it's either going to think I'm never home since I don't go past the thermostat much in my day-to-day activities, or it's going to think I'm always home when it senses the dog going to her food dish.

They say the best place for thermostat is in a hallway. People should be passing that from time to time. But they do say to turn it down yourself hen leaving and up when you return, at least for the first week, to give it a good start on working out your patterns.

My thermostat *is* in a hallway, but it's a little used hallway that leads to the front door, I'm much more likely to bypass the hallway and go to the kitchen when I'm working at home.

And placed at the normal thermostat height, the detector isn't set off by dogs. That's a FAQ.

A FAQ is not quite the same as a fact. My alarm installer told me the same thing when he installed motion sensors, and he had to come take them out after my dog proved him wrong. this thermostat may fare better since it's not trying to detect someone trying to sneak by.

I'd much rather have a thermostat with an easy to use UI than something that tries to be smart.

I've never seen an easier UI than this one. There's only one control and that's a temperature dial. Personally I'd far prefer one that's smart.

It's simple as long as you trust the thermostat to know your patterns better than you do.

I don't see how a thermostat on a wall can do a good job.

Ah well, if you can't see it, then obviously it doesn't work.

Or maybe different people live in different homes, so one product doesn't work everywhere?

"No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."

Huh?

Re:Overly complicated (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863458)

A FAQ is not quite the same as a fact. My alarm installer told me the same thing when he installed motion sensors

The information from the person who designed the device is rather more trustworthy than from some guy in a boiler suit. If it's a FAQ answer, that is indeed the way it works.

It's simple as long as you trust the thermostat to know your patterns better than you do.

Thats not the question. The question is whether after learning it reflects your behaviour better than the settings you programmed into your old thermostat - which may be out of date. And whether you'd prefer to be relieved of the chore of setting the thermostat program every time your shedule changes.

Or maybe different people live in different homes, so one product doesn't work everywhere?

An AC said it best:
HI, I'm Clippy, I couldn't help but notice you where typing a rant that makes it obvious that you are not the target demographic for this product. Would you like me to erase what you wrote so that you can save us all from seeing that you don't get it? [n/Y]:

"No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."
Huh?

Required knowledge for a slashdotter! Google is your friend. Aw never mind, here you go:
http://slashdot.org/story/01/10/23/1816257/apple-releases-ipod [slashdot.org]
That's the founder of this site, similarly not being able to get his head round the significance of a new product.

Re:Overly complicated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37863972)

A FAQ is not quite the same as a fact. My alarm installer told me the same thing when he installed motion sensors

So who sells motion detectors that can be avoided by pretending to be a dog?

And how many people don't pay or share? (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862894)

There are a fair number of people who don't pay for their utilities when they rent apartments. This is especially true in buildings that have minimal individual temp control. I don't need to pay for my utilities. I'm pretty sure that in general I'm less careful about say not leaving windows open than I would be if I had to pay for using heat dumping as a way of cooling my apartment when the heat is too high. I feel guilty about that doing that but hey. In a similar vein, I suspect that lots of people who do control the temperatures would keep them down if the thermostat instead of displaying just the temperature displayed the actual cost accumulating. That's probably a lot technically simpler than trainable AI.

Re:And how many people don't pay or share? (1)

LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863008)

There are a fair number of people who don't pay for their utilities when they rent apartments. This is especially true in buildings that have minimal individual temp control. I don't need to pay for my utilities. I'm pretty sure that in general I'm less careful about say not leaving windows open than I would be if I had to pay for using heat dumping as a way of cooling my apartment when the heat is too high. I feel guilty about that doing that but hey. In a similar vein, I suspect that lots of people who do control the temperatures would keep them down if the thermostat instead of displaying just the temperature displayed the actual cost accumulating. That's probably a lot technically simpler than trainable AI.

I live in an apt with baseboard hot water that I don't pay for. There's one manual thermostat in my unit and it takes a while for the heat to be even throughout, so I found it best just leaving it set to 20C unless I'm going to be away for weeks. If I were paying for the heat I would probably install a programmable thermostat to try and save, but I'm not as wasteful as some of the other tenants in my building that set it to 25 and leave the windows open.

