Using Nest long term: Hands-off is a good thing

Nest Thermostat is the smartest connected home gadget I own, but it's far from perfect

"What do you think of that thing?"

We're all used to being asked about the smartphone in our hands. Someone on the train on in a coffee shop notices something unique about your tech and leans over to see what it does that made you pick one up. It was strange at first to have the question asked of a thermostat, especially since I've been trying to get my friends and family excited about connected home tech for well over a year now. Since installing the Nest Thermostat I've had this question asked nearly a dozen times, and the most curious thing about the question is often the reaction to my answer. See, I don't think about it. I notice it when I walk by it and the center screen lights, awaiting my input, but about a month ago I realized that I stopped thinking about the temperature of my house entirely, and after a little research I realized it was entirely because of the Nest Thermostat.

Read more from our Nest series:

Nest energy history

I first noticed my total lack of concern for my thermostat about a week after installation. My two previous thermostats required fairly regular poking and prodding in order for everyone to be comfortable. As one was also a connected thermostat, I'd have to remember to do things like compensate for when I was cooking something big in the kitchen so the whole first floor didn't fee like an oven. Little things that couldn't be scheduled required my to poke at the thermostat at least two times a week. Not only has Nest eliminated the need for this kind of behavior on my part, but after looking at my 10-day history of usage it's clear that the system has all the smart necessary to anticipate my needs after just a handful of changes from me. I don't even us a scheduler anymore, because Nest has figured it out.

A big question that has shown up on the comments for this series has been whether or not I can confirm efficiency and money saved. The truth is I don't have enough data yet to confirm one way or the other, but you can find plenty of folks online who have. Part of this is my doing, thanks to new heating equipment, but there's also data missing from Nest. The software doesn't archive your data anywhere that is user-accessible, so you only have access to the last 10 days of information and nothing else. I've worked around this by IFTTT grab information from Nest and feed it to Google Drive, but the information won't be displayed anywhere nearly as nice as what Nest comes up with for the ten day view.

Our own Phil Nickinson, however, has used a Nest Thermostat for about a year now. And his long-term take mostly mirrors mine:

It's been some time since I did my two-week look at Nest. A lot has happened since then — including an ice storm here in Pensacola the very next day. Then the summer flooding that dumped something like 20 inches of water on us in about 16 hours. Then the usual stifling summer heat.Throughout it all, I've mostly kept my hands off my Nest, which almost is a shame because it's so nice to use. If I need to turn the heat up, I turn it up. If I need things to be a tad cooler, I turn the thermostat down. But it's not a constant battle, and chances are I'd be just fine if I let the system do its thing.The best part, however, has truly been knowing that the system shuts down when I leave the house and it'll automatically fire up when I return. That's been well worth the initial expense, and it's been invaluable over the past 12 months.

Nest has proven itself to be something that simplifies my life, and while it's easy to roll your eyes at being saved from a trip to the thermostat, it's also important to consider how many other things in your life that now exist just to remove a step in your day. Long term, with the help of things like the Works with Nest program, many different parts of the connected home are going to just do things based on context or data from other devices in your home.

The Nest Thermostat is a hugely positive step forward in home automation, and a great starting point for anyone looking to build a connected home. It's not going to radically change your life or save you thousands of dollars, but it is going to look nice and use some clever new tech to keep your home comfortable without you needing to think about it or ask for it.

Russell Holly

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter