Nest

I replaced a perfectly good programmable thermostat with one ridiculously more expensive. But was it worth it?

“It cost how much?”

That’s not exactly an uncommon phrase in my house. Only this time, my wife wasn’t asking about some phone or tablet I brought home — and promptly placed next to all the other phones and tablets I’d previously brought home. This time it was a futuristic-looking thermostat.

On Jan. 13, Google announced that it bought Nest Labs for $3.2 billion. What’s good for Google is good for Android Central, I imagine. But not having quite that much cash on hand, we settled for buying one single, solitary Nest thermostat for the not-so-low price of $249.

Part of the selling point of Nest is that it learns your heating and cooling habits and adjusts itself accordingly to save you money. That’s a long-term play, and the idea is that Nest’s high price is recouped in a year or two.

So we can’t speak to any long-term savings just yet. But for those who are thinking about getting into the connected-home game with a Nest, we can offer up a couple weeks’ worth of experience and advice.

Installing Nest

Nest

Every home is different, but installing Nest was, for me, almost enjoyable.

Getting a Nest onto your wall and working with your central heating and air (which, this Southerner has to remember, is not a given in every house in the U.S.) turned out to almost be an enjoyable experience. I’ve swapped out thermostats before, and stiff electrical wires and tiny screws and be a pretty major pain. The Nest handled all this with ease.

But let’s back up. Chances are your current thermostat has some sort of rectangular footprint, much larger than the round Nest. You might have to do some painting, or some sort of minor wall surgery. I got away with having to having to patch one screw hole (the Nest covers a second), and a little touch-up work. The Nest base has a built-in level (nice touch) and needed just a couple screws. I used some wall anchors for good measure.

NestIf things get weird, Nest includes a couple options. One is a plate for mounting directly to an electrical box. The other is a larger, rectangular plastic back that can cover any major cosmetic issues on the wall. It’s not pretty, though, and you never really see it in any of Nest’s promo materials.

As far as the wiring goes, I did a little homework before jumping in to all this. Nest has a nice compatibility checker, and you can email them a picture of your current system to get a better look. (I did so, just to try it, and got a response back in about a day.)

And now is the time when we mention if you’re not comfortable with this sort of electrical work, get help from a licensed electrician. And Nest is more than willing to help you find someone.

Reworking the wiring — I’d image this will be the most daunting part for some — was a snap, but I had it all labeled from the last swap I did. Nest uses those spring-loaded clips to hold the wires in place — press in to release, let go to clamp down, which is an order of magnitude better than those tiny screw locks. My setup didn’t have any issues keeping the unit charged — Nest has an internal battery to sips off the connected power. But, again, read the instructions. Maybe more than once.

All in all? It took about 20 minutes to swap out my (perfectly good) old thermostat for a brand-new Nest after work one evening. Your mileage may vary, of course.

So how’s the Nest look?

Nest

Now that our Nest is up, we’ve reached issue No. 1: The Nest might be too nice for your wall. (It's also a fingerprint magnet — not something I've had to worry about with pervious thermostats.)

There's a decent chance that Nest actually will be too nice for your wall.

Nest’s promo pictures are gorgeous. They’re perfectly lit, with a perfect surface on which to display the thermostat. My basic wallboard in a stylish semi-gloss brown, a few dings and the scars of thermostats past? It’s pretty dark in that corner of my living room. Not exactly a showroom. (And it's a nightmare to take pictures of.)

Still, Nest makes it look better.

The design really is beautiful, especially when you put it next to, well, just about any other thermostat — even other high-end, Wifi-connected models. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a team led by the designer of the original iPod. The color LCD display (320x320, if you were wondering) beats the pants off the monochrome display you’re used to.

Nest looks and feels like a $249 Thermostat should.

Using the Nest

Setting up the nest felt a little weird. You’ve got to connect it to your home Wifi — using the equivalent of a click-wheel for inputting a complex password is not fun — and then left it update its software. That can take a few minutes, so sit back and relax. After that, you’re led through the setup questions. They include things like:

  • What’s your ZIP code? (Nest looks up the weather, so it has an idea of what it’s like outside versus what it should be like inside.)
  • Set date and time and zip code.
  • What kind of home are you in?
  • What room is your Nest in?
  • Do you have more than one Nest? (They can talk to each other.)
  • What kind of AC/heating unit do you have? (If you don’t know, ask.)
  • What are the upper and lower temperatures you want to allow the home to reach?

