Static Electricity: Not Good For Your Old Thermostat…

Two nights ago, I went to turn up the thermostat because I was freezing. I forgot to put on my slippers, so I was walking on our carpet with wool socks… and I even expected to lose a finger when I touched the thermostat… because I had done it so many times before. But this time it was different.

Not only was my finger numb for the next 15 minutes, but it soon became warm in the house. We usually keep the thermostat under 70 degrees during the day, but in the evening, when I get a chill, I turn it up to 70. When I went to bed, I was about to turn the thermostat back down to 66 degrees for the night, when I noticed the temperature inside was 73, even though the thermostat was set at 70. This didn’t look right.

Upon further evaluation, it was revealed that the furnace had not shut down in the hour since I had shocked myself… it was stuck in a permanent “on” cycle. Well, that would not do, I need it cool at night to sleep, so I shut the furnace off completely. Then I went to my trusty computer and ordered a Nest E thermostat like I had installed in our Florida home (don’t ask me why we are living in Illinois in February while owning a perfectly nice home in Florida).

Nest Thermostat

I went to install the thermostat the next day (I ordered it rush delivery) and when I opened up the old thermostat, I mistakenly thought I had both an Rh and Rc wire installed (it turned out the previous owner of the house had wired the Rc and Rh wires with a jumper, but had run it under all the other wires and it looked like two separate wires), which is not compatible with the Nest E… so I returned the Nest E and ordered a Nest 3rd Generation Thermostat instead.

The Nest 3rd Generation thermostat is a little more advanced design with the ability to work with almost every furnace and air conditioning unit that operates with 24V thermostats. The Nest E had the limitation where you could not have 2 transformers in your system (when your furnace and your air conditioner are actually using two separate blower systems). Personally, I was irritated at myself for not digging a little deeper into the wiring, because I could have saved about $80 and the time it took me to return one thermostat and get the replacement. If I had only unscrewed the old thermostat’s base from the wall, I would have seen that only 4 wires went into the back of the thermostat, instead of the 5 I had initially believed to be there. But enough about spilled milk… clean it up and go on, right?

The Nest is great! I love setting up a schedule for the furnace and air conditioner for my sleep patterns. I have the furnace set very low from midnight to 5:30AM, for best sleep temperatures, then I have the furnace come on to bring the temperature up to 67 degrees, and then at 7:30AM it goes to 70 degrees for the rest of the day. Well, that is the plan, anyway. During the course of the day, my wife and I will adjust according to how we are feeling, and the cool part is that the thermostat will remember that when the outside temperatures are above freezing, that we don’t need it as warm during the day and when the temperatures are colder, that we might need it to be set a little higher.

Another cool feature of the Nest series of Thermostat is that when you are away, the system knows it and goes into ECO mode – where it keeps the house temperature between the limits that you set for it (although it will not allow you to let it get colder than 45 degrees in the house to protect your pipes) until you get home. This works as long as you have the Nest app on your phone and have registered the thermostat with your app. I have both the Florida home and the Illinois home on my Nest app, so when we make the trip to Florida, the Nest will lower your heating and cooling bills by not running if you are not there. My Florida electric bill has been under $50 each month that we are away, and I really like not having to constantly adjust the thermostat when I get up and go to bed.

Another great feature is the monthly report you get to your email, letting you know your energy usage. This has been a nice reminder that we aren’t heating or cooling an empty house and that there may be other ways to save energy if we notice a significant increase in usage (sometimes a grandchild will open a window, and unless you check the whole house every time they visit, you don’t know about it).

Of course, it would not be truly automated unless you could also control it with Alexa (here we call her ‘she who must not be named’ because when we say her name she answers us with cryptic messages… “hmmm, I don’t know that one!”). The integration is simple enough, although you may have to get creative in naming the device when you have more than one home. Luckily for us, the Florida home has the thermostat in the hallway and the Illinois home has it in the dining room, so it was easier than naming them Fred and Barney. So we ask Alexa to turn up the temperature in the hallway or dining room, depending on where we are. In homes that have multiple thermostats, this gives you an even greater control over you home energy use, as you can set different temperature schedules for each one.

