A few months ago, I installed the Nest thermostat in my house and have been using it since. I thought the unit was brilliant then. Nest, which was built by a start-up co-founded by iPod designer Tony Fadell, is not just the most beautiful thermostat in the world, the Nest may well be one of the most beautiful objects you install in your home—it looks like something from the future, if the future were ruled by people with impeccable taste.
Nest isn’t just all good looks either. It is the world’s first learning thermostat. An ordinary thermostat asks you to program it to turn on and off at certain times and temperatures. Most people either do not do this or do so incorrectly. Because a thermostat has primarily always been a stupid device—it has no idea when you’re home or away, and no way of determining whether the temperature you set is really something it should be aiming toward, It will only obey your commands until you remember to change it. More than likely you won’t remember, and you’ll end up wasting a lot of energy.
Nest solves this problem by using loads of different sensors and complex algorithms: It can figure out when you’re home and when you’re not and based on your input and adjustments, it builds a model of temperatures that feel comfortable to you. Nest uses all this information to create a temperature schedule that’s personalized to your lifestyle, one that keeps you comfortable while saving energy. Considering that thermostats control half of a typical home’s energy bill, Nest promises to be more than a great product—if this device takes off, it will significantly cut down on our nation’s energy use.
The recent release of the Version 2 Nest includes some major updates. This upgraded version is slimmer than the old one, and the design of its front panel has been subtly streamlined. Nest now has two more internal connection slots that make it compatible with more kinds of home heating and cooling systems; the company estimated that the first version worked with 75 percent of homes with low-voltage temperature systems, and the new version works with 95 percent of such homes.
But it’s not just that a Nest you install today won’t get outdated. The other important factor is that the proliferation of new Nests keeps improving current Nests. Now that these newfangled thermostats have been running in homes across the country for over a year, their sensors have recorded mountains of information about how people adjust temperatures. After removing identifying details from the data recorded by your Nest, the company aggregates it with information recorded by other Nests, and then it analyzes all that stuff to look for ways to improve the device’s algorithms.
Take Auto Away, Nest’s system for turning off your heating or cooling when it notices you’re gone. “We found that morning patterns are very regular—when people leave in the morning, they’re gone,” Rogers says. So now, the Nest turns off your heating or cooling much sooner in the morning than it would at any other time of the day. Rogers points out that the morning is the coldest time of the day, and electricity is also expensive then, so turning on Auto Away sooner can make a big difference—now the Nest won’t waste energy heating your home when nobody’s there.
If that weren’t enough, Nest also recognizes time to temperature and regulates the start time based on how long it will take to reach the goal. In addition is the Airwave feature. To understand Airwave, you need to understand your AC. Your air conditioner is made up of two primary consuming pieces: the compressor and the fan. The compressor uses a lot of electricity while the fan uses very little. Other thermostats keep the air conditioner running until your target temperature is reached, then turn it off. They ignore the fact that the compressor coils can generate cold air for 5-10 minutes after the compressor is off. Nest’s exclusive Airwave technology takes advantage of this fact. Airwave turns the compressor off a few minutes before reaching your target temperature. It then runs the fan alone till it reaches the temperature you want. What makes Airwave a Nest exclusive is its ability to learn exactly how much cooling can be done with the compressor not running. Only Nest automatically shuts off your compressor at the right time to maximize your savings.
Contact Quality Audio Video in Denver, CO to get started, Nest is a great gateway into the world of home automation and remote access/control.