If I had a programmable thermostat it would be 15 at night and during the day, 20C first thing in the morning and in the evening. Not much learning to go on. It's not like I'm a woman that goes "Brrr" when the temp is 21 and set it to 30.

Re:And how many people don't pay or share? (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863238)

hehe, every spring and fall I end up with the hot water baseboards on, and the windows wide open. Changing the setting on the thing (from 1 to 5 dots no real temps) will not shut it off completely, and when it is 74 and sunny out, the last thing I need on is the heat. It's fun here in the spring and fall, 30's at night 70's-80's during the day and a weekly high temp swing of 50F 70 for the high on monday, 20 on Friday.

Re:And how many people don't pay or share? (1)

LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863612)

Luckily I have an actual thermostat. I never understood those 1 to 5 dot things.

Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37862940)

Do it with Linux.

Retarded (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37862986)

Seriously, I know what temperature I want the house, and the 'smart' thermostat can only guess. Given that we start and leave work at various different and largely random times during the week it has no chance in hell of getting its guesses right except by luck.

Why does everyone think we want to deal with hardware that does seemingly random things based on its conception of what I want it to do, rather than doing what I want it to do? This is even more of an abomination than Google's 'smart' searches which routinely give me everything it can find other than the words I actually asked it to search for.

Re:Retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37863072)

HI, I'm Clippy, I couldn't help but notice you where typing a rant that makes it obvious that you are not the target demographic for this product. Would you like me to erase what you wrote so that you can save us all from seeing that you don't get it? [n/Y]:

Re:Retarded (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863286)

According to the developers of Nest, 90% of programmable thermostats aren't programmed properly. Maybe you're in the 10% and wouldn't benefit. That doesn't mean it's not a good product for many of the 90%.

Just one thing:
"Given that we start and leave work at various different and largely random times during the week it has no chance in hell of getting its guesses right except by luck."

On feature of Nest might be an improvement for you then. You can set the temperature remotely from computer or smartphone. When you're about to head home on one of your unpredictable days, you can make sure the temperature is set for your comfort. And that may also mean you can make it a more uncomfortable (but cheaper) temperature whilst you're out, knowing that you won't come home to it.

Re:Retarded (1)

Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863756)

According to the developers of Nest, 90% of programmable thermostats aren't programmed properly. Maybe you're in the 10% and wouldn't benefit. That doesn't mean it's not a good product for many of the 90%.

So according to the people with a solution, there's a problem that needs fixing! I sincerely doubt their numbers. Really it's not that hard, and the last one I bought had a energy star setting system built in. I tweeked it a bit, but I could have installed it, and just left it. Further, anybody whose capable of installing one of these things can program it. Same goes for the wonderthingie, well except I can get a programmable thermostat for $50, while this is 5x the price. Maybe people who can't program a thermostat, or install one can't do math either....

Re:Retarded (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863968)

So according to the people with a solution, there's a problem that needs fixing! I sincerely doubt their numbers. Really it's not that hard

Everyone overestimates the number of people that are the same as them in some way.

Maybe Nest are exaggerating. They said "according to one study", but they could be lying. But you have NOTHING to go on other than your estimation of the number of people that are like you.

Same goes for the wonderthingie, well except I can get a programmable thermostat for $50, while this is 5x the price. Maybe people who can't program a thermostat, or install one can't do math either....

Or maybe they just have deeper pockets than you. Or maybe they realise that they haven't re-programmed the thermostat in the last year at least, and actually a thermostat that learns from the overrides is a good idea. That it'll probably pay for itself in a couple of years.

Re:Retarded (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863892)

Lots of people have pets at home that aren't going to be comfortable with the temperature swings that energy efficiency would dictate.

Re:Retarded (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37864002)

So don't turn it down so low when you go out.

It also alerts the IRS to your electricity usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37863000)

It not only learns your behavior, but reports that behavior to the government [petermcwilliams.org] if it suspects you might be running a business.

