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Old 11-06-2019, 12:59 PM   #1
Aegypticus
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Default Smart Thermostat and Alberta Rebate Program

I've been considering getting a smart thermostat for a while, but never really got excited enough about them to make a purchase. I see now that the rebate program run by the Alberta government literally gives us until tomorrow (Nov. 7th) to get $75 back, so I figured now was as good a time as any to ask about them.

Do people think smart thermostats are worth the money? I've been a little unsure, and I've mostly been looking at one because I'm a bit of a tech-obsessive.

I think I'd be looking at one of the Nest Learning Thermostats, which is probably the most expensive one out there, but The Wirecutter seems to think that Nest is best, especially if you're already into the Google Home stuff. I don't think I could go with the Nest E because it doesn't seem like it can control a humidifier.

From a technical standpoint, it seems like installation of these things is a little more complicated than I originally thought. I'm pretty sure I can muddle through a DIY job, but it isn't the plug-and-play solution I was hoping for. I don't think my system currently has a common wire connected, but I did check behind my current thermostat and there seems to be extra wire strands in the wall. Also, because my humidifier is actuated by a solenoid, I'd have to add a relay to get the Nest to control it.

Has anyone gone through a setup with these types of complications? I like to think I'm pretty handy, but I'm also wary of the potential to brick parts of my HVAC system.

Thanks for any thoughts. I might grab a Nest regardless and do a little more research. Can always take it back if I decide against it, but gotta get that receipt dated Nov. 7th.
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Old 11-06-2019, 01:19 PM   #2
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First off thanks for reminding me about the rebate program, I had forgotten about that. I bought an Ecobee Lite a couple of weeks ago. It was really easy to install. My other thermostat didn't use a common wire either but there were 2 extra unused wires in the wall so I just connected one of them to the furnace control and then hooked it up to the thermostat. There is nothing in the instructions about controlling a humidifier so I don't know if it would control that, they have a phone number to assist with install but I didn't need to call it.

So far very happy with it. I turn down the furnace whenever noone is home and at night. You can set a schedule but so far I've been using the phone app.

I didn't even consider the Nest, a friend of mine who is in heating and air conditioning told me he's had lots of service calls with Nests going wonky, they might have fixed the problems with newer generation products though. Also, Google knows too much about everybody at this point, depriving them of more information is a good thing IMO.
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Old 11-06-2019, 01:21 PM   #3
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The rebate used to be $100 but they quietly reduced it down to $75, same for smart appliances as well (I think). I have the ecobee smart thermostat and it's been great. I can check the temperature on my phone while away from work and heat/cool the house down right before I get home. It also has a smart home feature that learns your schedule when you are home/away and adjusts accordingly. Install was a bit of a pain but if you know what you're doing should be fine.

Prices may come down for black Friday coming up but then you wouldn't get the rebate
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Old 11-06-2019, 01:25 PM   #4
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I just got 2 Nest E's. Installation was easy. Homedepot has it on for $199. Lowes will beat that by 10% online. I went to Signal Hill and request they do that, and they claimed it was on sale at $199 even though online it was $229 and in the store it was marked $229. I went home and ordered online and had them shipped to the store. I have to submit the claim today for the rebate. So I paid $179 each before the rebate.

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Old 11-06-2019, 01:27 PM   #5
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First off thanks for reminding me about the rebate program, I had forgotten about that.
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Prices may come down for black Friday coming up but then you wouldn't get the rebate
Is there anything stopping me from getting one now, applying for the rebate, then returning and buying it again if it goes on sale in the near future? I don't think that's technically cheating the system, is it?
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Old 11-06-2019, 06:25 PM   #6
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I just put through the rebate request. Needed to upload a jpg of the sales receipt and fill in a form with the make/model/price etc. I doubt that you would get caught if you returned it but that would probably be against the rules I'm guessing. Who knows, maybe the stores are verifying the sales with the government and they could find out that way?

I would just buy one today, the Ecobee lite is $220 at Rona, the Nest E is on sale for $200. Then you get the $75 rebate, that's pretty cheap.
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Old 11-06-2019, 07:00 PM   #7
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Why didn't you get the NDP to install a free one for you? I thought the program was ridiculous but I took advantage of it.
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Old 11-06-2019, 09:44 PM   #8
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I just put through the rebate request. Needed to upload a jpg of the sales receipt and fill in a form with the make/model/price etc.
Thanks. I wouldn’t put in the rebate if I wasn’t going to keep it. Was just thinking if I go get some price protection or something down the line a week or two, as long as I have a receipt dated before the 7th we should be ok.

I went and picked up the fancy Nest at Canadian Tire. Price is decent because I have a relative that works for the CT group.

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Why didn't you get the NDP to install a free one for you? I thought the program was ridiculous but I took advantage of it.
I guess laziness and maybe some ignorance of what the program was offering. Would you mind letting me know what you got done?
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Old 11-06-2019, 11:50 PM   #9
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Is there anything stopping me from getting one now, applying for the rebate, then returning and buying it again if it goes on sale in the near future? I don't think that's technically cheating the system, is it?
Thanks for the heads up, I just nabbed a Nest from the Lowe's website. Apparently the return policy is 90 days, so I presume you can always leave it in the box, ask about a price matching on black friday/cyber monday and return it and grab the better price if push comes to shove.