You know, stuff like that. This definitely is a smart thermostat.

Perhaps the biggest change for us has been the Nest’s thermometer, which seems to be a degree or so lower than our old one. (Which also matched the indoor/outdoor weather unit that is next to it.) So we feel a little weird turning up the thermostat a couple degrees higher than we’re used to, and at times the house has felt a tad warm — but it’s also been a pretty cold winter, so that could explain the difference.

Otherwise, we’ve largely left the Nest to its own devices, to learn our habits. And in that respect, it’s working great. It knows when nobody’s home, and lets the temperature drift accordingly — no having to program it, or remember to turn the program on. It recognizes when someone’s home — like when my eldest daughter gets home from school — even if they don’t have a connected smartphone. That’s good stuff.

Controlling your Nest when you’re not home

Nest

As easy as it’s been not touching the Nest and just letting it do it’s thing, it’s just about as easy to mess with it every damned minute of the day. You’ve got a few options.

First is with Nest’s web interface. There you see a representation of your Nest. Want to turn up the heat before you leave the office for home? Go for it. Did auto-away somehow not turn itself on? You can take care of that here. Every setting on the Nest is available in the web interface.

Nest Android app

And the same goes for Nest’s smartphone apps, too. There are official Android and iOS apps for Nest, and an unofficial app for Windows Phone. There’s complete feature parity between the web interface and the apps. What you can do on one, you can do on the other. And the apps are as well-designed and easy to use as the Nest itself.

You were surprised?

The bottom line — is Nest worth the money?

Nest and Honeywell

Look, Nest is an expensive toy. There most certainly are cheaper options. I played with a few in stores. But none of them is Nest.

I’m reminded a bit of defunct Nexus Q — a very well-designed device that was lacking in function. It looked and felt like the $300 product it was, but it didn’t act like it. Nest doesn’t have that problem. It looks, feels and behaves like a premium product. A little flashy? Yeah. You kind of feel like you’re showing off. But maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world.

Can you heat and cool your home with a lesser thermostat? Sure. But face it — Nest is cool.

While I’m waiting on the first few power bills to see if I’m saving any money, I did find some short-term validation. We’ve got an annual maintenance plan on our unit at home, which we just had replaced last fall. Our usual technician came by to do his thing, and I asked him to make sure I’d set things up properly. (Remember that it only me 20 minutes to do so.) He found one wire that didn’t get seated properly — it was for the emergency heat setting, which we never use anyway. I’ll take that.

We haven’t touched on the privacy issue. Google bought Nest for $3.2 billion. There are any number of reasons it did so — hardware, engineering or, everyone’s favorite theory, the data of what’s going on inside a home. I’m not going to tell you whether you should worry about that — you’ll have to make up your own mind. But Nest CEO Tony Fadell has said that any changes to the privacy policy would be transparent, and opt-in, meaning that nothing should change without you changing it.

Actions certainly speak louder than words, though. We’re in the early days of the connected home still. But this much is clear, after even just two short weeks with Nest — this is a product done right. And if you can cough up the dough, well worth the price.

 

Reader comments

Two weeks with a Nest Thermostat

101 Comments

Is it worth it? You betcha! I installed my first nest in March 2013 and over the next 4 months my bills dropped by about $75 per month even though we were rolling through a very hot summer in the South. Since it had quickly paid for itself, I installed a second Nest on my second floor and it has paid dividends as well. Based upon my recommendation, I've had 5 friends who have installed them and all have had similar results with energy savings. I'll also put in a plug for customer support. I had a base fail on one of my thermostats. I called Nest, spent 20 min on the phone, went through some troubleshooting and determined the base was defective and they FedEx'd me a new one. Great company!

I said I was saving $75 per month without context. My cooling bills went from averageing around $350 to $275 last summer. My heating bills (electric heat) this winter have been around $25 lower than last year, yet we have had rate increases and significantly colder weather. So it's been a win all around.

I'm curious to know what kind of thermostat you had before you replaced it with the Nest. Was it an old analog, digital, or a programmable one? If it was programmable, did you have it programmed, or just manually set the temp?

