A Review of The NEST Thermostat
I was first introduced to the Nest as I was scrolling through my large list of RSS feeds in Google Reader in the fall of 2011. Since then my interest has grown in the product. The idea is perfect… take one of the items in your house, the thermostat and make it better. In the past the Nest was sold only through the website www.nest.com but on May 8th, 2012 the Nest became available at Lowes and more recently at the Apple stores and Amazon.com. It is always nice when a product comes to a local retail store so I can get some hands on experience and see the product in action even if it is only a demo.
Recently I discussed the Nest on The Home Tech Podcast show # 72. At that time I was in the final stages of making my decision whether I was going to purchase the Nest and replace my current thermostat. As you probably guest I did go forward with the purchase and have been using the Nest in my home for about a month now. The reason I decided to spend the money on the Nest was because of the automation, energy/cost savings and design of the product. I am interested in home automation and this is the first step I have made in that direction thus far. This device has become a very interesting conversation piece when family and friends are at our house. In the past episodes of The Home Tech Podcast I had brought on John Hughes who is the founder and developer of Code Core Technologies which is a full home automation solution. Although, I am not at that point yet I do enjoy the automation that I am getting with the Nest already.
There is not much to installing the Nest. The first thing I did was make sure that my current thermostat wiring was going to work with the Nest. You never know what has been done in the past by the installers. If you go to the Nest compatibility site you can pop off the front of your current thermostat and document the wires that you have. Then fill out the check boxes on the compatibility site to see if the Nest is going to work with your existing wiring. I got a “Your system is compatible” message which gave me a green light to the next step. Who was I going to purchase it from? Like most people when you want something now and not later I was glad that Lowes was carrying the Nest and has a few stores close to me so I did not need to wait for shipping from Nest.com. Now that I had my own personal Nest I started to plan how I was going to perform the install. I knew that I was going to need to shutdown the power to the existing thermostat and this might be intrusive to the other family members so I resisted my urge to install that night and waited till morning while all but I were still sleeping. I then proceeded to shut down the power to the thermostat and furnace. The rest was almost easier then shutting down the power. I removed the old thermostat and installed the new Nest thermostat turned on the power to the furnace and the Nest was up and running. The next couple of steps were configuring the device; put in my zip code, my min and max temperatures as well as get the Nest connected to my wireless Wi-Fi network. The Wi-Fi connection allows me to see and control the Nest via a webpage or via the Nest application on my deluge of mobile devices. The Nest also utilizes the Wi-Fi connection to measure the weather outside to optimize the performance based off the temperature and humidity.
The Nest takes about 5 days to learn the behavior of the family and after that starts building a customized schedule that fits our needs and saves power when we are away automatically. Some of the other features of the Nest that I am enjoying are Energy History, Airwave, Time to Temperature, and The Leaf. Energy History is exactly as it sounds… the Nest gives me a simple interface to view what my trailing energy history. Airwave is the Nest ability to shut down the compressor outside and continue running the furnace fan to save on energy while still cooling the house to the desired temperature. Time to Temperature is also exactly as it sounds… after the Nest learns the time that it takes to get your house from the current temperature to the desired or set temperature you will start to get a time estimate that the system is going to take to reach that desired temp. The Leaf, this is a method of coaching the user of the device to choose temperatures that help save energy.
I am very happy with the Nest so far and enjoy the simplicity yet advanced feature set. I have thought about tracking the cost savings with the Nest but I don’t think the data would be very comparable. If meteorologists can’t figure out what the weather is going to be for the day I don’t think that previous weather data is going to compare to current and future weather patterns. I will be sure to give updates on future Home Tech Podcasts as new updates and features come to the Nest.