The Good and the Bad

Of course, there is a serious flaw in the logic of having the Nest know where you are. If you are not home, but other family members are home, you need to turn the ECO mode off. Otherwise, you run the risk of freezing out your family members when you leave the house. When ECO mode is on, telling Alexa to fire up the heater will not work if the person with the phone the Nest is following is away. Bummer, honey, can I get you another blanket while I am at the store?

This is probably the only negative that I have found so far. The Nest thermostat, in my opinion, has changed the way we keep our home climate the way we like it. Now I only have to worry about getting shocked when I turn the lights on or off… wonder if they make something for that?

Alexa Enabled Orbi Voice Harmon Kardon Speaker With WiFi Range Extender

Get your Orbi Voice system today!

Orbi Voice is the best way to get Alexa enabled music at your command while extending your WiFi throughout your home. Heck, you could probably extend the WiFi all the way to your neighbor’s house with this system.

The price is what you would expect to pay for a WiFi extender, but you get Harmon Kardon sound and Alexa control of your music and anything else you want to control… I happen to like being the boss and ordering my house to do my bidding, and I am sure you will, too!

Orbi Voice with Alexa

Need A Solid Driveway? Give Geo Grid A Shot!

Need A Solid Driveway? Give Geo Grid A Shot!

I tried to park in my yard last winter when the snow plows needed access to the street. While the ground was hard, no problem. But once the spring thaw hit, the yard got messed up pretty bad. So we decided to get a quote for a concrete driveway. After I was revived from the sticker shock, I decided to look for an alternative.

Geo Grid is what I found.

So I am starting this project tomorrow, since I have everything arriving tomorrow and it is all going to be stacked in front of my garage. I will be documenting this on here so you can see how easy it is (even for someone who does not exactly wield a hammer or shovel on a regular basis).

Stay tuned!

Need A Solid Driveway? Give Geo Grid A Shot!

Alkaline Water Ionizer Series: (2) What To Look For?

As I mentioned in my previous article, I know that I want one of these for our home. The science behind the health benefits is overwhelmingly positive (that’s an Ion pun…). In fact, some of the things I want mine for is to help control my acid reflux and to add a lot of antioxidant power to my daily water intake.

But what are we supposed to look for in an Alkaline Water Ionizer?

  1. The ionizer itself should be easy to install. The under the sink models are not as easy to install as the countertop ones, since you usually only need to attach it to one of your faucets and plug the unit in and you are ready to use it.
  2. The unit should be easy to clean. I have read reviews on a few models and they actually have a self clean cycle that is performed automatically.
  3. Filters should be reasonably priced and not need to be replaced too frequently. What good is it to buy a $900 unit and then spend $125 a month for filters? If that is the case, I might as well spring for the $3500 unit… if I pay for it on my credit card, I am basically paying the same amount for it.
  4. The internal ionizing mechanism should be platinum or titanium plates. Those seem to hold up best to long term usage.
  5. The unit should allow you to make different water pH based on your needs. If you need acidic water (pH 3 to 6.5) for cleaning, the unit should have a setting for it. If you need more alkaline water (pH 7.5 to 11) for different uses, then you should be able to dial it up.

Aqua Water Ionizer

As you can see, I am interested in making sure that the unit is versatile and easy to use, but also cost effective and high quality. I can’t tell you which one to buy, but I can point you in the right direction for the one that will suit your needs (your needs may be different than mine).

Aqua Ionizer Deluxe 7.5

Winter Shortening Groundhog Day Strategy Revealed

With Winter in full swing, a lot of us are watching for the annual rodent reveal tomorrow with anticipation. In fact, I was praying for a snowstorm on Groundhog Day, so that the little fella wouldn’t be able to tell his shadow from a hole in the ground. But I thought about it, and I am going to switch to a different tactic.
Ground Hog Day Toolkit
You see, this Fall, I invested in a snow blower¬†and ended up getting to use it only two times so far. While I understand that Winter still has a long way to go, I feel like I will probably get to use it a lot more before Spring. Hence my idea for buying a gardening tool set in February. When I buy it, the same positive energy that brought me snow before Christmas will bring me Spring before April… and keep the groundhog out playing in the snow, ushering in an early Spring.

That’s my theory and I am sticking with it!

Didn't see his shadow...