Nest Thermostat Now available in the UK

I remember seeing Nest a while ago when Kevin Rose tweeted & talked about it. I’m a real geek when it comes to eco technology & energy saving so i was very excited to finally get hold of Nest.

Nest thermostat demo unit

I finally found it in John Lewis in Liverpool. I had completely forgot that it had been released due to moving house but I’m glad I spotted it.

Nest is a smart thermostat which has learning capabilities & the ability to control it from an Android or iOS app.

The blurb for nest is as follows :-

Most people leave the house at one temperature and forget to change it. So the Nest Learning Thermostat learns your schedule, programs itself and can be controlled from your phone. Teach it well and the Nest Thermostat can lower your heating and cooling bills up to 20%.

This is the holy grail for eco folks. The thermostat learns your heating routines & the temperatures you tend to set at different times of the day. The idea being that as it becomes more aware your intervention with your thermostat is reduced & subsequently you save money on your heating bills.

As a product this thing is amazing. Aside from the fact it can be set to turn your heating off when you leave the house and switch it back on when you return, the product itself is actually very attractive. The design is spot on & it has a solid feel. The OS is operated by twisting the external body of the thermostat left and right, similar to the original ipods, and when you click it down the menu item displayed on the small LCD is drilled down. It has loads of settings & can tell you historical savings & heating changes. I really like the OS and I think it will be simple for most people to quickly get to grips with.

The brushed steel body and beautiful display really do allow this product to bring central heating into the 21st century. The thermostat allows you to program the heating also so no more trekking out into the workshop like I’ve always had to do when I wanted to adjust the timing of the boiler or turn it off or on.

One of the biggest draws for me is the automatic switching off/on when you leave/return home. I’m in and out a lot during the day & I’m always operating the programmer & thermostat. Furthermore we travel to Scotland on a regular basis and always turn the heating off when we are away. This means the house is freezing when we come back. With nest you can open the app and remotely switch on your central heating, perfect to do a few hours before you arrive home.

The Nest Thermostat connects to your home network via WiFi via standard 802.11b/g/n and comes complete with a two year warranty. It’s also equipped with a built in rechargeable lithium ion battery so should have plenty of battery life and plenty of charge cycles in it. The box contains the thermostat (display & base) and a heat link unit along with power cord, power plug, wall screws, installation guide, welcome guide and nest certified installation card.

The sales people didn’t have much information. I’m aware this is a new product but when asking about installation & costs it wasn’t made very clear. I’m under the impression you can self install or have it installed at a cost. The thermostat on it’s own is priced at £179 and installed it’s £249 so not exactly cheap but will pay for itself in no time.

Buy nest over on their website

Nest is available directly from the manufacturer & you can have a hands on play with it in John Lewis stores.

I will be purchasing one of these but I’m currently on the hunt for a new place to live so I’ll wait until i move in before getting one & paying to have it fitted.

Have you had a Nest thermostat installed? How have you found it with regards cost/energy saving & in general use? I would love to hear what you think.

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A quick update

Just thought I would write a quick update on here. It’s one of those therapeutic things, better to write things down to get things out of your mind.

We are temporarily staying with family. For independent self employed people this is very hard. We are grateful to have a place to stay while we look for our next place to live but it’s very difficult going from having all of your own space to being in someone else’s. At least it’s only a temporary setup until we find the perfect apartment.

I’ve been working a lot on our business of late. Promoting it on Twitter, Facebook & various other platforms. It has been going for a few years now and while it makes us some good money things could always be better. I’ve decided to dedicate a few months to growing the Kool badges business & if I cant double the pageviews in that time I think I will look at doing some part time work. I have a well stocked CV so I might be able to get something interesting. It’s not that we aren’t earning money but we could always do with a little more when saving for a house deposit.

I’m also going to start my tech writing again. It’s a skill I had perfected & I used to relish testing & writing about new software & hardware. I need a creative outlet so I’ll be adding much more tech related articles here on the blog.

So if you have a minute go checkout our Business, Koolbadges. If you want to link to us that would be much appreciated.

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Downsizing – biggest step complete

Well we have now moved out of our massive house. We are looking for a much smaller place so in the mean time we are staying with family & the few belongings we decided to keep are now packed neatly away in storage. We did so many trips to the charity shop in a van, not to mention all the things we sold on eBay including furniture and clothing.

The aim was to get all of our belongings into one short wheelbase transit. We managed to get it down to two loads in said transit but we still have some things to sell so the goal in achievable.

To put it into perspective, we are now staying in one room in a family members home. It’s a fairly big room and we have access to the rest of the house but we have all of our work stuff, along with our bed & a sofa in one room. It’s like a crash course in downsizing but we have adjusted to it in less than a week & the benefits are already clear. I’ll highlight a few.

1. Heating costs – As we are in a small space and the computers & even our bodies give off heat we have no need to heat the room. None at all, in fact it’s cold in Britain and we have the window open.

