A stupid Internet of Things story

Recently my Nest thermostat started getting aggressive about going into Eco or Away mode to save energy. Normally, it’s probably fine but our winter has been a bit chilly this year and I’ve started to notice.

I’ll be working in my home office for a couple hours and suddenly it’s freezing. I’ll check the Nest and it’ll have dropped to 65ºF in Eco mode and will take two hours to get up to 70ºF in the winter. If I don’t get up and visit my kitchen every hour or so, my Nest thinks I’m out of the house.

I realize if the Nest worked with Apple’s Homekit, I could probably figure out a way to use my phone’s location inside the house to denote my presence and keep the heat running normally when I work at home. But Nest is owned by Google, and they’re in an eternal battle with Apple, so that’s not going to happen.

I relayed this nonsense to a friend who came up with a remedy immediately: if I owned a Nest camera, and I put it in my office, it would know I was around and keep the heat on.

He was right of course, but I had to picture it to grasp it fully. In order to keep my house warm when I’m working at home away from my smart thermostat I’d need to buy a $400 camera and point it at myself in my home office so that my thermostat knew I was on the other side of the house.

This is the current state of IoT devices and ecosystems.

Published by mathowie

I build internet stuff.

6 replies on “A stupid Internet of Things story”

  1. Um, the Nest app has an option to use your phone’s location to determine if you’re home. If you go into settings, there’s a “what decides if you’re home” menu, and you can choose your phone or add someone else’s too.


      1. True, I’ve found it and enabled it. But two others live in my house so it’s not a perfect solution when I’m out and they’re not.


      2. You can add the other two household users’ Nest accounts to your home and have them turn on Home/Away Assist as well, so then, theoretically, Eco mode will only activate when no-one’s home.

        I get your point though – this kind of thing shouldn’t be this complicated.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. That’s why I bought an Ecobee3 rather than a Nest: they have additional wireless sensors you can place around the house to avoid the problem you’re describing.

    Plus, it can leverage temperature readings in specific rooms across different times of day (eg. all rooms during the day, only bedrooms at night, etc.), which is much more precise than a single sensor especially in a two-story home!


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