Not since my first iPod have I been so excited about getting my hands on one of these beauties. The brainchild of two former Apple employees (and the design and packaging gives that away quickly), the Nest Learning Thermostat takes the heating and cooling of your house to a whole different level.
What’s fascinating about this thermostat is that unlike the programmable thermostats we’ve been used to up until now, the Learning Thermostat literally does what it says – it learns the way you heat and cool your house. Once installed, it immediately takes note of when you turn the heat up or down. Over the course of a week it learns what temperature you like in the morning, in the evening and after you have gone to bed and creates a schedule accordingly. The Auto-Away function allows the thermostat, through a motion sensor, to sense if there is no-one in the house, turning the heat off while the house is empty but returning to the regular heating schedule once it knows you are home. Auto-Away also allows you to set a minimum and maximum range, so if the temperature fluctuates dramatically, your house will never get too hot or cold while the feature is conserving energy.
With this second generation Nest comes a new feature called Airwave that can lower your air-conditioning costs. Seemingly most AC units can continue to generate cold air for 5-10 minutes after the compressor has stopped running. That cold air just goes to waste because with most thermostats your selected temperature has been reached and system has shut down. Nest learns how much of this cool air the compressor generates, and times the shutting down of the system minutes before the temperature is met so as not to lose the cool air. Over time this could add up to some significant savings.
Though Nest offers a concierge installation service, it was extremely easy to install. If you can change a plug you can install one of these yourself. The packaging even includes a nifty interchangeable screw driver to help with the process, which is a nice touch. Once you have the dial installed on your wall, it’s time to set the thermostat up. The system walks you through the process, step by step, and takes less than five minutes.
One of these steps is to connect your Nest to your home wifi network allowing you to control the system via an iPhone or iPad app or through your desktop. When I first read about this I thought it was a bit gimmicky but I have to say I now use it a lot. Aside from being able to control the temperature remotely from anywhere and to change the daily schedule, one of the coolest parts of the app is to check your energy usage. You can see exactly how much many minutes the furnace was on each day, and various icons indicate the reason why your energy use has gone up or down from your overall average. Tap on the minutes used and it will show you a timeline of the energy use that day.
At a retail price of $250, this high-tech thermostat isn’t cheap. However, aside from just looking super cool, its aim is to conserve energy and save you money. Prior to purchase I had worked out it should pay for itself within two years. My first gas bill since using Nest, for March of this year, was almost exactly one third less than the previous year for the same month, though it should be noted the average temperature through the month was 54° compared with the previous year’s 47°. I’ll post an update in the next few months to see how much energy it really has conserved. In the meantime, I strongly suggest you consider investing in one of these.
Do you have a Nest Learning Thermostat? If you do, let me know what you think of it.