I had Honeywell basic programmables that in the summer kept my house 74 during the day and 68 at night, winter 66 during the day and 68 at night. I have the Nest programmed to do the same, but I think that it's ability to learn the heating and cooling characteristics of my system, and also cycle just the air handler without running the heat pump contributes to it's efficiency. I also think the Away function automatically manipulatng to higher temps in the summer and lower in winter when no one is around also decreases run times saving energy. I don't know how much would be saved in a house where someone is always home, but it works for my house and each of my friends who have installed. I would also caveat that all of the folks that I know who use it have houses less that 10 years old. I don't know if it matters, but it's worth mentioning.

How does the second nest work? does it have to wired to the unit too, or does it just talk with the main Nest and relay information?

The second Nest is wired to my Heat pum/Air Handler Unit for my second floor. It rides on the same wifi network, but operates independently. Both Nests are on the same Nest account and are accessible from within the app on my phone or computer at the same time.

I was very interested in buying one, but considering I work from home, it'd be mostly impossible for a learning thermostat to make any sense of a schedule. Love the idea though, and I'm sure it'd pay for itself in short order for most people.

We have the same issue (nanny home all day with kid), but added benefits of the nest include it npbeing able to more accurately control temps based on the heating and cooling characteristics of your home, and to anticipate and adjust to your schedule over time. If the auto-away feature were the on,y smart feature, it wouldn't be nearly as efficient.

As Corey said, it's able to do *much* more than just Auto-Away.

In addition to a thermostat, it also has a humidity sensor. After a couple of weeks, it will start to learn exactly how your system works, and that's when the cool stuff really starts. Most thermostats just run the AC full power until it hits the specified temp, and then shuts the system off. But, in reality, the coils stay cold (or hot) for several minutes after the compressor is shut off, which means you've wasted that energy. Nest knows the humidity of your home so, once it has "learned" you system, it's able to shut down the compressor (or heater) a little before it reaches the target temperature and just run the fan to get the rest of the way there. That can be a big deal for people who live in places with big temperature shifts (like Houston) since running the fan by itself uses *far* less power than the compressor or heater. Of course, your mileage may vary, depending on your home, where you live and what kind of system you have.

I installed mine back in November, and I love it. I live in a fairly small apartment that has *horrible* insulation, but I'm still seeing an improvement of about $25/month ($150->$125) on my electric bill.

I had an older Honeywell digital thermostat and replaced it with a nest. I've had my nest for 6 months now and it's saving about 15 dollars a month on electricity (mainly summer months) and it's saved enough natural gas that my budget plan has lowered. It's hard to tell an exact amount as I'm paying the same every month, but the budget plan went down 5 dollars.

Now, only if I could pull the trigger on those nest protects...

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My Honeywell is white :) It's a THM-8000 and runs my humidifier also. The wifi settings would be cool on Nest. My stat isn't wifi, but Honeywell has one just like mine for $149.00 at home depot that is wifi.

I had the nest hooked up for two days my wife and I agreed it was to apparent on the wall even if you weren't looking at it you see it. Plus when the light wasn't on it looks like a hockey puck.

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Maybe once the Google purchase is complete, Nest can steal the wi-fi setup process from the Chromecast. I have a long encryption key, but it was still very easy to set up the Chromecast with the app.

I too saved money after a year with my 2 Next thermostats. Yes I could have saved money by micromanaging my previous smart thermostat. But in reality my wife hated the previous ones and would complain that she could never get them to adjust. The Nest did a great job learning my families schedule. I also like the feature that continues to run fan for 5-10 minutes after the condenser stops. Those of you in Heavy AC use areas will see savings from that alone.

So I paid a lot for a thermostat. To me it was worth it for the ease of use.

Good to hear on the AC savings. That'll be a big thing. 

And totally agree on programming of the old ones. I love that I don't really have to do anything here.

Some energy providers will send you a Nest for free when you sign up with their service. I couldn't justify the cost for my 950 sq ft condo, but since Green Mountain Energy provides service in my area and paid for my Nest, it was an easy decision.

Cost per kWh on the free-Nest plans is a little higher, and there is a penalty if you cancel your plan before the agreed term (I think it was 2 years - it was very much like a mobile phone plan).

See: https://nest.com/energy-partners/

Same here. Reliant sent us a free one in exchange for the 2y contract and a slightly higher price per kWh. No regrets 5 months into it. The only thing that might factor for certain situations is that my wife is home almost all day with young kids. Part of the appeal to Nest and why I assume it saves people a chunk of money is that it becomes more aggressive with powering off HVAC appliances when no one is home. When the house is always occupied those times are not as frequent and the savings becomes less of a big win.