Re:It also alerts the IRS to your electricity usag (1)

Roark Meets Dent (650119) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863060)

Actually the correct link is here [petermcwilliams.info] , and should read: It not only learns your behavior, but reports that behavior to the government [petermcwilliams.info] if it suspects you might be running a business.

Re:It also alerts the IRS to your electricity usag (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863332)

What a loon!

Presets please (1)

im3w1l (2009474) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863084)

I just want a thermostat that can simulate tropical dawns. Combining this with automatically dimmed lights, mmmmm

What they need to make... (1)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863218)

What they need to make is a thermostat that will smack the hand of anyone who thinks that turning the thermostat up to 95 will heat the house up faster than just setting it to the desired temperature.

Re:What they need to make... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863388)

What they need to make is a thermostat that will smack the hand of anyone who thinks that turning the thermostat up to 95 will heat the house up faster than just setting it to the desired temperature.

Depends on the heating system and the thermostat. Two-stage gas furnaces and heat pumps may indeed warm up faster when there's a large delta between current temperature and desired temperature.

doesn't need a particularly large delta (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863678)

My second stage kicks in if the thermostat is set 2 degrees more than the current temperature (or if the furnace runs for a certain amount of time and the temperature hasn't reached the set-point).

O Rly? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863260)

This is the single most stupid idea ever. Humans are fickle about "comfort" and if you have more than 1 person there they will never be equal. the BEST way to save energy is to buy a setback thermostat that also has an outside temperature sensor so it can make smart decisions based on outside conditions and energy loss factor of the home. a better one will also have a windspeed measurement as a home will lose heat faster when the winter winds are blowing.

Want to know what saved me a LOT of cash? I removed the real thermostat and replaced it with temp sensors in each room and put a dummy one up that the wife can play with.

The house can now adjust heat properly based on energy saving curves AND my wife has something she can change to make her feel better.

Re:O Rly? (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863780)

This is the single most stupid idea ever.

"No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame."

When slashdotters don't get a new product, I predict a big success.

Re:O Rly? (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863870)

"Want to know what saved me a LOT of cash? I removed the real thermostat and replaced it with temp sensors in each room and put a dummy one up that the wife can play with."

That's EXACTLY what I need!

Yeah (1)

Jethro (14165) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863304)

I have a programmable thermostat, but the thing is ancient and looks like a VCR from the '70s.

I just went out and got e replacement for it, in part because this one's not SUPER flexible, and in part to help myself not be tempted to get a $250 thermostat, no matter how pretty it is.

Simple, 55* (2)

DigiTechGuy (1747636) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863334)

55* is enough to keep the pipes from freezing. I don't have the money to justify a cozy 68*-72*. Want it warmer? That's why they make clothes and blankets.

Can it prevent PEBTAF errors? (1)

redcaboodle (622288) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863356)

Problem Exists Between Thermostat and Floor?

Like my darling bf who turn the heating on full and then keeps the door to the balcony open because "He needs fresh air" but "He does not want to sleep in the cold"?

Who got to use our old fridge with the broken door to keep his beer in, turned down to minimum because the door was nowhere near tight. Instead of keeping the stock there and moving what he needs to our new low-energy fridge he turned it on full tilt and I did not notice because I do not use the beer fridge.

Right now he has poured the old marmalade from the fridge through the kitchen drain and is whining because it's clogged again..."I did not do anything". I hope the mix of drain cleaner, hot water and vinegar he poured in afterwards doesn't eat through the drain. I'm not allowed to touch the mess and you should hear him if I drop so much as a small bread crumb in the drain.

In short - it's not always the women who refuse to learn how things work.

Re:Can it prevent PEBTAF errors? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37864044)

In short - it's not always the women who refuse to learn how things work.

I beg to differ if you're still with the guy.

