Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nest Thermostat

I heard about the Nest thermostat since last year and followed its development online through their blog and tech news sites. At the time, my digital thermostat was running fine, but it is always a pain to set/adjust, change the schedule, and non-intuitive - so my wife and my friends would usually ask me to adjust the temperature setting (instead of doing it themselves). So since that point on I have been on the lookout for a "better" thermostat and preferably an "internet connected" one. When I heard about pre-ordering a Nest, I did it right away and bought it when it came out last year.

Nest was not cheap ($250), especially compared to the typical programmable thermostat you find at the hardware store (~$75). Most people will say that "it's just a thermostat - why get an expensive one?" - and they are right in a way that the benefit is not that apparent right away. But after using it about a week or so, I never looked back.

So what sold me in the first place? After a year or so using it, what are my thoughts about it? This blog post will answer both questions.

Top notch website 

Have you ever been to the Nest's website? I urge you to go there - http://www.nest.com. Not only it is very well designed and easy to navigate - but it also absolutely informative. After reading some articles and watching some videos (all which are well made), it really answers all my questions and more. The videos put me at ease about doing a self installation or whether Nest will work my current furnace/AC with their compatibility checker.

Nest's website also explain how will Nest help you save energy consumption. So instead of some nebulous magic, Nest spells it out in its blog and articles.

There is also this "Living with Nest" page that pretty much explains how Nest actually work with your living habit, from the first day, the first week, first month, and eventually where Nest will stay out of your way and learn to understands your habits and adjust to them.

Killer Nest Web App

Nest also has a web app. So once you connect your Nest to your WiFi, register it and create an account, you can actually manage your Nest from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. 

This is a killer feature. I can be at the office or my friend's place and lower down the temperature at my house or even turn it off. I can pre-heat my home on my way back from vacation or cool it down, etc.

The web app also allows you to manage your Nest settings such as Auto-Away & Away Temperatures, Schedule, Learning, Lock, etc. No more fiddling directly in the thermostat once you got Nest connected to the internet. Everything can be done via the web admin tool.

The Web App also shows you the energy usage for the last 10 days. If you are saving energy, Nest will give you a "leaf" - which is also showed in the energy usage screen (a bit of gamification for energy saving).  This energy calculation is also adjusting depending on the temperature in your area as well as any adjustments you make during that day. In the detail view, it shows the time of the day when the heating/AC unit is working and the sum of hours for the whole day. This is really awesome in helping me out in saving energy - thus saving money. This feature along has helped and motivated me and my family to adjust our habit to save energy.

If you have multiple Nests in your home (to manage different units for multiple rooms etc), the web app also will identify each Nest individually, so you can control each of them independently.

I have to say that their website and web-support is superb. Probably the best I have seen and experienced. Sometimes I could not help showing it of to my friends. You can read more about their Web App here

Mobile device support

Nest also support mobile devices: iPhone, iPad, Android Phones and Tablets. Beyond the Web App, this is something that I probably use the most: adjusting temperature from my bed, or setting Away while on the road, or simply just checking the energy usage. The mobile app has most of the features that the web app has. Use the web app when sitting in front of the computer and use the mobile app when using the phone/tablet - awesome.

It took Nest a while to support Android tablet, but thankfully, the web app can be accessed quite easily using FireFox or Chrome using the desktop mode. Now, Nest released an update that works for my Galaxy Tab. Now - I am a Windows Phone use, so if you are reading this blog, Nest - can you make a Windows Phone app? You can read more about the mobile app for Nest here.

Nest Monthly Energy Report

This is an unexpected feature/support that surprises me - in a very very good way. I did not know this for in the beginning but was pleasantly surprised when I found out about it. Basically, Nest sends you an email every month summarizing your Nest usage report, compared to previous month, your "leaf" earning, etc - as well as links to new blog posts, tips, and other Nest benefits.

Unlike typical marketing emails or spams, this email from Nest is actually useful and beneficial to help you in using your Nest better and saving more energy.

Getting this email is like getting a pad in the back about your energy saving and also motivate you to maximize your Nest instead of just simply leaving it as a programmable thermostat. It gives you a picture of your energy usage pattern and helps you to make adjustments to be more efficient.

Software updates and support

I'd say that Nest has better software updates support and support in general than my Android devices. In 1 year, my Nest has had 2 software/firmware updates - both were feature packed updates (as well as fixes etc), huge improvements for the web app, and continuous updates for mobile device apps. All in all, excellent software and firmware support.

Secondly, their website is filled with articles, videos, and how-tos on about anything you can think of about Nest - from installation, troubleshooting, compatibility, and apps. This combined with responsive email & twitter support, and phone support - I certainly feel taken care of and satisfied. My hats off to them.

Oh yes, it comes with 2 years warranty too.

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