I'm in the same boat since I work from home. But the Away features are very useful for when I travel - I especially like turning it back on while in the cab on the way home from the airport.

The nest can do more for power-saving than just auto away. The "air vortex" mode (something like that) will run a calc based on humidity and actually turn off the compressor or heater before the cycle is fully complete, and just run the fan to get the last little bit. That can save you a ton, if you live in an area with extreme temperatures that cause the system to be on a lot, since the fan uses a tiny amount of power compared to your typical compressor/heater setup.

"Some energy providers will send you a Nest for free when you sign up with their service."

"Cost per kWh on the free-Nest plans is a little higher, and there is a penalty if you cancel your plan before the agreed term"

So what you're saying is it's actually not free.

He also qualified his statement by saying that it's very much like a mobile phone plan. I think we all know exactly what he is saying.

True, but the difference for me was about 1 cent ($0.01) per kWh, and I've still seen lower bills since I installed the Nest. In that context, yes, it was free. Of course, YMMV.

It's not free if you're paying more per kWh. Even if you have a net decrease in heating/cooling costs per month, you're still paying for it. You could have purchased it outright and potentially saved more over the course of a year or 2.

There are a couple issues with the Nest that I wish they'd work out.

1) They actually had this working but regressed in a summer update - it used to know when you got home and would awaken from "Away" and cool your home by the time you got home. The update made it so Auto-away had a higher priority than your schedule. So even if I wanted it to be 72 by the time I got home at 6, it stayed Auto-away until I walked in the door, then desperately tried to cool it starting from 76. I had to disable auto-away in the summer, which is unfortunate.

2) It seems to take forever to learn. At night it was dropping it too cold, so for about 2 1/2 weeks straight I raised it up a degree at night but it never learned it. I had to eventually manually set a schedule, which was annoying but at least not too cumbersome.

3) The phone app interface hides things that you need. To get to the schedule I think you need to tap the temperature, then rotate the device, THEN hit the menu icon. Hitting menu before that gives you different options. Really confusing and hard to learn for something you probably will only check once a month.

1) I had a similar issue myself, until I realized that the schedule is for how I want the temperature to change while I'm home. I rely solely on auto-away for work, and while my apartment does take a bit to warm up when I get home, I don't have to worry about things being weird when I deviate from my schedule, like today.

2) My second Nest (gave the first gen one to my mom as a gift) took a long time to learn, though it was over the holidays when I was away from home for a couple weeks, and in a different apartment as compared to my first gen. Once I got through that though, it has been great.

3) The phone app recently updated with a much improved interface that no longer forces you to rotate your phone to access certain parts of the interface. The schedule only works in landscape orientation, but you can get to it in portrait mode by tapping on your thermostat, then tapping on the menu button. It will rotate to landscape mode for you once you get there. The interface could still stand to see a few iterations on some of the finer points, but it's a whole lot better than the state it started in.

In reply to #1, I can see it both ways. They need to make a setting for the user whether they prefer auto away to override the schedule or not. The thing I don't like about auto away is that it has limits. For example, you can't set it to cool to 73 when away, or heat to 68. I would like to set away temps to 63 and 73 because I have a dog at home with a lot of fur, and I don't want it getting to 78 during the summer when I am at work, but he is fine with the cold during the winter. So I have to turn auto away off in the summer.

#2 Have you rechecked to make sure Auto Schedule is on? It is on by default when you set up the Nest, and stays on for several weeks to learn, but after it has learned it turns off the auto scheduler (at least mine has).

#3 I agree it is not a perfect interface, but it does make logical sense how it is set up. When you open the app you are at the Home screen which shows you all of your Nest devices together. The menu will present settings for your home location and electric company etc. The first tap on the temperature you refer to is selecting the Nest device you want to adjust, there may be several to choose from depending how many you have. Now the menu will present you settings for that specific device.

Auto schedule is on.. who knows, maybe I was just impatient after a couple weeks. It seems to have picked up other times though as you run with them for a few.

As far as Auto-Away goes, I think it's fine in the winter. My heater can get it from 65 to 69 in probably 30-40 minutes, but in the summer it seemed like it took hours to get down 4 degrees, so I just set a schedule for that.