2. Electricity – We only have a macbook pro using around 20 watts, an iMac using around 40 watts and a lamp using power. The lamp has a 7w bulb so our combined electricity usage is around 70w per hour. Our old house used to idle at around 700w. We got rid of the TV and just use the iMac as a TV to catchup on all of our TV & youTube.

3. Cleaning – Daily chore but takes 5 minutes.

Now we won’t be living like this forever, only until we find the perfect place with a good balance of workspace & living space. So far we are dealing well with it & the savings in the short term are phenomenal. Really looking forward to finding a really efficient and well thought out space to live in. We are so suited to European style apartments, surely we can get something similar in the UK.

We managed to fit our entire life into two van loads

We managed to fit our entire life into two van loads

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Downsizing – picking up pace.

Well things are starting to move quite quickly. We have been without a car now for almost a month and we have got on just fine. We are renting a car this weekend to do some days out & visit Manchester to get some business done. We ended up getting a really good deal and it was £60 for 4 days for a super economical small car.

House to let

The biggest thing is the house listing. After a month of waiting we finally got the house on the market & a sign up outside. Less than 24 hours later we have viewings lined up & hopefully things will move quickly. I’m excited to move on & start the next chapter of life. I know that won’t be in St Helens anymore & I’ve made my peace with that. The fact is apart from my good friends & a few family members I have very little tying me to this place now & it’s time to get back out there and start living again. Paying for this quasi-mansion has almost killed us. We have all this space & it’s lucky because once it’s all paid for each month there is very little money left over so we are trapped in it.

We are still not sure where we will end up next. Perhaps Manchester or Amsterdam. Perhaps somewhere completely obscure.

We have a hell of a lot to sort out in the Meantime. Everything is going into a small storage unit & we know when we eventually get another place to call home it will be considerably smaller. This means that all of the furniture we have accrued to fill this house has got to go. Some of it has already gone and other pieces are up for sale as we speak.

Another thing I’m thinking of down the line, once all debts are paid & we are free of the stress that entails, is the purchase of another car. I’m a real sucker for Land Rover. I fell in love with the brand young and it will always have a place in my heart, but in the 21st Century it’s not the wisest purchase. I’m really wanting to go down the electric car route. The Renault Zoe has really caught my eye & the Nissan Leaf (latest revision) is a great prospect with its 130 mile range.

Being self employed makes obtaining credit for cars quite difficult so I’m thinking of saving a massive chunk of the money, if not all of the money to buy one outright. For a car like the Zoe that is £14k, but I’m hoping by the time we have ourselves right & aren’t spending all of our cash on debt repayments that we will be able to save relatively quickly.

A car is the only thing I’ll ever willingly spend money on. It gives a great amount of freedom & also allows your to live somewhere idyllic but still take part in city life. It’s a delicate balancing act when you run your own business from home. You don’t have to live anywhere in particular, but when you have the choice of living anywhere it’s a really hard decision. Not many people would understand that & most would think I’m talking complete bollocks but it’s true. Let me explain.

If you live in a city, you have access to everything on your doorstep. You have bars & events, clubs, education, culture, life. But with that comes expensive rents, overcrowding, poverty, crime, lack of countryside & no peace & quiet. With a rural life it’s all the complete opposite. I guess we are looking for a happy medium.

This post turned into a bit of a rant so i will leave it there. Hopefully some of it resonates with at least one person out there.

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Downsizing Challenge – Bumps in the road but luckily no car

So we are still in the process of simplifying our lives. As you can tell by the blog, this has been put off for a while due to various family issues & our need to drive to/from Scotland every few weeks. We are slowly getting back on track but the downsizing is going to have to take a different shape.

As an update, we have now spoken to our landlord & are waiting on them finding a suitable tenant for the property. We are going to end the lease on this property & stay with family until everything calms down allowing us to move on. The plan for the future is still the same but due to the family problems we are going to be putting all of our things into storage for a while. Our storage is already sorted and we have committed to a 150sq/ft room. That’s pretty small when you consider we are in a 4 bedroom house with garage.

We chose this room as part of this challenge. If we can fit everything into this room (which is essentially the size of a large transit van) we will have simplified our lives to a great extent. There is something quite liberating about knowing you can pack all of your things into a single van and do a single trip to somewhere new. Perhaps a little nomadic but that’s how I want to live for a while.

So the downsizing has really begun now. We limited ourselves to 15 boxes to pack our things into. Most of our furniture is for sale, old clothes have been donated to charity or sold on eBay.

15 Boxes ready for packing

15 Boxes ready for packing

We have already sold a lot of stuff including the big one, the car! This was such a hard thing for me to do. I’ve owned cars since I was 18 & all of the time I’ve been able to drive I’ve had my own car. This is the first time in 6 years I don’t have one & it’s scary. However I’ve also found it very liberating. In the three days since it went I’ve probably walked about 28 miles. My wife & I walk to the printers, post office, grocery shops & coffee shop daily. It gives us time to reflect, time to chit chat & time to reconnect. We got absolutely soaked yesterday in a massive storm but we felt such a sense of achievement at the end of the day (and slept like babies).

