I’ve now had my Nest Learning Thermostat for a month. And I love it. You might scoff at paying $250 for something as simple as a thermostat, but the features, control, and beauty of it makes it a great investment. I’ve already saved on my heating costs by having it, since I rarely touched my old one other than the occasional increase in temp when I was home unexpectedly. And best of all, they’re now available for purchase without having to wait. Want to get a better understanding why I love this thermostat so much? Read on.
For my initial impression and some instructional videos, check my unboxing video back in February. Nest also just released their new 2.0 software this week. I’ll cover these features, as well as all the remote features on my next post. This post covers just my general impressions on using the Nest.
As I expected, the nest thermostat definitely helped with my heating needs. Unlike many programmable thermostats out there, the Nest’s sensors allowed for a greater control over my house’s temperature all without me having to do much programing (if any) to begin with. It’s a bit more pricy at $250, but chances are good you’ll save that in energy costs rather quickly. Plus how many thermostats have you bought that come with a 5yr warranty? Overall well worth the investment.
I decided not to video my installation for a variety of reasons. One was that Nest already had a great and straightforward video on their site (which was in my unboxing post). The other was I decided to move the location of where my thermometer was… which came with a number of strange results. I won’t bother you with the details, but short version is for the majority of people, where you old thermostat is will be fine. If you are planning to move the thermostat to a more centralized location, please make sure you know what you’re doing.
Once I had all the wires moved, the installation was simple and easy. Just place it on the wall, level it with the built-in level, and plug-in the right wires. The setup will walk you through all the settings, including your zip code, wi-fi connection, and questions as to what type of heating and cooling you have. As an added benefit, it will sense whichever wires you connected and will know what type of options it has to control. You just have to tell it what type of heating or cooling you have (oil, gas, electric, central air, ect.)
Nest also offers for those who don’t want to mess around installing it something called Nest Concierge Service. It costs $119 (plus an extra $25 for each additional Nest in the house). This will check to make sure Nest works with your system, remove and recycle your old thermostat, install the Nest, give you an into on using it, as well as set it up with your home wi-fi network. Most people won’t need to do this as install it is pretty straight forward, but it’s a nice option for those that either don’t feel comfortable.
The first week the Nest was in a learning pattern and waited for me to do things. It would pay attention when I raised or lowered the temperature, as well as keep an “eye” out (with its sensors) for when it sensed no one around. But it won’t change anything right away. It wants to learn your habits first before making changes or activating auto-away. I strongly suggest that you make use of this time to full use the nest to make things comfortable. Set it lower when you go to bed, and raise it when you wake up. This will help when it switches to Auto-Schedule.
Granted you can also be impatient if you want and manually set times for it to lower or raise the temperature. Although you can do so on the device, and it’s pretty easy… I recommended using either the mobile or web app to do so. You just select the day and time and what you’d like the temperature to be. That simple. You are able to view the entire week in one window, showing all the temperature changes you have planed in one look. Very handy.
This is in stark contrast with my old setup. Even being a techie, my old thermostat was rather difficult to change, and I found I after setting the initial settings, I ignored it. Even changing the temperature when I was home on a holiday or sick day was frustrating. By contrast the ability to easily change anything on the Nest is refreshing.
Once warmer season is here, for those that have cooling options, you’ll go through the whole process again of it learning your temperature habits. Simply switch it to cooling mode and it will instead learn how cool you’d like the house.
Auto-Schedule & Auto-Away
Once the first week is done, the Nest offers you the ability to turn on Auto-Schedule & Auto-Away. You can leave these off and use it as a simple programmable thermostat but to get full use out of the nest I strongly suggest turning these on.
Auto-Schedule is a feature that will take everything you’ve told it with the temperature from that first week, and create a custom temperature based on your what you want. It will continue to learn as well. So if all of a sudden it “sees” you home every monday, or you keep raising or lower the temperature it will adjust its guide to mimic that. By using auto-schedule, you’ll end up saving money sin it doesn’t have to wait for you to tell it you got a new job, or have softball practice every Thursday night.
Auto-Away works in a similar was and uses its motion sensor to figure out when you are and aren’t in the house. You can configure how long the auto-away feature is set to, so for thermostats in more remote areas of the house, you can set it to a much longer time. Higher trafficked areas can be set to something shorter. Once the time has passed and it hasn’t sensed anyone, it will default to whatever you’ve set as the “away” temperature. If you have pets, make sure the temperature is set to something that is good for them. Once home after a few moments the thermostat will realize you are home and resume whatever the schedule guide is set to. This feature also works with the Auto-Schedule and will after a few weeks of seeing you gone at the same times, adjust the temperature on a more perm ante basis. Being home one or two Mondays in a row won’t force a change, but do that for a few weeks and the Nest will get the idea.