About cooling or heating automatically, the Nest *can* do that. Hit the dial, select the little colored circle showing "heat" or "cool" and select the option that has both the blue and red circles. It will then show a high and low temp. You can configure auto-away values both of these temps and Nest will turn on the compressor or heater automatically to keep the temperature within that range, even in auto away.

I live in Houston, where the weather often swings 30 degrees during the day. The fact that I *never* have to change my thermostat from "heat" to "cool", or come home to a 90 degree apartment (because it was 62 when I left that morning and the thermostat was still on "heat") is one of my favorite things about the Nest.

I had the nest, didn't like it. Temperature is too high or too low. I went and picked the latest Honeywell.

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Sorry that it didn't work for you. But from all the review, out of dozens I only see 1 or 2 that it didn't work for them. Can't wait to try it out myself.

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My mother-in-law works at the power company that services my residence and confirmed that last year's bills in comparison to this year's bills have gone down 42% on average month over month. I too am in the South and my cooling bills are what usually stick it to me but last summer was not too bad. I think my highest bill was $150 and I have 2 a/c units running typically. And I do have 2 Nests.

I just bought a Nest thermostat at the end of December, and so far so good. Haven't been able to see the savings yet as my wife is home on maternity leave but will once she goes back to work. I had a programmable thermostat as well but my wife is a Nurse with an ever changing schedule so I always had to manually change the temp w/the auto away feature this should do away with that.

Note: My gas company (New Jersey Natural Gas)had a deal in which I received $100 off the Nest, so I paid $150 which isn't that bad when compared to other thermostats. There are other utility companies that offer deals so check it out before you write it off.

It can see/sense you. If your unit is in say a front dining room that you never use and the walls would block its vision to you, you're going to have to turn off auto-away.

Apparently if you have additional units or their new smoke detector it would enhance the detection of you, but you'll probably just have to do your own schedule and turn off away.

Since as I mentioned in an earlier comment they broke away and schedules anyway, it's not that big a deal.

I know it's adding more money to the situation, but if you get one of their new Nest Protect units (the wired unit, not the battery powered one) it also has a motion sensor and will notify the thermostat that you're home when it sees you moving.

I will give my perspective. I thought about the nest about 2yrs ago, and instead went with the Filtrete 3M-50 (which is a rebranded Radio Thermostat). Yes it doesn't look like a nest but Im not in it for looks. I want control and functionality. All of these in my eyes have the same concept of doing a multischedule, in home, out home concept to some extent.

The Filtrete has an open API/SDK so you don't have to use their app. You can write your own if you wish or write your own server app if you want to control it more, it also provides full data logging which helps for larger setups (like this temple I manage where we have over 15 wifi thermostats). Helps me know if one unit is struggling or not.

My main problem with Nest and others is this ridiculous claim of saving insane amounts of money. Yes it may be true for some, but its not always the norm. Take my house, I have 4 units. I cannot do big set back temps like say keep it at 70F in the day (we work out of the house) then kick it back to say 63-64F at night (like how the NEST does it). Same when you leave the house and come back (it puts it in an away mode). For me huge set backs cause it to run way more just to get back upto temp then it does just maintaining the temp at a steady state and doing minor set backs. So Im not knocking it, just saying don't buy it simply on the pure concept you going to save 33% of your bill, you may not. Its all dependent on your house and its insulated properties and duct work. Mine is a pretty tight house (very little air leakage) as its been entirely spray foamed in the attic.

Dixit

Agree on the savings. It might happen, who knows. We put one into a new house so I have no idea what it would be without the Nest. For us the feature was the internet access and look of the device. Coupled with hopeful ease of use. Honeywell's devices are downright embarrassments and I can see why some houses have the thermostats tucked away so no one would ever see them.

Not for me at all. I'll "control" the temperature of my house the old fashion way. I dont need google "adjusting" anything. Just my humbled 2 cents.

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Phil if you use the backplate you shouldn't need to fix the hole/paint.

I’ve been using the newest Nest since Dec 2012 and it hasn’t saved me any money. It’s very convenient however it does lack a lot of options basic thermostats have (hold temp for example). They could also add widget, notifications, more data and some more features. I love it but it could be more.

Yeah, I thought about that, and gave my wife the option. She didn't like the plate. (And neither did I.) I'll clean that up some one weekend.