House with no car

House with no car

Being without a car in a city is fine, it’s the norm, but as we still live in a suburban area we are the exception. We see a few kids & people out for a walk but most people are in their cars. It’s quite eerie. I had no issues walking everywhere when I lived in Manchester & Dundee but it does feel weird walking around the suburbs. I keep telling myself that all the wheels are in motion & soon we will be back out in the world on our next adventure.

So without a car a few problems arise but we have overcome them so far. We live 1.3 miles from the train station. We can walk it in about 25 minutes and we can go onwards to anywhere in the UK. We also live within 15 miles of a major airport & can catch a bus straight to it (or a taxi). Grocery shopping can be done locally & we can order online for a weekly grocery delivery. I know if it was a long-term thing we would get bored with walking with so few things available to us, but we have a plan & goals so I’m not too worried.

So we are now car free & a big chunk of debt has vanished. Also a lot of risk has gone. No chance of unforeseen repair bills, no insurance renewal, no tax, no insurance, no fuel or maintenance, no servicing costs, no parking fees, no breakdown cover. It’s crazy how much we will save & have saved already (tax, service & insurance renewals where all due which has saved us £1000 this month alone). Also by paying off a credit card we are £140 in minimum payment better off each month and £120 in interest per month is saved. Crazy money.

I’ll keep the blog updated day by day. I’ll try to highlight the negatives as well as the positives of this change in lifestyle. I’ll document the selling of items & boxing up of our belongings & ultimately being debt free & ready for some big adventures.

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Downsizing update – One room empty

I finally managed to clear a whole room. The room happens to be a spare bedroom we where using as a store room/guest room. After a lot of selling & donating the contents of the room have been sorted & downsized considerably. Bed has gone as has associated bedding. Furniture has been sold and a lot of the stuff we where storing has been sold off. Feels great. The room is now clean & closed off.

Most of the stuff we had stored in this room where things that people had bought for us which we didn’t really want but felt obliged to keep. These have now been donated to charity. This means that someone will get some joy out of them rather than us storing them & our charity of choice makes some cash in the process. Furthermore we have reduced the size of home we need by one whole bedroom.

We have also cleared out our master bathroom, we have 4 in this house and we are closing off each bathroom until we are using only one.

Finally I’m in the process of clearing out the garage. I have a huge collection of tools that I’ve bought & inherited, but many of the tools I have two or three units of. I don’t need spares and spare spares. These will also be going on eBay and gumtree over the coming days until I’m down to a single concise set of tools.

Any comments much appreciated & if you are doing something similar I would love to hear from you. My last post got so many views so I’m glad you guys are finding my posts & enjoying them.

Now, some pics of the empty room.

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

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Still downsizing

Our downsizing challenge is still going on. But things are much harder than we first thought.

Firstly it seems like many people are doing something similar. It’s so hard to sell anything on eBay now and their fees are beyond ridiculous nowadays. People are just less willing to spend. We have sold quite a few things such as the Nintendo wii and other electronics, not to mention furniture, but they have sold for much less than expected. We do feel a lot lighter already so every cloud I guess.

Another major problem we are having is with City Centre landlords. It seems that they are less and less helpful. Many of the apartments we have wanted to view have gone whilst we are waiting for the letting agents to get back to us with an appointment. The problem is that letting agents have to liaise with tenants to gain access. While waiting for access we are seeing the apartment we are waiting to view being removed from the market. Boggles the mind as someone must have gained access to see it or more scarily accepted the lease without ever stepping foot in the property.

It also seems that due to the recession and squeeze on incomes people are snapping up the cheaper property. These maybe fellow downsizers or those simply unable to afford city centre property. The prices have gone up around 200% in Manchester since we lived there around 5 years ago. We used to rent a lovely 2 bedroom house with gardens and driveway 20 minutes walk from the city centre. It was very cheap. It’s no longer very cheap.

We are also having major delays with the sale of the car. The car was on a private plate. We changed this back to its original plate with the DVLA but we haven’t yet received the updated V5 document, so we are unable to legally transfer ownership. This means we cannot list the car for sale. Ideally I would have liked to have sold it by now but the DVLA are taking things really slowly.

We have a huge dilemma now. Our lease states that we must give one months notice to vacate the property and that notice must be issued the day before the rent is due. This is on the 14th. So if we don’t find anywhere by the 13th of this month we are delayed by another month. This is an ongoing problem as letting agents seem to be very flakey at the moment. They just won’t commit to letting us view property, never mind sign a lease. Nightmare.

So we are now delayed. We need to sell the car and find an apartment. Both are beyond our control and both are being held up.

This also means that I can’t sell key pieces of furniture such as our sofas as we don’t know how much longer we will need them for. Not ideal.

I’ll try to get some pictures up of all the things we have got rid of. It’s a lot. Probably a transit van worth of stuff sold, donated and skipped. Feels very liberating.

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