Yes, you can buy/return/buy again. The system is stupid. I even recall when the rebate was $100, I submitted a receipt on a $90 Honeywell Lyric T5 expecting to get $90 back and I instead received a cheque for $100. Every home is allowed up to 2 smart thermostat rebate requests, but as far as I can tell, you could run the rebate through another address of your control such as a business address. I wouldn't feel too bad about buying and returning the nest if you find a better deal as long as you fully intend to install a smart thermostat. But if you buy, claim the rebate, then return never intending to get a smart thermostat, that's kinda greasy.

Regarding your questions about the the Nest thermostat, I've had a gen 2 Nest for about 5 years now. It's worked perfectly fine. I hear they can get weird and wonky if they rely solely on power steal (no common wire), but mine worked fine for about 2 years on power steal until I had someone hook up the common wire from a bundle inside my wall so I don't know if the unit still continues to work fine after years on power steal. I have Heat/AC/humidifier all hooked up to it and I also grabbed a sensor so that I don't have to manually change the temperatures to make my room warmer/cooler at night.

Installation was relatively easy. Watch the installation video they have. The Nest comes with a sticker kit to label the wires if you want and a plastic mount to make it look nice on the wall. I even remember it came with some crazy screw driver to facilitate the installation. Nest also has a small ecosystem, but I don't know how they all interact together. I bought a Nest tonight fully planning on taking my current one with me and installing both in my new place which has a dual furnace. I hear the units will actually cooperate with each other.
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Old 11-07-2019, 12:22 AM   #10
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I grabbed two Nest thermostats a few months ago, cause I remembered Kenney making a statement during the election campaign saying the program would be scrapped.

The install was super easy, tbh, even for a DIY beginner like me. It's literally just take the old thermostat off, disconnect the wires (the Nest even comes with wire labels), attach the Nest mount to the wall, connect wires, attach thermostat.
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:48 AM   #11
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I think the benefit of a smart thermostat vs a regular programmable thermostat becomes more apparent if you get some additional sensors to go with it. I have an Ecobee with a few extra sensors which check the temperature in different parts of the house (not just where the thermostat is) and also sense motion to determine if there is someone home. I probably don't end up saving money vs a programmable thermostat, particularly when you factor in upfront costs for the sensors, but from a comfort/convenience perspective it is nice to have the automatic adjustment to the program when you are home or in a particular part of the house.
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Old 11-07-2019, 11:34 AM   #12
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I guess laziness and maybe some ignorance of what the program was offering. Would you mind letting me know what you got done?
In regards to the thermostat they put in a Eccobee3 lite. They didn't provide any extra sensors.
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Old 11-07-2019, 03:15 PM   #13
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I took advantage of the $100 rebate a little while back. Went with the Ecobee. Installation was super simple, the only issue is the common wire. I didn’t have one running from my furnace to the old thermostat. So I had to do that. Luckily my thermostat is basically right above the furnace so even that wasn’t too bad.

I like the ecobee because it comes with a remote sensor you can place anywhere in your home. The unit tries to accommodate for the sensor and the temperature at the thermostat. Neat little feature.

Also really easy to setup or change the schedule. I find it it be quite user friendly and the unit and the sensor can detect motion so I can see if my son is in the house or not, aka poor mans security feature.
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Old 11-07-2019, 03:51 PM   #14
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We have a programmable thermostat, but it’s always been such a pain in the ass to set it that I haven’t used those functions in years. Sounds like we’ll get a big benefit just from being able to set the thing up with a lot less frustration.
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Old 11-09-2019, 11:07 AM   #15
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We went with the Ecobee 3, Ecobee had a refurbished thermostat program on their website. Ecobee 3 had just been replaced by the Ecobee 4 which I didn’t want as the Alexa integration wasn’t worth the added cost, plus it didn’t have Echo Spacial Perception so it would have intercepted “Alexa” commands from our Echo Dots/Echo Show. Also didn’t want the Ecobee 3 Lite because the house has a humidifier.

Sadly, the refurb models didn’t qualify for the rebate program. But I have the 3, with three room sensors and we couldn’t be happier with it. Even have it integrated with SmartThings so the house knows when we’re out and goes into Away mode, and detects when we’re within 1 KM of home and puts it back into Home mode. Also I really like the reminders for filter changes and HVAC servicing, one less thing to remember.

I like the white, clean aesthetic of the Nest E but Ecobee wins it for me on features and third party extensibility.
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Old 11-16-2019, 01:28 PM   #16
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I've had both, started with a nest when they came out around 8 years ago, pretty quickly swapped that for an Ecobee in a straight across trade with someone. That ecobee has been still running without an issue since then. The limiting factor for the nest for me was the lack of remote sensors, being a shift worker and in a house with my bedroom on the S/SW facing side it would never get the bedroom to a comfortable temp without having to figure out how cold to make the rest of the house when the AC was on. I bought an extra sensor pack and have only remote sensors doing the averaging (not the main sensor because its in the front hallway). Also does follow me/occupancy sensing. I set a custom mode for when I'm daysleeping to only use the bedroom sensor and ignore the others and I'm comfortable.


