Let’s forget for a second the “fun factor” that smart devices bring to your home — the live streams of your dog, the spying on your front door. Let’s forget about fostering a relationship with your Google Home assistant. Let’s forget all that and focus on one of life’s most important things: money. The Nest Learning Thermostat ($249), potentially the most valuable smart device, can save you money. Lots of money.
Nest claims that in independent studies, its thermostat has saved US customers between 10–12 percent on their heating bills, and roughly 15 percent on their cooling bills. That’s an average of $145 a year. Which means it can pay for itself in under two years.
The Nest Learning Thermostat, now in its third generation, controls your home’s heating and air conditioning. It allows you to adjust the temperature from your smartphone, tablet or laptop. As the name implies, the thermostat “learns” from you and your family, and after a few days, it remembers what temperatures you prefer. It then programs itself and creates a schedule of temperature shifts. Like sleeping in 68 degrees? Or waking up to 73 degrees? Nest remembers.
Display: 24-bit color LCD
Diameter: 2.08 inches
Colors: stainless steel, copper, black, white
Sensors: temperature, humidity, near-field activity, far-field activity, ambient light
But that’s just where it starts. The Nest Learning Thermostat learns how long your home takes to heat up and cool down, whether it’s drafty or nicely insulated. It also senses when there’s nobody in the house, and automatically turns down to save you energy. (Note: You can program it to never shut off, if you have a dog or need paintings to stay at as certain temperature, a la Thomas Crown.)
You can also manually adjust the temperature on the thermostat with its rotating ring. If you adjust the temperature and a green leaf appears on the LCD display, you’re being energy efficient. Also, if you own a Google Home unit, you can simply say “OK Google” and adjust the temperature verbally.
Along with changing the temperature from anywhere, the Nest app lets you monitor your “Energy History” and your home’s humidity. The latest Nest Thermostat comes with a feature called Farsight, where the thermostat’s display will light up after it detects motion and display the time, temperature or current weather outside.
The savings alone are why you should consider this smart thermostat. As for the other features, the ones that help you and your family be better connected with your home — those just sweeten the deal.
Nest claims the Nest Learning Thermostat “works with 95 percent of 24V heating and cooling systems, including gas, electric, forced air, heat pump, radiant, oil, hot water, solar and geothermal.” Check beforehand to make sure your system is compatible.