I’ll cover more of this in the next post, but simply put the options for you using the Nest is quite impressive. I often set my Nest to “away” when I left the house either directly on the device or on my iPhone. Same goes if I know I’ve been gone for a while and are heading home. With a click on my phone I can tell it to warm up the house. There’s even been few mornings where I woke up and felt a bit cold, and without leaving my bed raised the temperature from my iPad I keep on my nightstand. Outstanding.
The device itself is pretty good about being accessible to. Unlike “standard” thermostats, there’s nothing really to learn if you don’t want to. Want it hotter? turn the dial clockwise. Colder? turn it counter-clockwise. Set it to whatever you want the team pure to be. Turning it way down or way up won’t heat your house faster or slower. Just set it to whatever temperature you want it to be and forget about it.
One of the great features of the Nest is that it can change. And I’m not talking about the team pure. Unlike my old system this one is connected to my home wi-fi, and as such can make use of that connection. This is seen not only in automatic software updates (unlike hardwired thermostats), but also in weather. Due to it having internet access and your zip code, it knows the weather outside. As such it knows how to adjust for warmer or cooler weather. On warmer days it knows it won’t need to work as hard to heat your house as the day itself will help. Same goes for cooler days, since it knows it can’t rely on the outside temperature to help out. And with the learning feature it understands how much the outside temperature effects your home, depending on how good your insulation is.
Wi-fi allows the Nest to communicate with the website and your mobile devices for control. This also allows for multiple units to talk to each other. You can either use them to zone your home, or have them work together. The sensors are also quite impressive. With the Nest I know my humidity in my house, temperature, even my history all with one glance. The Nest also has a built-in rechargeable battery so you won’t have to worry if your power goes out and have to reprogram it again (although it can’t turn on your furnace or air conditioner obviously without power). The motion sensor can sense things within 20 feet (which should be plenty for most homes). It also has a proximity sensor that leaves the screen blank unless you walk up to it. I was worried that there’s be this “glowing red-eye” (or blue if I had cooling) when I walked into the kitchen at night, but this sensor keeps everything off until I need to see it.
All this leads to real the biggest point of what the Nest represents – Energy saving. I’ll cover this more in detail tomorrow but I’ve already seen savings. When you adjust the temperature manually a little green leaf will appear if you have hit a temperature that will save you money. Very handy and you don’t have to think about saving money. See the leaf and you’re set.
And the Nest makes sure you know when you have saved yourself some cash. It will even let you know if your saving because of you (or the Nest) adjusting the temperature, or if you’re savings comes from the weather. By adjusting when you are away from home, and adjusting due to the temperature outside, you end up using a lot less heat (or cooling) to make sure your houses is at just the right temperature.
Nest also this week with the new software added a technology called “Airwave“. It uses a combination of learning the humidity of a house and the way houses are cooled to save up to 30%. It only actives when you have low humidity (as humidity plus cold = uncomfortable). It basically stops cooling before it reaches the lower temp, but keeps the fans of central air running so the house will continue to cool for a while. You get your temperature without having to use excess power chilling everything.
Negatives & Improvements
Not everything is “prefect” though. This list was much longer before this week’s new updates, but there are still a few things I’d like to see. I’d love some module to use for “window” AC units. Also would be neat to have some sort of smaller, cheaper device to just report the temperature back to the main unit. Don’t need all the bells and whistles for other floors if I’m not zoning. Most of my other complaints all were resolved with this most recent update.
Should I get it?
There’s a couple different types of people… but for the majority of them, the answer is yes.
- You have a thermostat but don’t use it – even if you never touch your current thermostat, and don’t plan on touching one in the future the Nest will be of help. It will learn your habits and adjust everything accordingly. You might even start adjust things as it’s so simple to change it. You might think that $250 is a bit much, but you’ll end up saving a lot since the house will match your needs, instead of being a fixed team pure all the time. Answer – get it.
- You have a programmable thermostat, but never touch it – Much like myself I set my old thermostat once and other than occasionally trying to maul set the temperature when I was home, I never changed anything. Yes it would lower the temperature at night and raise it during the day, but often it was heating when i wasn’t’ there, or keeping it cold when I was. The Nest will adjust to your habits and make the most of the setup you have. Well worth the $250. Answer – get it.
- You use a programmable thermostat and like complete control – Want complete control like you have now? The nest can do that too. However it depends on how happy you are with your current setup. You can if you’d like use it exactly like your current thermostat, just with a much more user friends control panel. you can keep auto-away and auto-schedule turned off if you like. But the best feature is the auto features. So if you’re happy with your current setup and not worried about saving cash, you might want to think twice before spending the $250. You definitely have more control over things than most programmable thermostats, but control is a personal choice. Answer – look at the control panel before deciding to replace your old setup.