NEST Smart Thermostat

by Ben N on November 22, 2018

A few months ago, I got a NEST smart thermostat. Since then, I’ve had enough time to try out all the features and decide that YES, I DO LIKE IT!

For starters, I got it for free. A friend tipped me off that a utility rebate program we have was making them available, so I signed up. A few weeks later, I had the thermostat in the mail at no cost to me.

The only caveat is that this is the “E” version. It’s slightly more basic than the full-blown Nest Learning Thermostat. The features are nearly identical, but the E has a frosted display screen (instead of clear) and is plain white, whereas the other comes in several metallic color trims. You can find the Nest Learning Thermostat at a number of retailers, including Amazon.

Installation was extremely easy. Basically, just remove the old thermostat, connect the furnace wires to the same connections on the new thermostat, screw it the base to the wall, and snap the thermostat in place. After that, the color display screen walked me through all the steps of setting it up, which only took a few minutes. I had to enter what type of heating and cooling equipment I had and my wi-fi name and password. After a quick check of turning on and off the furnace, AC, and fan, it was all set.

To start with, I love the interface of the thermostat. The entire thing is one big round color display to show and adjust the temperature as well as change settings or set the schedule. Rotating the outer ring adjusts the temperature (or selects settings) and pressing right in the middle is the equivalent of hitting ENTER.

One of the key features of the thermostat is that it LEARNS. You don’t have to program a schedule into it all all (although you can if you really want. The Nest automatically creates an energy-efficient heating and cooling schedule for you. One way it does that is with a motion sensor. It detects when you walk past and logs that information as activity. By tracking that motion activity over time, it knows if you are at or away from home or active or sleeping. It also logs your manual fiddling with the dial. Lastly, there’s also an app for your smart phone. You can manually set HOME or AWAY on your phone, but you can also use the location feature of the app so that it automatically tells the Nest your home/away status. This can be done on multiple phones, so the heat or AC doesn’t turn off when one person leaves, but the other doesn’t!

I was also pleasantly surprised at how easy the Nest thermostat integrated into a home automation system. A while back, I bought an Amazon Echo ( to start experimenting with home automation. I have a few lights that turn on and off automatically, and even set my electric car to automatically charge only at certain times!

Connecting Alexa to Nest was easy. I just downloaded an Alexa “Skill”, entered my username and password, and they were hooked up! Now I can turn the heat on and off, turn the temperature up or down, or directly set the temperature, all by hollering at my talking computer!

I haven’t found much need for the Nest app yet, but it lets you control pretty much anything the thermostat does, but from anywhere on the inter webs from your phone! If you use this from your couch, I will call you out on your laziness, but it seems like it does have a few great applications. For one, it would be fantastic for anyone who owns more than one building, or has a building which needs to be heated or cooled when someone isn’t there. Vacation homes, cabins, and rental properties could all benefit from being able to monitor and control the temperature remotely. Even if you are just coming home from a long trip, it’s pretty neat to be able to turn on heating and cooling so that your home is at the right temperature when you get there.

The Nest thermostat has a long list of little features that all add up to energy savings. Without going into too much detail here, it has some little tricks like turning off the air-conditioning compressor just a bit before the blower fan, to still get that last minute of cool air, but saving on electricity in the compressor. Another feature I like is the “Leaf”. When you turn down the heat a few clicks, a leaf appears to show that you are being eco-friendly. It sounds simple, but just that little bit positive reinforcement can really drive change!

The other big feature I like is Eco-Mode. In that mode, you set a high and a low temperature point. The Nest does nothing UNLESS the temperature gets outside of this range, only then does it actively heat or cool. Basically, you just allow your home the vary the temperature more. I’ve found that this was great for fall days where it might be a little cool first thing in the morning, but would warm up later in the day. Using Eco-Mode kept the furnace from turning on at all.

Since I’ve now had a chance to use the Nest, I like it and love many of the features. The auto-programming all by itself works fantastic. Probably the only downside is cost. Smart, connected devices like this aren’t cheap. The E version is about $150 and the full-blown version retails for as high as $250. The good news is that it’s not hard to find discounts. Nest even has a section of their web page where you can find utility discounts in your area.
At the time of this writing, there was a $75 rebate available in my area. Combine that with a good Black Friday price, and you might even be able to get one of these thermostats for free!

I’ve always had a bit of a Love-Hate relationship with technology. I like tech and gadgets, but it also has to be something which works, saves me money, and makes my life easier instead of more stressful! So far, the Nest has integrated perfectly with my home wi-fi and home automation and works exactly as it should!

Keep in mind that Nest isn’t the only one out there. Ecobee and a few other manufacturers also make smart thermostats, so do your research before buying to see what is right for you!

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