High-tech thermostat earns mixed reviews

The use of manual thermostats may provide just as much savings for homeowners as high-tech options, a new report suggests.

Some readers often like to point to my "old-school" approach to home-heating technology, citing an article I wrote about the much-ballyhooed release of the Nest thermostat a few weeks back. While I'm told this is a compliment in most cases, a few readers seem to think that my "old-school" approach is more "old-fashioned."

However, (while I'm not trying to claim the last laugh here) a recent article by Green Tech Enterprises indicated that the first buyers of this high-tech thermostat (those who were no doubt wooed by its progressive aesthetics) have been less than satisfied by its performance.

(Now, if you remember this past article, you'll recall how the Nest is supposed to set itself apart from its peers by being smartphone-controlled and adaptive to a user's preferences. You'll also remember the learning tool programmers lauded for its ability to remember – and adjust to – the temperatures individuals prefer at certain times of the day.)

"Commenters are having trouble with the 'learning' feature, which they attest is confused by varying habitation schedules and 'can't even adapt to simple schedules,'" Eric Wesoff wrote in his January 18 post, citing from a WiredPrairie review of the product.

Wesoff went on to suggest that in addition to the device's near $250 price tag, those who purchased the device shelled out almost $120 for installation. The author noted that by comparison, programmable and manual thermostats often retail for as low as $40.

Now, I haven't tried this product, but I have my doubts that any thermostat can save enough on its initial run to cover a near $400 asking price. That's why I suggest that consumer pursue alternative options by purchasing them on discounted retail sites, at least until the Nest becomes more affordable and or shows real energy-saving benefits for its users.

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