The Nest Learning Thermostat at Lowes is designed to keep you comfortable while helping you save energy. Programmable thermostats have been around for years. Did you know that your thermostat controls about half of your energy bill cost? That’s as much as your refrigerator, lights, TVs, and computers combined. A lot of that energy can be wasted when heating and cooling your home. Programmable thermostats are supposed to help, but they can also be hard to program. Many people never program them at all, but The Nest makes it easy.
The Nest thermostat programs itself. Tony Fadell, chief executive officer of Nest, says that there are some 250 million thermostats, of which 40 percent are programmable. And of those, only 10 percent have been programmed to save energy. Why? Programmable thermostats are designed by engineers and can be confusing to program. “They never make it easy or clever to put in a program or schedule,” said Fadell, a longtime Apple executive who helped create the iPod. “There was very little consumer orientation.”
Nest set out to create a thermostat that is programmable, but that would also program itself, based on the homeowners behavior. “It learns what you want, and predicts what you want in the future, and if you don’t like it, you simply change it,” said Fadell. “And it learns from that and it continually adapts.” In addition, the Nest designers wanted a thermostat that would be able to shift to lower energy usage when the house is empty, and it should be able to be controlled via a smartphone. The Nest would also need to be easy to install, bypassing installers and going directly to consumers to install. The Nest Learning Thermostat learns what temperatures you like, turns itself down when you’re away and can be controlled from anywhere over Wi-Fi.
[vsw id=”L8TkhHgkBsg” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ ]
How it Works: The Nest will take about 45 minutes to install. More than just opening a box, it is a medium level installation. If you’re comfortable installing a light fixture, you can install The Nest. Everything you need comes in the box. After wiring, simply connect the Nest Learning Thermostat to your home Wi-Fi to control it from a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Change the temperature, view and adjust your schedule or settings, and see exactly how much energy you’re using. Detailed Energy History is available on the Mobile and Web app for the last 10 days. Your Nest Thermostat also sends you an energy summary every month with tips to help you save more. The Nest Learning Thermostat is secure, private, and reliable. Nest supports HTTPS, SSL and 128-bit encryption. Turn it up, turn it down. The Nest thermostat remembers what temperatures keep you comfortable and creates a custom schedule for your home. The Nest thermostat is compatible with 95% of low voltage heating & cooling systems, according to Nest’s online compatibility checker. That includes gas, oil, electric, forced air, heat pump, and radiant.
Installing The Nest Thermostat
[vsw id=”H2PWdzYuiqc” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ ]
Our review of The Nest Thermostat:
The Nest makes installation as easy as possible by including all the essentials in the box. Much like someone getting use to a new computer or Smartphone for the first time, the Nest is easy to set up and simple to use. Once the Nest is installed you will then have to connect it to your WiFi network. From there on in it is pretty smooth. Other steps will be to just confirm what type of system you have and setting your default temperatures. While in the settings mode I recommend you check the Nest for a software update too. Once connected to your WiFi network the Nest can be controlled from your Computer, Smartphone, or Tablet with both iOS and Android compatibility.
I have had my Nest for only 3 months and the savings have been seen. I can honestly say that I’ve never given much thought to a thermostat. I’ve installed two or three over the years and never paid more than $60 for a basic programmable model, and the last one I installed still works perfectly. So when I was asked to install and review the Nest Learning Thermostat, I jumped at the chance. At $249, my expectations were high. The Nest may be tiny but it’s packed with features, including activity sensors, a Wi-Fi radio, three temperature sensors, and a humidity sensor.
The activity sensors are used to activate the Auto Away feature, which shuts down heating and cooling after an hour or two of inactivity to conserve energy. The Auto Schedule feature is ideal for users who don’t program their thermostat and instead simply turn the heat on or off when needed. The Nest senses your presence and displays the current room temperature along with the desired setting. The Nest learns your heating and cooling habits over the first week of use. You can smply set your heat/AC temperature at the same time each day for a week and the Nest will create a schedule based on this. Once the schedule is created you can still make changes from time to time manually.
The Nest performed as advertised. A large part of the appeal of the Nest is its learning capabilities exist so you don’t have to manually set a schedule. I let the Auto Schedule feature do its thing by teaching it my heating habits. During the week, I turned my heat up to 68 degrees around 6 A.M. every morning and turned it down at 830 A.M. after everyone had left for work and school. I then turned it back up at around 330 P.M. and left it that way until around 11 P.M., when I turned it back down for the evening. After a week of this, the Nest took over and adjusted the heat according to my schedule. I was curious as to how it would learn on weekends since activity level changes on Saturday and Sunday. The weekend required a slightly different schedule and The Nest learned without any issues.
Having the ability to control the Nest remotely is a big benefit. The app is straightforward and easy to use. For example, I checked my Nest using the web while away from the house for most the morning and found that it had gone into Auto Away mode. Knowing that I would be home within an hour I turned the thermostat up and came home to a warm house. Nest also offers free iOS and Android apps which offer versions of the web interface so you can control the thermostat from your phone or tablet.
Since weather is constantly changing, it makes comparing previous energy bills from last year a little difficult. Nest does send out an email every month showing you how many hours you used, energy use over the previous month, and various tips to maximize efficiency. The Nest website does have a section of user reviews on savings and efficiency. Many people say they have seen savings, but others are still not sure yet. Changing temperatures, rising cost of gas and oil, and even new windows could change your energy use from one month to the next. I think in the long run you will see savings, but don’t expect your energy bill to be cut in half a month after you install it.
But the Nest is not just about saving money. You also have the ability to remotely manage settings over the internet and view energy usage and potential savings; features that you don’t get with traditional thermostats. Moreover, its simple installation and learning capabilities will still appeal to users who stay away from high-tech products or simply don’t want to be bothered with trying to figure out how to program a thermostat. When you spend $249 thermostat you’re expecting to be impressed. It’ll cost you more than your typical programmable thermostat, but it’s worth every penny. A correctly programmed thermostat can save about 20% on your heating and cooling. Bottom line is The Nest offers a lot for the money.
By Victoria Stone