Making a significant push into retail stores over the past month, the company that manufactures the Nest learning thermostat has made the sleek device available at Apple stores and Lowe’s Home Improvement as well as Amazon for online shoppers. While the Nest thermostat was already available on the Nest.com site, this retail push places the high-tech thermostats in front of a vastly larger number of shoppers. The company is marketing the device as an improved way to save money on heating and cooling since a typical thermostat is responsible for half the energy bill in the average American home.
At $249.99, the cost of the Nest learning thermostat is definitely much higher than the average programmable thermostat, but the company claims users will end up saving money in the long run due to automatic features and superior data. It’s especially helpful that users can control the thermostat from a remote location with software on an iPhone, iPad or Macbook; ideal for anyone that neglected to reprogram the thermostat before leaving on an extended trip.
During late May 2012, the company launched the Nest Energy Report in order to provide users with tips regarding saving more money on their energy bill each month. Using the data collected by the user’s Nest thermostat, the report includes how many hours of heating and cooling was used during a month as well as the specific days when the homeowner used less energy than the national average. The report also mentions how many times the Nest device transitioned into auto-away mode as well as the number of times that Nest was shut off completely during vacations or periods of mild weather.
Added during April 2012, Nest rolled out version 2.0 of the thermostat software which included support for a new feature called Airwave that may decrease air-conditioning costs up to 30 percent. When a standard air conditioner is turned off by a normal thermostat, both the compressor and fan are turned off at the same time.
However, the compressor coils will continue producing cool air up to ten minutes after the air conditioner is turned off. Using Airwave, the thermostat tells the compressor to turn off when the home is reaching the target temperature, but allows the fan to keep spinning. Since the compressor uses vastly more energy than the fan, cooling costs should easily drop as the compressor shuts down sooner.
Packaged within the same update, the company included more robust energy history data on the thermostat as well as the iOS application. The expanded data allows the homeowner to browse through the last ten days of energy information and view how many hours heating or cooling was consumed each day.
On the iOS application, the homeowner can tap a particular day in order to see a more detailed view of temperature changes as well as periods of dormancy. With this data, a homeowner can immediately see how much energy and money could be saved by simply shifting the temperature up or down by a couple degrees. The iOS app also uses icons to indicate energy efficiency as well as the cause of a shift in energy consumption like a user action, a weather change or the auto-away mode.