I was actually driving home from work today lamenting the fact that there hasn't been any products in the home energy conservation or clean energy market lately that have gotten me excited. Then I saddled up to my computer and read a Fox news article on the Nest learning thermostat.
Nest was founded by Tony Fadell. You may not know him, but you know his products considering he worked under Steve Jobs on the first 18 generations of the iPod and the first three of the iPhone.
From the Fox news article:
What's different is that Nest looks like the kind of slick gadget that you'd want to display on your coffee table. Its brushed metal fascia reflects the colors around it, and the sky blue digital display is elegant, yet high tech. It's designed to go on your wall and replace that old-fashioned, mercury-filled Honeywell model we all grew up with. But Nest has a rotating push-in dial (sound familiar?) that makes you want to touch it -- even though after it learns your habits you may never have to.
"I wanted it to be something that draws attention," Fadell told me over lunch before the launch.
Nest certainly does. But it's more than just a pretty face. It's smart, too.
It neatly solves several problems that have bedeviled home owners who have been trying to save energy -- and money -- for years but been thwarted by either awkward technology or expensive home automation systems.
This is the third time we've featured a smart thermostat on Mapawatt. The first one was Ecobee; which I still use and love. I can program it over the internet and adjust the setting on my iPhone when we go away on vacation. The biggest issue with the Ecobee was initial cost (it was donated to me by the company). When I wrote the post in September of 2009 the Ecobee was listed on the website at $469, but I'm pretty sure costs have come down since then.
The second smart thermostat we featured was the Filtrete Wi-Fi remote programmable thermostat by 3M. It has many of the same features of the Ecobee, although I'm not sure if it has all the web capabilities of the Ecobee. However, you can currently buy the Filtrete thermostat version at Home Depot for $100!
The Nest thermostat seems to have all the features of Ecobee, and then some, including:
- Sexy user interface
- Learning capabilities (adjusts to your behavior)
- Auto-Away featuring a motion sensor (I have previously only considered this for lighting)
At $249, the Nest is more expensive than the Filtrete Wi-Fi thermostat (but has way more features) and I'm guessing it's in line with Ecobee's new pricing (if Ecobee is still much more expensive, they are in for a big surprise when their sales start dropping off). I have to admit, if Ecobee and Nest were both staring me in the face and they were the same price, I'd be hard pressed not to chose the Nest (someone from Ecobee feel free to chime in on the comments).
(5/28/12 - Mapawatt Note: Ecobee costs have indeed come down since this post was published. Check out our latest Ecobee Smart SI post which actually costs lower than Nest!)
The biggest question is will homeowners chip in $249 to buy a thermostat, no matter how cool it is? I've realized that people are willing to pony up for cool gadgets that entertain them, but do cool gadgets that save money (and energy) make homeowners want to spend it?
Nest is "sold out" until 2012 - Is this a showing of strong demand, or just marketing hype?