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thank u, nest

Wednesday, February 8, 2023
In September, my roommates and I moved into a new apartment that has a Google Nest thermostat. At first, we manually set the temperature to what seemed reasonable. If we got too cold or too hot, we walked to the hallway and adjusted it. It was terribly inconvenient. After a couple of weeks living like some sort of poor, I finally got around to downloading the app.
I’ve forgotten the details, but the setup process sucked. There’s a Nest app and a Google Home app and apparently Google is planning on sunsetting the Nest app, but hasn’t moved all the features over, so you really need the Nest app, but you can’t create a “Home” without the Home app. Oh, and now Google will know what temperature your home is, please check this box to agree to the privacy policy, thank you. (“Back in my day, thermostats didn’t have privacy policies.
was the thermostat. When it got too cold, your great-grandfather would send me out to the wood shed to get another log to put on the fire and when it got too hot, I had to crank the hand-cranked fan and I had to walk six miles to school with forty pounds of textbooks in my bag, uphill both ways bla bla bla…”)
I learned during the set up process that our Nest was a smart thermostat. It had a motion detector, so it would learn when we were home or away, and adjust the temperature accordingly. It would also learn what temperatures we preferred during different parts of the day.
Squidward, shocked by the all-chrome future, cowers on the floor, crying
I woke up at 3am that first night drenched in sweat. Clearly, the thermostat hadn’t learned anything. And how could it?
, I thought, beginning to panic,
I’ll just manually override the temperature now and then it’ll learn to keep it cooler at night. And now I can even stay in bed to adjust it with the app. How nice is that? Okay, back to sleep. The AC will kick on soon. But, wait. How long will it take to learn that it’s too hot. Will I have to override it at 3am for a week? A month? What if it over-corrects and makes it too cold? I guess I just have to teach it by providing feedback. But why am I teaching a thermostat?! And the entire time that I’m teaching it, it will be the wrong temperature and I won’t be able to sleep or the electric bill will skyrocket. And what if it learns bad habits from my roommates? Oh, god, what if it thinks we’re not home? I came in the back door tonight, so I haven’t passed the motion sensor since this morning. And when we work from home, we could go hours and hours without ever passing it. Will we have to take turns walking past the thermostat to keep the AC on? How does it work? How does it learn? What am I doing, sweating here trying to figure out how to train a thermostat?! I’m the one with the body! I’m the one who can learn what temperature I like. I’m the one who can negotiate with my roommates. I’m the smart one. Me!
I turned off all the stupid learning features.
Now it’s just a thermostat that I can control with an app. This is kind of nice.