I was a really early adopter by almost a decade so sadly no rebate. I suppose I could have reinstalled my old thermostat and had them come in and do the install they were doing a couple years ago and sold it but that wouldn't be fair
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Old 11-20-2019, 12:54 PM   #17
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I like the ecobee because it comes with a remote sensor you can place anywhere in your home. The unit tries to accommodate for the sensor and the temperature at the thermostat. Neat little feature.

Also really easy to setup or change the schedule. I find it it be quite user friendly and the unit and the sensor can detect motion so I can see if my son is in the house or not, aka poor mans security feature.
I have a gen 2 nest. The Nest has sensors now. They're $50 a piece which is comparable to the Ecobee sensors. The Nest ones only detect temperature though, so if the Ecobee ones can do motion as well, that's obviously better. No humidity or motion as far as I know. The transition of use between sensors is also divided into 4 quarters of the day for scheduling which is kinda dumb (every 6:00 or 12:00). But at least I can manually use the sensor over the thermostat at specific times. No idea if more specific control of sensors are available in later gen Nests or if it will be a future update.

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We went with the Ecobee 3, Ecobee had a refurbished thermostat program on their website. Ecobee 3 had just been replaced by the Ecobee 4 which I didn’t want as the Alexa integration wasn’t worth the added cost, plus it didn’t have Echo Spacial Perception so it would have intercepted “Alexa” commands from our Echo Dots/Echo Show. Also didn’t want the Ecobee 3 Lite because the house has a humidifier.

Sadly, the refurb models didn’t qualify for the rebate program. But I have the 3, with three room sensors and we couldn’t be happier with it. Even have it integrated with SmartThings so the house knows when we’re out and goes into Away mode, and detects when we’re within 1 KM of home and puts it back into Home mode. Also I really like the reminders for filter changes and HVAC servicing, one less thing to remember.

I like the white, clean aesthetic of the Nest E but Ecobee wins it for me on features and third party extensibility.
Do you have any experience with the Nest or any idea if either of these two thermostats play well with one another? My brother has the Ecobee and he says it works well enough and whatnot, but he hates the interface. No idea why, but he seems to imply that there are things about it that nag him as a software engineer.

I am tempted to offer a straight swap of my Nest + sensors for his Ecobee and so that I can learn how it works and see if it plays nice with a Nest parallel to it (dual furnace/thermostat at new place). I originally acquired another Nest as I hear they communicate well with each other, but I wouldn't be opposed to trying both.

I agree about the filter reminders. I love that feature on the Nest as well.

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I've had both, started with a nest when they came out around 8 years ago, pretty quickly swapped that for an Ecobee in a straight across trade with someone. That ecobee has been still running without an issue since then. The limiting factor for the nest for me was the lack of remote sensors, being a shift worker and in a house with my bedroom on the S/SW facing side it would never get the bedroom to a comfortable temp without having to figure out how cold to make the rest of the house when the AC was on. I bought an extra sensor pack and have only remote sensors doing the averaging (not the main sensor because its in the front hallway). Also does follow me/occupancy sensing. I set a custom mode for when I'm daysleeping to only use the bedroom sensor and ignore the others and I'm comfortable.

I was a really early adopter by almost a decade so sadly no rebate. I suppose I could have reinstalled my old thermostat and had them come in and do the install they were doing a couple years ago and sold it but that wouldn't be fair
The Nest has sensors now which might negate the difference slightly, but to me, they seem really rudimentary vs the Ecobee sensors. What are your opinions on how well the sensors work for the Nest and what differences between the Nest and Ecobee were the most jarring to you?

I've also heard complaints vice versa Ecobee and Nest about interfaces. Do you have a down and dirty pros and cons about each? I have tried to read up on the differences and many of the explanations aren't super helpful IMO as it seems obvious that many individuals are often parroting things they hear rather than discuss actual practical things they know about the units.


I just sent in my application for the rebate. Now to wait 6-8 weeks.
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Old 11-20-2019, 04:04 PM   #18
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I hate my Nest. It’s likely that I don’t fully understand it but it changes settings without us doing anything. The heat comes on or the temp goes down when we’ve changed nothing. The only thing I like it that I can control it from my phone and iPad.
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Old 11-20-2019, 05:42 PM   #19
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I hate my Nest. It’s likely that I don’t fully understand it but it changes settings without us doing anything. The heat comes on or the temp goes down when we’ve changed nothing. The only thing I like it that I can control it from my phone and iPad.
Do you have the auto-schedule feature turned on? I turned it off on mine because of how annoying it was that the temps didn't fit what we wanted at all.
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:04 PM   #20
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Do you have the auto-schedule feature turned on? I turned it off on mine because of how annoying it was that the temps didn't fit what we wanted at all.
I hated my nest also it was annoying I sold it and got an ecobee but I dont really use any of the features on it
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