New tech is exciting, until we start to take it for granted. The light bulb, automobile, space shuttle and mobile phone all seemed like amazing advancements until they became, well, ho-hum.
I imagine when the thermostat was invented it was a feat of wonder. No longer did you have to turn your heat on and off to achieve the optimal temperature. Programmable thermostats, where you can set your temperature according to your schedule, must have been front page news for weeks on end.
Okay, maybe not weeks. Or even days. But seemingly minor advances in technology can have a big impact on our daily lives. The thermostat controls the use of 46% of the energy in your home‡ so improvements can have a big impact on energy consumption.
The people who looked at your music and invented the iPod also looked at your thermostat and invented the Nest.
The Nest thermostat uses smart technology to learn your habits and regulate the temperature accordingly, saving money and energy. You don’t have to program the thermostat, though you can if you want to. Just set the temperature and Nest will learn your schedule and adjust the heating and cooling based on the way you live.
The Nest is $250, available in the US and Canada from the Nest website and other retailers. While $250 may seem like a lot to spend on a thermostat, the promised savings may make this device pay for itself over time.
This video from Nest explains how it works:
The Nest is designed to help you save energy. Whether your motivation is saving the planet, saving money or both, the Nest can help you achieve your goal. According to Nest, only 10% of programmable thermostats are actually programmed, but the Nest solves that problem by learning your behavior and making the necessary temperature adjustments.
You can set the Nest to its Green Leaf setting to minimize energy costs – a green leaf displays when you adjust the temperature to an energy-saving level. The Nest has other unique features to maximize energy savings:
- Auto-Away detects when you’ve been away from home for over two hours and adjusts its setting accordingly.
- Air-Wave turns off the air conditioning but keeps the fan running when the air has reached the desired temperature. According to Nest, this feature can save up to 30% in energy costs.
- Time to Temperature shows you how long it will take your home to reach your desired temperature after you set it.
Do these innovations really help you save energy? You can be the judge. You can see your energy history on the device or from the Nest website to see how much energy you’ve used. You can compare energy usage over time to see which settings save you money.
The Nest combines form with function. Nest has a design that’s a combination of cutting edge and retro.
The Nest illuminates – blue if it’s cooling, orange if it’s heating, or black if it’s in the Away mode. You can set the Nest to remain dark until you walk past it. If the Nest is in your bedroom, it won’t keep you awake with either light or noise. The Nest works stealthily to keep you comfortable.
Even if you’ve never installed a thermostat before, the Nest makes it easy. Everything you need comes in the package, including a proper screwdriver and a built-in level (brilliant). The step-by-step written instructions are clear, but if you need extra help watch this YouTube video for more guidance.
When we installed the Nest at our house, the installation took a total of fifteen minutes. No one in our home is a frequent visitor at the hardware store, nor known for being particularly handy. But within a quarter of an hour we were marveling at our new toy/tech/thermostat.
If you aren’t comfortable with installing the Nest yourself, you can buy the Nest Concierge service, a/k/a professional installation, for $119 for the first installation and $25 for each additional device.
There’s an App for That!
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that there is a Nest app. Using the app you can set the temperature from anywhere you are connected to the Internet. You can change the temperature of your home when you are at the office or from the comfort of your sofa.
If you leave on vacation and want to lower the temperature of the heat in your home, a quick visit to the Nest app will take care of that, saving you energy and money while you’re gone. Too cold in the middle of the night? Reach for your phone and adjust the temperature without getting out of your warm bed.
The app shows the current temperature of your home town which can be very useful if you’re away on vacation and want to know instantly what the temperature is back home.
The free Nest app is available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch in the iTunes App Store and for Android phones at Google Play. The Nest app is not yet compatible with Android tablets or Windows or BlackBerry phones.
The Nest will learn your schedule, but if you want to be more hands-on with your temperature, you can program the settings manually. Programming the thermostat is as easy as installing it, if not easier. You can set a schedule, lock a range of temperatures (so no one cranks the heat above 77°F/25°C, for example), and set an “Away” schedule. You can even lock the settings with a PIN if you want to prevent others from making changes.
The Nest connects to your Wi-Fi network so you can program the Nest from three places:
- the Nest thermostat itself
- the Nest website
- the Nest app
Programming from the Nest
You can program the Nest from the device by pressing on it. Intuitive instructions guide you through the programming process. You spin the cover and press it to make your selections. This method is simple and fun, though probably not the most efficient way to program your preferences. Think of scrolling through your songs using your original iPod versus finding them in your iTunes Library. Spinning is only fun for so long. Since the Nest is a quick learner, you may not have to make the journey from fun to annoying as you spin the dial to enter your settings.
Programming from the Website
Using the website can be the most efficient way of programming the Nest. You create a Nest account and then manage your settings on the website.
Programming from the Nest App
Programming from the Nest app is possible but challenging. The smaller screen requires precision and patience for exact settings. The app is best suited for making a minimal change, such as adjusting your temperature or engaging the “Away” setting.
The Nest lets you save money and energy conveniently.
Have you been looking for ways to cut your energy bills? Do you have a programmable thermostat that you actually program? Does the idea of controlling your thermostat over the Internet appeal to you? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below!