Nice review Phil. I'm intrigued by Nest, but can't get past the sticker shock. I work from home, so not expecting any big savings and can't justify replacing a perfectly good programmable thermostat.

One comment - that line "but it’s also been a pretty cold winter" caught my attention. You live in fricking Florida! It's -15 outside my door right now. I'm betting what you call cold, I'd call T shirt and shorts weather!

No kidding...Man up, Phil...It's 3.8 degrees here. I noticed he only had a wire going to W2, and not one to W1...No furnace? A friend of mine lives in Miami and has no heat whatsoever.

Have had mine since X-Mas, love it. I build custom homes for a living in the Boston area, have seen and installed just about every thermostat made. This is a great product, it's not over priced when you consider a very generic Honeywell thermostat costs about $200.00. It does what it's suppose to do and looks great doing it.

you be crazy! Just did a Home Depot search and a basic Honeywell programmable can be had for as low as $26. you can get a wifi Honeywell for $100. None of those or the Nest will work at my main house as we have baseboards.

Nest is intriguing to me. I simply cannot get myself to spend the money on it though. I think if my wife was not home with our kids I would but she is always home so the temperature is always the same. The rare occasions someone isn't home we have programmed ourselves to just lower the temp manually. The one instance I wish I had a "connected" thermostat is when we are all out for a day or more. It would be nice to turn the thermostat up(or down in summer) 15 minutes before getting home though that would cost us more money than waiting until we get home.

The other reason I am hesitant is because I have a boiler for heat and forced air for cooling and I am too lazy to look into how I would combine two systems like that into one thermostat. Right now I have two separate thermostats.

I loved it, BUT, it wouldn't properly turn the fan off; EVER. I know many people had this issue and some seemed to get replacements that worked while others could not even with such replacement. I'm going to give up and go to the Honey.. version I guess. 8-( Wish it would have worked. Google. FIX the fan issue PLEASE.

just my two cents. Got bored waiting on NEST to launch here in the UK so went for the German counterpart - TADO

Had it for around 3 weeks and well impressed. Has none of the bling factor of NEST but from a technical viewpoint - does its job well and with little fuss. No need to connect it using wi-fi either, the tado box just plugs direct into the router with the solar powered thermostat on the wall

the IOS and Android apps work very well and can feel it saving me money already. Hope it turns out to be more than a feeling! Worth checking out if in the UK

Thanks for this.. Tado looks good. Unobtrusive white box too rather than the bling bling of the nest.

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Interesting. I'd not heard of the unit you mentioned so I'll do some research. I am looking at the Hive right now as it controls both heating and hot water (I have a combined condensing storage system) but the cost makes me baulk. I did have a wireless thermostat system but it stopped working and after research online it was a common problem; annoying when it was expensive.

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The fingerprint magnet aspect can be minimized by not pressing the screen. I grip the outside of the metal dial to turn it and also to press it in. I never actually touch the glass.

I'm an a/c installer in Florida and my customers have loved the Nest. We've had such a great response that we now include the Nest on all our high end systems.

I've been using the Nest at my house for over a year now, I got version 1 in the summer of 2012, and one thing it did was stabilize our energy bill while keeping the house at a more comfortable temp.

I'm just curious how my clients will react to the Google ownership, I know some were really big Apple fans.

Most of the Apple fans I know still use a lot of Google services (Gmail, Google Docs, etc.). I suspect many Apple fans won't care, it's a good product. If they ever seem hesitant because of Apple/Google, just point out that it was designed by the guy who designed the original iPod.

I considered the Nest. But I wanted even more features and control and data. I went with a Carrier Infinity WiFi Touch and if you think the Nest is expensive, you will faint at the cost of this thing: $800 to $900 installed. It is proprietary and only works with some top model Carrier systems. I love it. It works and saves every and has way more features. Top of the line stuff.

How big is your house, and how well does the Carrier handle multiple zones? My cousin just bought a place with six or seven heating zones, and I know he wants something in the vein of the Nest, but he balked at having to buy a $250 unit for each zone in the house. $800-900 is a lot easier to swallow than $1500-1750.

The problem I've seen with Nest is that how it works with radiant heaters is very vague. I've got 5 thermostats in the house, and if anyone one of them is in the on position the hot water is circulating. We rarely need to actually blow the fans over the radiators. I would love to need a nest, I just don't think I do.

