Nest learning thermostat learned to be a jerk

We installed a Nest learning thermostat last year when we replaced the heating & air conditioner. It’s nifty, we thought! It will learn our preferences, we thought!

For quite a while (read, summer time) it was wonderful. Sometimes we would adjust the temperature on the fancy iPhone app, but it usually kept the house comfortable.

Now it’s winter time, which in Southern California means we have chilly nights and can get up to 80 degrees during the day. This morning it was 40 and it’s forecasted to be 75, so a 35 degree split. This seems like the perfect challenge for a Nest learning thermostat! Figure out that we like the house to be right around 70-72, so give us a little heat in the morning and maybe a little cool in the afternoon (if at all), then only if it gets cold outside, give us a little heat at night. Not too difficult.

Recently, we found that every afternoon, the heater was coming on and running hell bent for leather because the Nest had set itself to 77 degrees. We turned the temperature down. The next day, the same thing happened, we turned the temperature down again. The next day, repeat…until I finally googled this and it seems Nest will automatically set target temperatures based on what it thinks you like.

I have never set the heat to 77 degrees. Ever. My husband is a walking heater so he¬†certainly hasn’t set it to 77. Where did Nest get this idea?

It's lying to you

You set it here, but psych! it’s 77

As it turns out, other people have been complaining about this very thing. One poor guy’s Nest was kicking up the heat to 90! The Nest is supposed to learn your schedule as you use it, and then it creates scheduled temperature actions, such as heating or cooling, based on your habits. Since we haven’t ever set the heat to 77 I’m not sure why Nest thinks we want that, but I digress. The only way to try to trick the Nest is to delete the preset schedule. Hurray! we thought, we have fixed it! John deleted the full week’s worth of preset temperature spikes to 77 degrees in the afternoon.

Wouldn’t you know it. Nest has added a full preset schedule to send that temperature up to 77 every morning.

I don’t want it to be 77 in the house. Ever. That’s the point I start thinking of turning on the air conditioner. Searching the Nest community forums revealed that you cannot really get rid of this scheduling feature. You can only “teach” your Nest better. Really? 8 months of teaching this thing isn’t enough for it to know that 77 degrees is hot. It’s frustrating.

The concept of a learning thermostat is only as good as the programmers that allow the consumer to actually teach the damn thing their preferences. At this point, resetting the Nest to its original out-of-the-box status and starting over might be the only way to teach it we don’t want to roast. The one thing Nest does have going for it is the convenience of the iPhone app. If I had to interrupt work to walk over and reset the thermostat every time it had a hot flash, I’d be tempted to smash it off the wall instead.