Smart heat pump thermostat (1)

JimWise (1804930) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863368)

I have a heat pump, and would like a reasonably priced smart heat pump thermostat. I can't use a standard programmable thermostat since if I tell it to go down to go down to 60 at night, then 68 shortly before I get up it will flip into Auxiliary Mode (actually more likely bump all the way up to Emergency Mode) and use the MUCH less efficient electrical backup systems. Heat pumps alone can be pretty efficient but often MUCH more gradual, needing a fair bit of lead time.

A smart heat pump thermostat would probably need external sensors for the outdoor temperature, and maybe even add things like wind speed, ambient heat from direct sunlight vs overcast, etc to determine when to start up the heat pump and stay only in the most efficient heat pump mode yet still get to the desired temperature at the desired time. It would learn over time how differing outdoor conditions altered its efficiency and adjust accordingly.

I grew up with a gas furnace and we had a fairly inexpensive thermostat that could be programmed for 6 changes a day, with the ability to customize all 7 days individually if desired, or have one setting for M-F and another for Sat and one for Sun. You could manually make an adjustment and have it kick back into the programmed settings at the next programmed interval. I don't see much need for going beyond that for non-heat pump systems.

Re:Smart heat pump thermostat (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863456)

I've been wondering why there are not super cheap ones out yet. Its not far above a LCD WATCH with a special cap that probably costs as much as the watch which cycles at different rates depending upon the temp. (I took my $17 unit apart and found the cap acting as a sensor.) Add a transistor switch and program the watch... I can get optical mice cheaper than these thermostats. programming them would only take a little bit of labor upfront-- these watches do a ton of stuff and have more buttons...for nothing. Actually... one probably could hack a watch with the right skills... The beeper could trigger the transistor to switch; an unused button could be used for the temp CAP-- maybe you could have 2 of those... only need 2 buttons... If one could just program the chip in the watch to do what you want...

This would me electronic ones long lasting and really cheap... could put one in each room or something. Good project for DIY people... make a super cheap electric thermostat.

perfect project for an arduino (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863694)

If you have any skill at all you should be able to put something together for less than $250 that'll do exactly what you need.

Maybe they should ask Whirlpool (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863578)

Maybe they should ask Whirpool. We purchased an electric water heater by them about 5 years ago that learns your water usage pattern and then runs the heater accordingly.

Re:Maybe they should ask Whirlpool (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863716)

I have a "smart" thermostat already. It cost me $60 at Lowe's. I set the temperatures I want for my weekly schedule (every day is programmable, with 4 different settings per day). Over the course of a week or two, it figures how long it typically takes to reach the desired temperature. So if I want it to go from 78 degrees during the day down to 74 degrees when I get home at 4, it will turn the AC at just the right time so that it reaches 74 degrees at 4pm. It's very nice.

$249.00? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37863606)

How can a really simple computer, that costs next to nothing to produce, end up selling for $250..00?

The sad part is, people will pay that for an admittedly cool device.

Magnificent!! (1)

InspectorGadget1964 (2439148) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863616)

Lazy people will not ever again need to turn the temperature control when going out or coming home. One more step in increasing laziness and reducing intellect in our society. Add to that rubbish like McDonalds and frozen dinners so you don’t need to think what to eat and progress into the next millennia has given a huge step forward! This is equivalent to having an automatic gear box in your car. Those were designed initially to give freedom to drive to the disabled and today every intellectually challenged person that has problems synchronising the acts of pressing the clutch pedal and moving the gear stick wants one. I guess one day soon we will no longer appreciate the real beauty of life. The sound of a violin will disappear because nobody will bother to slide the left hand while pushing and pulling the bow with the right one! That is why people go to restaurants, because they are to lazy to cook and they go to brothels because they are too lazy to be creative and court a woman. Civilization is really coming to an end one silly invention at a time!

Niche Marketing (1)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863724)

So as I understand it, this is aimed at 1) people too dumb to program a programmable thermostat, and 2) people smart enough to give a shit.

That market, traditionally, is government activists.

Therefore, I should wait until it is free.

Wood stove (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37863794)

So, will Nest chop and haul wood for me too? I'd be all down with that.

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