I usually jump in this type of thing but I can't see replacing my three perfectly fine programmable thermostats with nests. All this stuff like radiant barrier, more insulation is not proven to save much money if any. At least not in Dallas.

Sent from my bada$$ Nexus 5

Get an Ecobee SI Thermostat - if you dont need the learning function of when you are away (or if you have a dog at home), the ecobee is cheaper (150), does the same thing as the nest, can handle many more home setups (specialty geothermal setups) and has the zigbee interface so I can connect it to smart plugs.

Ecobee fills the space of your old thermostat much better and displays the outside temp along side the indoor temp for a quick "what it like outside" reading.

Ecobee is for android guys, while nest is for apple people that dont understand or want all the control over their multi-stage heating/ac system.

I've heard of people having issues with the Nest over time because it uses too much power and can actually damage the HVAC system costing lots of money. Does anyone else know about this? Is it an issue that's been resolved?

Wow... so my whole other reply just go deleted or something when I tried to update. Nice. Anyway...

I had originally replied saying that I had never heard anything about this and couldn't find anything from a Google search. Like most (maybe all?) programmable thermostats, the Nest has an internal battery that powers things like the LCD screen, and it then recharges while the heating or cooling system is running. Some systems have a "C" wire, which provides constant voltage so that the thermostat can charge itself whenever it wants, even when the HVAC system is off.

I did find a reference to something *similar* to this. The problem described here is not that the thermostat is drawing too much power, but the way it tries to get more power when the system hasn't been running for a while seems to concern at least one person.

http : // www .marco. org /2011/ 12 /17/ nest- incompatibility-without-c-wire

Whether or not this would be an issue for you would depending on a number of things. And, if you had a newer system with the "C" wire, then this doesn't apply to you at all. Either way, like I said before, if you have concerns I'd recommend consulting an HVAC guy.

Personally, I've not had any problems with mine in the 2 1/2 months that I've had it (and I don't have a "C" wire), but obviously not every HVAC system is the same.

Hey Phil. I live in Jacksonville FL and have been thinking about a Nest. I've heard some people having issues with the 2nd Gen.. Yours is good right? Also in the picture was that your old thermostat because that is my exact one right now lol. :)

I purchased version 1 of the Nest and could not get it to work. The battery in the unit is charged from your AC unit. My particular HVAC does not provide enough power back to the controller to keep the battery charged. So it would work for a few days and then die. I couldn't figure it out until I talked with the tech guys at Nest and found the problem. I really liked the unit when it was working but unfortunately it wouldn't work with my HVAC. I asked Nest if they could add the possibility of a replaceable battery in the unit and they have no plans to do so.

One thing that I look for in a company post purchase is their customer service and the guys at Nest are all top notch.

Phil:

Funny thing is that I replaced the Nest with the unit you have pictured in your hand.

I'm a big Nest fan myself. I live in a two bedroom, pre-1900s construction building that is very drafty. My last place was a 2006 rehab of an old Heinz factory turned into apartments. At my old place, I plugged in my nest and immediately noticed big savings over my admittedly poorly used programmable thermostat that it replaced. At the time my roommate was on a very irregular schedule, and the Nest's auto-away helped us make the best of the erratic comings and goings in our building.

I loved my Nest so much that I signed up for a plan with Green Mountain Energy to get a second gen Nest for my new place. I gave the first generation model to my mom as a gift, and it is already at work saving her money too.

There are some rough edges still. The app could use a few more iterations of refinement on its UI. It could get a little bit smarter, for example, detecting the presence of my phone on the network to inform whether or not I am home. I expect this will all improve over time. For now, Nest is an improvement on the system it replaced, and it is an improvement that has saved me money. I'm glad I gave it a shot.

This was pretty interesting, it sounds like you covered everything & the pictures were cool to see. Thanks for sharing your experience. Let us know how much you saved after a while!

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Had a 1st gen Nest for over a year now. Love it but I don't like how it is locked down like an Apple product. Now that Google owes them I hope they open this up to allow interfacing with home automation more. My home has an "away" mode and the Nest has it own "away" mode. It would be nice to have one button to set both.

I also like the monthly energy usage reports from Nest. Tells you how much energy you used and how you compare to other users around the country. The Android app is great as well. Nice to be able to monitor the temperature when you travel as well as setting it to away mode if you forgot to do so before you left the house.

