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January 6, Smart Thermostat

January 7th, 2018 at 05:03 pm

January 6:
$100 Smart Thermostat
$44 Groceries
$35 Fuel
$30 MH allowance (movies)
Dinner: Sloppy Joes, Asian Salad

In addition, $10 was spent at Target (cat food) but MH did a return for me ($17.50?).

MM(14) volunteered at the animal shelter. I have been 100% taking him (since summer) but knew I would pass the baton to MH during tax season. I know MH ran to Target (while waiting) and the used book/music store (where he has credit to spend if he bought anything).

That reminds me, MH picked up some board game at the library. He is a bit of a game hoarder so I am ecstatic about that!

I decided to fill up the van (used coupon, saving $8). I *may* squeak by with this gas tank for the rest of the month. (Or at least for this credit card cycle. Probably not for the calendar month). Since the kids had devoured the sourdough bread in mere minutes, I decided to go pick up some more bread and get some gas. In the end I decided to make lunch and picked up a few other things (needed more butter and some bleached flour for baking). I did pick up pistachios because they were on sale. They only seem to sell ground hamburger in 2-3 pound packages these days, so I bought more than I needed.

Comment I made on January 1:
I don't see why we would spend much this month.

Reality:
I forgot that this is a chore month for MH. So I guess there will be lots of spending on that front.
Dental appointments, Doctor appointments, oil changes, etc.

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Did you notice the $100 thermostat purchase?

What a day!!

Upstairs thermostat has been on the fritz for a while. It DIED when I touched it the other night. Because we have two zones for out HVAC system, it's not particularly critical. (Which is probably why we haven't fixed it before). Honestly, the downstairs zone heats most the house and all the heat wafts up to our bedroom. & the kids don't particularly even like it when I turn on the heat upstairs (they prefer the cold). So, it's not critical, but we had a very short window that my dad could maybe help us (before he went out of town for a while). So we decided to attempt to fix it and arranged for him to come up today if we needed help. (It is probably the coldest month of the year and could get uncomfortable if we couldn't turn on the upstairs heat. Not critical, but not ideal either).

In the end it was a very frustrating all-day endeavor, but we figured it out.

MH took the opportunity to price out a Smart Thermostat. It had to be something he could just pick up in person. We settled on a $100 model at Target that is not sold in stores. MH went over to a regional electronic store that price matches. That way he could just pick it up that day at the best price he found.

{While there, he bought some movies on deep discount; the first allowance spending of the year}.

In the end, the new thermostat was just as dead. We were really darn close (more than once) to just calling our HVAC repair guy and not even bothering my dad with this. It seemed we had a much bigger problem.

I said to MH at some point, "It seems to me the problem must be on the other end of the wires." He is the smart engineering one and I am the polar opposite, but I guess I have lived with engineer types my whole life and they are rubbing off on me. He didn't seem to comprehend, but "the other end" meant climbing up into the attic (which is little more than a crawl space) and messing with the heater. I think he was just in denial.

Eventually he got out of denial (the more obvious it became that this is the only other obvious solution and might save us $100 if he just checked). There was some 5th wire needed for this thermostat that we checked and knew we had coming out of the wall, but I guess in the end it had never been connected on the other side. Yeah, it seemed kind of obvious to me that was the problem. Something wasn't connected right. I expected maybe some other wire was loose (why we had problems at all) but in the end, all the rest of the wiring was completely fine; the old thermostat is just dead. So we feel better about just replacing it. We just happened to make life more complicated by transitioning to a thermostat that needs more wires. Up to that point, all we knew was we had two thermostats that wouldn't work at all.

Much to my chagrin, at that time MH connected the 5th wire to the heater, it still wouldn't work. Which is about the time we 99.99% gave up.

MH fiddled with it one more time, and it worked!! PHEW!!

In the end, we weren't interested in the super smart thermostats, which are more expensive anyway. Our house is very well insulated and we live in a mild climate. Is significantly more comfortable and frugal for us just to use the heat/air as needed. For example, the thermostat may say 62 in the fall but may feel really comfortable (because is not that cold outside). But on a winter day the thermostat may say 70 and I might be *freezing* because I am sitting near a window. As such, I don't know that we have any predictable patterns. & turning on the heat/air while we are on the way home (geofencing?) would just be excessive and would be a huge energy waste.

That said, we do have excessive heat in the summers and we do have a pet. I feel the $100 is a bargain as to the luxury of being able to see remotely how hot the house is and being able to turn on and off the A/C to keep the house reasonable and comfortable. Would probably only use if we were out of town any length of time, but you don't know how much energy I've spent in the past worried about pets when we've vacationed during summer months.

It will also be nice to be able to control the thermostat from bed.

Will give it some time to see how much we use and like. If we love it, I am sure we will upgrade the downstairs one (this year?) but want to give it some time. While the remote app stuff is really nice, and I know I could cool some of the house off in a pinch, it would be far more useful to have this feature for the downstairs zone that provides 90% of our heating/cooling.

6 Responses to “January 6, Smart Thermostat”

  1. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    We got a nest and got the $75 rebate. Didn't think I would but DH suddenly decided to do it. The harder part was fixing the wall to make it look nice since it didn't fit perfectly over the old one.

  2. MonkeyMama Says:

    Yeah, we still have to fix the wall. Makes me glad we still don't have to paint our fence. MH's chore list is very long right now, and that was just one more thing. (In our case, the wall patch should be the easy part. Will see).

  3. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Our thermostat may be giving out. I'll be interested to hear how you like yours.

  4. rob62521 Says:

    Sounds like the thermostat purchase was a good one for so many reasons.

  5. snafu Says:

    In the frozen north, Smart thermostats are huge saving as it automatically lowers heat during sleeping hours and during hours no one is home, warms shortly before rising and before you return. Can you check whether there are rebate coupons for the specific model MH chose?

    If you are please with operating results, would DH be willing to undertake the effort to switch thermostats, putting the new one on the lower level, original, existing on the upper level?

  6. MonkeyMama Says:

    This is why I love SA. NO IDEA why neither of us thought of rebates. When I saw the comments I presume MH factored the rebates in his purchase. Apparently no?! Anyway, it's moot because the only rebates our electric company has are for the ones that would be more expensive after rebate. But will keep in mind if we purchase another one. A sale/rebate combo might make one of the others more attractive.

    We will do the two thermostat thing because this is definitely a HUGE improvement. But that is a good idea snafu. If we need app functionality for downstairs and just want the digital display (no more fumbling around in the middle of the night) and Alexa capability upstairs, we may want to consider switching them out and getting something more simple for the upstairs.

    @FT ~ we are using with the Echo. The commands are weird and I have to memorize them. (We initially thought you couldn't do some basic controls, until we looked up the exact wording). I don't think I even tried it last night because we heated up the upstairs while testing it out. But most winter and summer nights we heat/cool the upstairs when we go to bed (just for a bit). So I look forward to using the voice commands to turn it off.

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