From the mastermind that brought us the iPod comes the Nest, a new intuitive thermostat that automatically adjusts your home’s heating and cooling based on your schedule and lifestyle — all while saving big on energy bills.
Invented by former iPod chief Tony Fadell, the Nest Learning Thermostat from Nest Labs goes on sale in November, and it has created quite a stir in the tech world since it was announced earlier this week. Many say it will revolutionize the way we think about indoor heating and cooling and can even cut down on energy costs by 20 to 30 percent. But before you pre-order the device, here are five things you should know:
1. It's smart.
There are a variety of smart thermostats already on the market that feature remote-control capabilities and even Web access. But often these features go unused as many users don’t set programs and familiarize themselves with their device’s capabilities. In fact, Energy Star revoked its certification of all smart thermostats in 2009 when it became apparent that people weren’t using their features properly. What sets the Nest thermostat apart from others is that it’s the first of its kind that learns from your behaviors, preferences and surroundings to create a custom heating and cooling schedule. [Read: 10 Profound Innovations Ahead]
2. It could save you money.
“We didn’t think thermostats mattered, either,” a video on the Nest.com states. “Until we learned they control about 50 percent of our energy bill.”
It’s true. Most people don’t think too much about the unassuming beige box on the wall controlling their home’s thermostat. Sure, you try not to set it too high or low when around the house, but the amount is always a surprise when the energy bill comes each month.
Energy from thermostats can cost as much as the refrigerator, lighting, TVs, computers, and stereos combined, according to Nest, and about 10 percent of all U.S. energy is controlled by thermostats — the equivalent of 1.7 billion barrels of oil a year. By automatically regulating and adjusting the temperature, the Nest thermometer is primed to stay in tune with your lifestyle and help you stay within budget.
3. Setup is simple.
Nest is billing the setup process for its thermostat as seamless, and says it’s as easy to install as a light fixture. It also bypasses complicated thermostat programming with the help of sensors, algorithms, machine learning, and cloud computing, so it bases itself on the temperatures you set and then learns your schedule. This process takes about a week, according to Nest.
The Learning Thermostat then refines the schedule over time and starts to automatically adjust your home’s heating and cooling systems. When it’s connected to Wi-Fi in a house, it can even read weather forecasts to base indoor conditions based on the outside world, so it can crank up the air conditioner during a heat wave or make it warmer during a snowstorm.
Nest also guides you to use more energy-efficient temperature settings, displaying an image of a leaf as a reward when these settings are selected. Meanwhile, the auto-away feature senses when you’re not home and makes the adjustment in temperature. The device can even be controlled with a laptop, smartphone ,or tablet with an app, allowing on-the-go users to change the temperature, adjust a schedule, and frequently check energy usage.
4. It’s beautiful.
“Technology should be about more than newest, loudest, prettiest,” Nest said on its site. “It should make a difference.” Still, the Nest Learning Thermostat is indeed a beauty. The brushed stainless steel dial frames the thermostat display, while the ring’s curved, neutral-silver finish allows it to better blend in with its environment. Rotating the outer ring adjusts the temperature, and the display turns blue when cooling and red when heating.
5. It’s expensive
$249 is a lot to pay for a device you never thought you needed, but Nest says it will quickly pay for itself, bringing savings of 20 to 30 percent on the average $1,000 energy bill for the American home.