Energy Savings for Your Home: The Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest ThermostatIs  Google is mak­ing a play to get into your home and stay there? Homeowners, you may have noticed … Google’s con­sumer foot­print has got­ten a bit wider  lately.

A few weeks ago, Google acquired Nest Learn­ing, a Palo Alto-based man­u­fac­turer of auto­mated ther­mostats and smoke detec­tors for $3.2 bil­lion.  And at that price, Google may be bet­ting on home automa­tion being the next big thing. If home automa­tion grows by leaps and bounds a door will be opened to Google to expand its Nest prod­uct line, nest­ing in our homes, if you will, in a much dif­fer­ent way than we are cur­rently accus­tomed to.

Whether its scour­ing the net for a Groupon dis­count, look­ing up our favorite sports team’s recent score, or shop­ping for shoes, clothing, or a vaca­tion rental, the prod­ucts and ser­vices avail­able to us via a Google search seem endless.

And per­haps we are all abet­ting this online shop­ping trend by becom­ing a soci­ety of overzeal­ous users, who seem­ingly need access to goods and ser­vices 24–7. But don’t mis­un­der­stand me, I’m not against it. Mind­ful inter­net use can be a good thing.

Does Google Want Its Nest in Your Nest?

I’ve installed a few Nest Learn­ing Ther­mostats over the past year, and it wouldn’t sur­prise me if the Nest helps to reshape the ther­mo­stat mar­ket, much in the way the iPhone trans­formed the cell phone indus­try.  But a note of con­sumer cau­tion here: I’m not imply­ing that a Nest ther­mo­stat as some­thing you should run out and buy right away.

Still, it is an appeal­ing device with some nice ben­e­fits, and it may be some­thing to take a look at if you appre­ci­ate what home automa­tion has to offer. The Nest Ther­mo­stat, how­ever, doesn’t come cheap. But at $250 for one device I believe it’s a good value. Here are a few of Nest’s benefits:

  • The design is sleek and attrac­tive. The round, slightly domed shape is nice to look at. Plus, when it’s heat­ing up it glows orange and blue when it’s cool­ing down.
  • It can be pro­grammed online. You can down­load your energy use, get updates, and make changes to your set­tings by merely going to
  • It’s a smart device and learns. There are sev­eral auto­mated ther­mostats out there. But the Nest is the only one that can “learn,” and pro­gram itself. After one week, Nest will have learned how to man­age your com­fort zone: It cre­ates a pro­gram based on your heat­ing and cool­ing preferences.
  • Energy Savings. The man­u­fac­turer claims the Nest ther­mo­stat will recoup its cost within two years. After, it can help reduce energy con­sump­tion as much as 20%.

Nest Learn­ing is the brain­child of ex-Apple iPad design­ers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. Appar­ently the stan­dard ther­mo­stat design, which hadn’t changed in sev­eral gen­er­a­tions, wasn’t cut­ting it for these guys. And in 2011, they came up with Nest, a sharp look­ing, easy-to-use, energy-saving ther­mo­stat, which is help­ing to trans­form the industry.

The Nest has two prox­im­ity sen­sors to detect if some­one is in a room. If it detects no one is home it’ll drop in tem­per­a­ture; vice-versa if some­one is there.  If you for­get to turn it off while rush­ing out the door, for exam­ple, it responds accord­ingly by low­er­ing the temperature.

Nest brings com­pe­ti­tion and inno­va­tion to the heat­ing indus­try. Other com­pa­nies pro­duce auto­mated ther­mostats, such as Honeywell’s Pres­tige and Ecobee’s Smart Ther­mo­stat, but Nest is the only device that can “learn” on the job. Mainly, though, I appre­ci­ate Nest for what it offers home­own­ers: poten­tial cost sav­ings,  sim­plic­ity of use and per­haps a slight respite from the com­plex­i­ties of mod­ern life.

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