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Smart thermostat company Nest this week announced a new energy saving initiative coming on the day of the total solar eclipse, August 21, 2017. During the eclipse, clean solar energy will be reduced and in some areas of the United States traditional power plants will have to fire up in order to cover the energy shortfall for a brief period of time.

nest-eclipse-time.jpg

Nest's solution is a "Solar Eclipse Rush Hour" setting that will be sent to thermostats across the U.S. days ahead of the eclipse. The program will help offset the drop in energy production during the eclipse by automatically pre-cooling homes ahead of time. Once users notice the message, and agree to participate, the Nest Thermostat will lower the temperature of their home before the eclipse.
So, we're encouraging people across the US to help offset this drop in energy production by pre-cooling their homes before the eclipse. If you don't own a Nest thermostat, you can manually adjust the temperature by one or two degrees during the eclipse. If you join, a few hours before the eclipse hits your area, your Nest Thermostat may automatically pre-cool your home so that you can save energy during the eclipse. After the eclipse, your thermostat will go back to its regular schedule.
The company said that with enough Nest devices participating, users will be able to "meaningfully reduce" energy demand during the eclipse. Of course, if the temperature becomes too warm during the time of the eclipse, users can still manually change the temperature at any time. Once the eclipse has ended, Nest will go back to its regular schedule of warming and cooling.


Nest's new Solar Eclipse Rush Hour is part of the Rush Hour program that began back in 2013, which has a similar energy-saving goal. In that program, Nest Thermostats warn users of when a high-demand energy period is coming, particularly during warm days when many people will activate their air conditioners. If participating, Nest will automatically pre-cool the home and keep its energy output low during the Rush Hour -- enough to keep users comfortable -- and then return to regular programming afterward.

Over the summer, a rumor came out that Nest was potentially considering adding HomeKit support into its smart thermostat products. However, a subsequent report that cited a Nest employee said that the company has "no immediate plans" to support Apple's smart home platform and "no roadmap" for such an update. Apple has a few smart thermostats it highlights and sells in the HomeKit section of its online store, including those made by ecobee, iDevices, and Honeywell.

In regards to the eclipse, the partial phase will hit Oregon at around 9 a.m. PT on August 21, with totality occurring about one hour later. For more local times on when the eclipse will be near your area, and the safety precautions you should take when trying to view the event, check out NASA's web page.

Article Link: Nest Will Automatically Pre-Cool Homes Participating in New 'Solar Eclipse Rush Hour' Program
 

armhol

macrumors member
Jul 15, 2007
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61
This is not energy saving as the power will be used before the eclipse rather than during. This is just a shift to use clean energy before rather than traditional during the eclipse.

Also temperatures will drop during the eclipse anyway due to the sun being obscured.
 

OldSchoolMacGuy

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Jul 10, 2008
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This is not energy saving as the power will be used before the eclipse rather than during. This is just a shift to use clean energy before rather than traditional during the eclipse.

Also temperatures will drop during the eclipse anyway due to the sun being obscured.

The standing temp outside may drop but it takes hours for buildings and other structures to see temp drop from this. It won't have any noticeable impact on the temp inside most homes during that time, any more than a cloud coming overhead.
 

manu chao

macrumors 604
Jul 30, 2003
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This is not energy saving as the power will be used before the eclipse rather than during. This is just a shift to use clean energy before rather than traditional during the eclipse.
Not completely, starting up a conventional power plant for only a couple of hours is rather inefficient such that the ratio of coal (or more likely gas) consumption and consequently CO2 emissions to actually produced electrical energy is noticeably higher than during normal operations.
 

riverfreak

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Jan 10, 2005
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Over the Reignbough
The standing temp outside may drop but it takes hours for buildings and other structures to see temp drop from this. It won't have any noticeable impact on the temp inside most homes during that time, any more than a cloud coming overhead.

Or for really efficient buildings, days.

But Nest has never seemed to take into account thermal masses. It barely works with radiant systems, for example, and certainly no more efficiently than an old analog thermostat.
 

Jimmy Bubbles

macrumors 6502a
Jul 10, 2008
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Nashville, TN
Not completely, starting up a conventional power plant for only a couple of hours is rather inefficient such that the ratio of coal (or more likely gas) consumption and consequently CO2 emissions to actually produced electrical energy is noticeably higher than during normal operations.

How about we just all go plant a tree, like John Denver sang about to help offset the CO2. By all means, that IS what plants breathe in and in turn, give back oxygen.
 

bacaramac

macrumors 65816
Dec 29, 2007
1,419
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Ugh, again the comments on HomeKit. Damn Google purchas really shafted Nest supporters who are likely a majority iOS users to begin with. I love nest products, but not having HomeKit is just annoying. I’m pretty sure next step for Nest is full home security system and I’m pissed I won’t be able to use HomeKit.
 

nt5672

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Jun 30, 2007
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Who really wants this type of micro management? How long before someone decides that not enough people are signing up and in the name of protecting the planet for our children will just make it happen without an opt out.

Nope, we sold our Nest. At the end of the day it was modern, but not very good at managing temperature, failed completely at managing humidity and well we don't agree with Google hypocrisy and privacy actions.
 

JetTester

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Feb 12, 2014
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So, they're going to make the house colder than the thermostat is set on, then shut it off during the eclipse and let it warm back up to the set temperature? Why not just shut it off during the eclipse and then cool it back down? If people are home, they are going to be uncomfortable either way. And if they are out watching the eclipse, they could just turn the system off while they are out. Seems like nothing more than a big advertising opportunity to me.
 
