Are Smart Thermostats allowed in Apartments?
Which one is the best for an apartment?
Most likely you are allowed to change the thermostat in your apartment. Read through your lease agreement to see if it is spelled out. Otherwise, you can ask your landlord to verify. I checked with mine and as long as I put the old one back when I moved away I was allowed to change it. Which one is best? The smart thermostat we recommend for most people is the Nest Learning Thermostat. Should you get one? Most definitely, apart from the convenience factor, you can save a lot of money using a smart thermostat. Nest Labs the company behind the thermostat did a study and released a white paper with their findings. They found that you can save between 10%-12% on heating costs in the winter and about 15% on cooling costs in the summer.
On top of the energy cost savings, some utilities have programs with Nest that you can sign up for and get rebates towards the purchase of the thermostat. My utility here Southern California Edison offered to give me half of the purchase cost in rebates for signing up for their Rush Hour rewards program. The program allows the electrical company to adjust my thermostat on days of peak demand so that they can reduce my energy usage.
Smart technology should exist to make our lives easier not more difficult. It is with that philosophy in mind using a smart thermostat should be just as intuitive if not more than a traditional thermostat. The Nest Learning Thermostat checks that box with flying colors. The entire thermostat is a wheel that you can turn left or right to adjust the temperature. It has 4 modes, Off, Heat + Cool, Cool and Heat. It accomplishes this in an attractive modern design that will look good on your wall. Most of the other Smart Thermostats on the market are either ugly, confusing to use or both.
What makes it Smart?
The Nest Learning thermostat’s main feature is that it is designed to learn how you use it and create a schedule on its own based on how you use it. It has several smart features all categorized as Nest Sense. They are Airwave, Sunblock, Cool to Dry, Early On, True Radiant, Heat Pump. This thermostat will also give you alerts, such as safety alerts if your house is getting too cold or too hot. Furnace Alerts if your furnace is acting up and not functioning properly and Filter reminders.
Airwave – When you AC compressor turns off, the Nest will keep your fan running to take advantage of the cold coils on the compressor and squeeze some more cold air out of the compressor even after it has turned off.
Sunblock – The Nest will detect when it is sitting in direct sunlight and adjust accordingly so that your home is set to the correct temperature.
Cool to Dry – If there is too much humidity in your home the AC will kick in to reduce the humidity level.
Early On – This is one of my favorite features, if you want your home to be a certain temperature at a specific time in the morning when you wake up, the Nest will learn how long it takes your home to heat up and it will start pre-heating as early as necessary to hit the specified temperature at the specified time. For example, you want it to be 73 degrees at 6 am then it will start pre-heating earlier in the morning to make sure its 73 at 6 am.
True Radiant – This is for Radiant heating systems it will keep the heat at a steady even temperature without overshooting.
Heat Pump – If your apartment uses a Heat Pump it will try and use the Heat Pump as much as possible since it is more efficient, only using the more expensive Aux heat when necessary.
Which one should I get?
Nest makes 2 versions of the Nest Learning Thermostat, the Nest Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat E. The Nest Thermostat is their original thermostat, it is a Metal Ring with a glass screen, and it comes in 4 Colors, Stainless Steel, Black, White, and Copper. It costs $249. The Nest Thermostat E is their new budget version of the thermostat. This is an all plastic design with a more simplified screen and it costs $169. The cheaper Nest Thermostat E includes all of the features included with the Nest Thermostat with the exception of one. The Nest Thermostat has what they call the Farsight feature. Farsight will light up the Nest screen when you are across the room and it senses motion. There are 4 different Farsight screens you can display. You can have it show the outside temperature, the inside temperature, a clock or the weather. Then when you get close to the thermostat it will switch to the normal control screen. Apart from that all of the Nest Sense features are included in both thermostats. When it comes to compatibility the Thermostat E is compatible with fewer heating and cooling systems than the Nest Thermostat so before you buy check this website to see if your system is compatible. Nest Compatibility Checker.
How does the Nest Thermostat save me money?
There are 3 features of the thermostat that will help you save money on your utility bills. Those are Eco Mode, Auto-Learning, and Airwave.
Eco Mode – When you leave the home based on the location of your phone or if the thermostat senses no one is home it will automatically switch into eco mode. Eco Mode is a preset range of temperatures, for example, if you can set the highest temperature allowed in your home to 85 and the lowest to 50. This will help you save energy bills if you leave home for vacation and forget to adjust your thermostat.
Auto Learning – As you use the thermostat it will learn how you like to keep your home and it will automatically adjust as you use it. Also setting manual schedules on the app is as simple as a few clicks. The ease with which you can set and adjust schedules allows you to maximize cost savings. The problem with traditional thermostats is that programming them is so darn confusing and time consuming that most people don’t bother to set it.
Airwave – This is one of the Nest Sense features listed above, this allows the AC to be as efficient as possible. AC is one of the most power consuming appliance that you will run in your home, and the airwave allows the thermostat to get as much cold air from the AC unit as possible. It achieves this by continuing to run the fan over the AC coils even after the compressor has turned off. The idea being that the compressor coils remain cold for a period of time and continuing to run the fan will allow you to continue cooling your home even after the expensive compressor is shut off.
How Can I control the Thermostat?
Nest has a phone app as well as a website. Both can be used to control the thermostat. You can change temperature, change mode, set schedules and adjust settings all from either the app or the website. After you install the thermostat it will connect to your home Wi-Fi network. Then you will be able to access the thermostat from your phone wherever you are. Even if you are at work or halfway across the globe you will be able to adjust your home’s thermostat.
Does the Nest integrate with other Smart Home technology?
Yes, Nest has a partner program called Works With Nest, they have this website that lists all of the other smart home technology that connects to the Nest. You can also use IFTTT to integrate Nest in a workflow to trigger things to happen. For example, when Nest adjusts to auto-away mode it can tell your smart lights to turn on, or if it senses motion you can have it send you a text notification. Nest also integrates with smart speakers so if you own an Amazon Echo device or Google Home you will be able to adjust the temperature of your home by just speaking to Alexa or Google the desired temperature.
How hard is the Nest to install?
The Nest thermostat was designed to be as easy to install as possible. All it takes is 2 screws on the back plate, then you attached the wires to the appropriate spots and slide on the thermostat. Nest includes this simple backplate with slots that automatically grab the wires as you slide them in. Each slot has the first letter of the color of the corresponding wire and they include an online guide to help you install it. They even throw in a screwdriver. On their online guide, you input which wires you have and what color they are then they will tell you which wire to put in which spot.
Which one should I get?
In the end, it comes down to preference, in my opinion, the Nest Thermostat at $249 has a little better look, includes the Farsight feature and is compatible with more advanced heating and cooling systems. Yet the Nest Thermostat E also has a great modern understated design that might look better in some apartments. It’s only $169 and includes all of the same features as its more expensive sibling and is still compatible with most heating and cooling systems. Choose the one that fits best with your budget and lifestyle you can’t go wrong either way.