Love my nest. I got mine the day the V2 went on sale. It's saved us about a third off our bill. The summers here in Arizona are brutal, but our nest handled it well. I particularly like the fan feature that keeps the fan running a bit after the AC kicks off.

So far this winter the heat has been very stable and auto away is working perfectly.

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My plan is to pick up a Nest when I'm finished renovating the house I'll be moving in to later this year. I don't think I can justify spending the money on a Nest in the current house, but rolling it into the cost of a renovation makes it seem a lot less expensive.

I love my Nest. But I don't think it is saving me money compared to my previous thermostat (which I believe is the identical model to what you show in your photo above.) I had the schedule pretty well tuned.
My only problem with Nest is that it is located in an out-of-the-way place in my house so it is very inaccurate with knowing when I'm away. I really want an inexpensive sensor I can put in another part of the house. Or an option to use the mobile app as a home/away sensor. I also had to connect a "common power" lead to my AC unit to keep the battery from dying. Luckily the extra wire was already there and I didn't have to run it.

I bought my nest over a year ago, I just had a regular thermostat before. I love the way It learns your schedule and sets itself to away when you are not home. I love the reports you get monthly showing how much energy you saved over previous months.

It looks like something that should be on the wall even though I rarely ever access it from the thermostat directly I usually use the phone or tablet app.
It is nice if you have been away and you can set the temperature on the road heading home.

The setup was simple.. I had installed a few thermostat in my time but this was hands down the easiest to install.

I live in Panama City Beach just down the road from you Phil and I can say it has saved me on my utility bill in the summer. I have changed my AC unit out around the time I replaced the thermostat but combined I save an average of $75-100 a month in the summer time.

Well worth the money IMO

Those who think its not worth the money have not tried it or are just broke asses. Mine has paid for itself since I have had it.

Please put a mark on your calendar for Jan. 2015 to follow up on a year with Nest. :)

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So you get to test Nest in an ice storm. I did a screen grab earlier from an FDoT traffic camera in Escambia County, with ice hanging off of it.

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I liked the review. I've been on the fence about it, mostly leaning towards the side of Yes. I think this is what confirmed it for me.

Thanks.

What's wrong with just setting a comfortable temperature on a standard one? You gotta pay what you gotta pay to be as minimally warm as possible. There's no way around it.

I've definately been interested in the Nest but I am in 1920s home in New England and I have forced hotwater baseboards (natural gas) with 3 zones and no Central A/C. So Nest would only essentially run during the colder months of the year. It would take me a long time to recoup the investment.

If we purchase another home with forced hot air and central A/C, I would definately consider it.

Perhaps NEST should consider releasing a less expensive version without the fancy screen and that perhaps only controls heat boilers/furnaces. Then it would make more sense for homeowners without central AC.

Good review....Ive been considering picking one of these up. For those that own one, how does the unit know when someone is home or when someone is not? through some proximity sensor? also, how does it differentiate between nighttime and everyone is asleep vs during the day when know one is home?

Great review! I've been considering buying one for at least a year, but determined to do so when Spring starts (in case I mess up and don't have heat for a bit...LOL).

I've been running my 1st generation Nest since early 2012. After 9 years we had never set even the simple daily programing on our old builder special thermostat. Nest has done what it said it would do, learning our schedule. And it looks a darn sight better than the old beige box it replaced.

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Right now I have radiator heat in a condo building that I don't control the thermostat for, but Nest is on my radar for a condo upgrade or house purchase down the road.

I do have a couple questions/concerns about this review, however.

"It knows when nobody’s home, and lets the temperature drift accordingly — no having to program it, or remember to turn the program on. It recognizes when someone’s home — like when my eldest daughter gets home from school — even if they don’t have a connected smartphone. That’s good stuff."

How exactly does it know that no one is home? How did it know that your daughter got home (with no connected smartphone)? That's a little creepy, actually.

Also, in regards to saving expenses for heating/cooling, are there remote temperature sensors someplace? Sometimes (my parents tri-level house is NOTORIOUS for this) the main area by the thermostat is whatever temp the thing is set for, but upstairs or downstairs is totally the WRONG temperature. Does Next handle zone heating and how granular does its configuration get?

>> How exactly does it know that no one is home?

I had to disable that part. I think it uses the motion detector, and in my case it kept deciding I wasn't home when I was just upstairs. Of course, if I bought a Nest smoke detector for upstairs, they could talk to each other and know whether I'd really left the building...