If you’re thinking about making your home smarter thanks to connected home products, Nest is a good place to start because of the large ecosystem of smart home products that talk to Nest and the ease of setup. We’ve been considering a Nest thermostat for quite some time and have only heard positive things about it whether talking to other users, reading articles that discuss the industrial design of the product, and seeing the growing ecosystem of accessories and other smarthome devices that work with Nest. Honestly, I’m not sure what took us so long to get a Nest of our own but I’m glad we did.
Setting up Nest
When our Nest arrived from Best Buy for the purposes of this review, I was a little apprehensive about installing it. I knew I would figure it out, but I wasn’t looking forward to taking something that already works (my current thermostat) and potentially screwing it up by poking holes in the wall or ending up without heat on the first cold weekend of the fall.
I play with a lot of gadgets at work and home and I have seen the entire range of installation and first-time use problems. Boy, was I wrong! Nest was up and running flawlessly in less than hour. It worked on the first try and everything went exactly as expected.
The wiring was quite easy. It came with labels to apply to the wires before removing your current thermostat.
The instructions were clear. The product connected to my Netgear® Nighthawk™ DST Router‘s WiFi on the first try.
It successfully upgraded its firmware and got on the Internet without any errors. It even tested the different modes of my system (heating/cooling/fan). Everything worked exactly as expected.
Make no mistake about Nest. It is a premium product.
From the unboxing experience, the high-quality magnetic screwdriver included in the box, the high resolution screen and materials the unit is constructed from, the product is very “Apple-like” in its design, assembly, and ease of use.
Advantages of Using Nest in Your Home
The Nest I installed is the 3rd generation Nest Thermostat. It features a larger, crisper display packaged in a thinner unit when compared to previous Nest models. We have been thinking about getting one for a long time and it was so easy to setup that realize I should have gotten one a long time ago.
We already had a programmable thermostat that was installed about 8 years ago when we did an addition on the house. The programmable thermostat had settings for weekdays and weekends, and four temperature settings per day (wake, leave, return, sleep).
After initially setting the temperature on the programmable thermostat many years ago, I haven’t really changed it. I do notice that in the early spring, it sets the air conditioning too cold. I’ve found myself manually adjusting the thermostat more and more as time goes on but I don’t bother to adjust the program because it’s a nuisance and I guess I’m lazy.
Nest automatically learns my preferences from my manual fiddling. It’s connected to the internet and it knows the outdoor temperature and humidity. It’s supposed to adjust the indoor temperature settings accordingly with changes outside of the house.
Another huge advantage of Nest is the ability to turn the heat back on BEFORE we get home from a vacation. In the winter, we’ve returned from a weekend away to find the house temperature set at 55° or 62°. It takes hours and hours for the house to recover to normal temperatures after being that low and it results in some very chilly bedtimes upon returning home.
Our previous programmable thermostat required AA batteries. After a few weeks, it would function perfectly, but display “Low Battery.” We would ignore it for the next few months until the batteries were so low that the LCD display couldn’t be read. Nest takes power from the heating system, so goodbye to battery changes. Amen.
When you walk into the room, nest senses movement and the screen turns on with a very large font to indicate the current system status. The screen is bright, high resolution, and easy to understand. Adjusting the temperature manually is quite simple, you turn the outer ring. Like a manual thermostat, a temperature dial appears, and the outer ring sets the desired temperature. It is as simple as that.
Using the Nest Mobile App
Downloading and installing Nest’s mobile app gives you remote access to your thermostat, allowing you turn down the temperature after you leave the house, or set it back to normal before you return. Like the installation of the thermostat, the app installed and connected without any errors.
Saving Money with Nest
The purchase of a Nest is an investment but if you don’t have a programmable thermostat, buying Nest should pay for itself quickly and result in a large energy savings. If you already have a non-internet connected programmable thermostats, you’re likely to save additional money with Nest due to the environmental adaptations in Nest’s algorithm.
Nest Integration with Smart Home Systems
Nest is the gold standard / de-facto standard for a connected thermostat. There are alternatives but Nest is one with the broadest installed base and greatest integration with other Smart Home systems. Nest supports “If This Then That” (IFTTT), allowing power users to get even more sophisticated with their temperature controls.
Nest thermostat contains a motion sensor for detecting if you’re in the room. The thermostat can be setup to detect that you’re “away” if motion isn’t sensed.
Depending on your home floor plan and thermostat location, the effectiveness of this will vary. In our upstairs, the thermostat is in the master bedroom, a room that is only occupied in the evening. Nest enthusiasts on the Internet have been clamoring for remote occupancy sensors for some time. Nest has yet to produce a dedicated remote motion sensor (or remote temperature sensor), giving their competitors room to chip away at Nest’s dominance. I have read that it’s possible to install a Nest Protect smoke detector and use that as a remote occupancy sensor, but I can’t personally vouch for whether or not this works. Another possibility would be to use IFTT to create a link between your home alarm system and Nest. For example: “If alarm is armed, then turn down the temperature.” Or “If alarm is disarmed, then go back to normal temperature.”
Utility Rebates for Your Nest Purchase
Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for a rebate from your utility company for installing a smart thermostat. Here in Maryland, it’s possible to get a $100 rebate for a WiFi-enabled thermostat from Washington Gas. This takes a nice chunk out of the $249 retail price. Nest has a rebates and rewards page where you can enter your zip code and see the list of available rebates in your area.
Nest 3rd generation smart thermostat is a well engineered, beautiful replacement for your existing thermostat. Stop replacing batteries, get smart about energy usage, save some money, and reduce your carbon footprint by upgrading to Nest. It is available as part of Best Buy’s Connected Home product line and can be purchased for $249 from BestBuy
I was compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free. Some images courtesy of Nest and Best Buy.