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coolfactor

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Jul 29, 2002
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Vancouver, BC
This is not energy saving as the power will be used before the eclipse rather than during. This is just a shift to use clean energy before rather than traditional during the eclipse.

Also temperatures will drop during the eclipse anyway due to the sun being obscured.

The standing temp outside may drop but it takes hours for buildings and other structures to see temp drop from this. It won't have any noticeable impact on the temp inside most homes during that time, any more than a cloud coming overhead.

Have you ever noticed that it gets warmer inside the house at night, when the outside temperature drops? This is energy that was absorbed by walls of the building being released into the building.

I'm not sure how pre-cooling the house in advance will help. It may actually just be a waste of energy before the eclipse.
 

OldSchoolMacGuy

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Jul 10, 2008
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Have you ever noticed that it gets warmer inside the house at night, when the outside temperature drops? This is energy that was absorbed by walls of the building being released into the building.

I'm not sure how pre-cooling the house in advance will help. It may actually just be a waste of energy before the eclipse.

There's a reason your AC has to kick on every 30-60 minutes when you're home. This will just drop the temp a bit more so it doesn't rise to the set point of uncomfort while the eclipse is going on. Like chilling a beer even colder than you'd normally drink it, so it stays within the drinking range longer in the hot sun.
 

dona83

macrumors 6502
Nov 26, 2004
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Kelowna, BC
The better approach would've been to let the home air temperatures creep up. Besides, half of the cooling load in homes comes from solar gains through windows, then another quarter through internal heat gains mostly cooking. Just turn that A/C off, grab your solar eclipse glasses, have friends over, BBQ, and enjoy the show.
 
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jettredmont

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Jul 25, 2002
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I've been meaning to sell my nest and switch over to an ecobee for a while now.

We bought an ecobee (ecobee 3 lite) last week to replace one (of two) old Honeywell thermostat.

The Homekit integration is very nice, and setting up a schedule was a breeze (I'm not one for the "smart" thermostat auto-scheduling, primarily because we have eight people and three dogs in the house all with wildly varying schedules so I have no confidence a thermostat would ever make sense of what we want when and also couldn't rely on motion sensors since the English Mastiff looks just like a person to any motion sensor). And, unlike the Honeywell, it was also a breeze setting up a "peak electricity" cool-down/warm-up cycle to avoid using the AC during the more-expensive peak energy times of 4-9 weekdays. So far, per PG&E's website, we're saving about $5/day compared to before the ecobee, but the temps also haven't gotten quite as hot this last week so that peak-energy avoidance strategy might end up not being as effective on a real scorcher where the house heats up too quickly.

All that said, ecobees are much cheaper than Nest, allow for "remote sensors" in any number of rooms you'd like to build a more complete efficacy picture in the thermostat, and allow you to use Siri to interrogate your thermostat ("Hey Siri, what is the temperature upstairs?" is the most common evening query in our house, replacing me walking up the stairs and shining a flashlight on the unlit Honeywell's screen to see what it says) as well as adjust the schedule when the last one leaves / first arrives home with absolute ease. The app is great when we don't want to talk (I'm still not a big proponent of talking to devices). We don't have enough other Homekit stuff to really benefit from "scenes" and such, but that is something I'm still experimenting with.

One other difference with ecobee is that you generally don't set specific temperatures on the device, but "comfort settings". You have three: "home", "away", and "sleeping". Each comfort setting has a minimum temperature (for when heating is on) and a max temperature (for when cooling is on). This indirection makes it easy to set things up so that it is a little cooler (or a little warmer) at night, without having to go to each day's schedule to set a specific temperature each time. That said, we have to reuse the "sleeping" comfort setting at the 3-4 hour to hyper-cool the house, and the "away" setting from 4-9 to allow it to heat up as needed. It took a little getting used to, but overall I like ecobee's approach.

The second (downstairs) thermostat won't really pay for itself until we get to heating season, so we won't be upgrading it until later in the fall. That one might end up being an ecobee 3 (non-lite) which includes one other-room sensor, and we might get a few other sensors to go with it (if someone is in the downstairs bedroom we might need to run the AC/heat longer to keep it comfortable, same with the office and potentially the front room).

Overall, without having seen anything other than Nest's marketing materials, I am quite happy with ecobee, and it integrates well with our iOS devices (and supports Alexa etc, for the Google/Amazon folks).
 
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vipergts2207

macrumors 68030
Apr 7, 2009
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Up to 2.5 minutes of the sun being fully covered up (in certain areas) makes that big of a dent in solar panel energy production and requires "traditional power to be fired up?" I'm calling BS.

The whole eclipse is roughly 3 hours when you include the partial phases.
 

jettredmont

macrumors 68030
Jul 25, 2002
2,731
328
The better approach would've been to let the home air temperatures creep up. Besides, half of the cooling load in homes comes from solar gains through windows, then another quarter through internal heat gains mostly cooking. Just turn that A/C off, grab your solar eclipse glasses, have friends over, BBQ, and enjoy the show.

People in the summer generally prefer to be a little cold over a little hot, so the "pre-cool" allows energy use during the eclipse (where presumably we will have peak energy use) to be avoided. "Just let the temp creep up" starting from "comfortable" means that the moment the eclipse starts the temp will be above comfortable for the occupants, which human nature tells us means they will fairly quickly turn the thermostat back on to resume its normal schedule.
 
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