Nest Thermostat from the iPod creator

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?

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I have 6 EcoBees installed (3 at each of 2 vacation homes). The best piece of kit I have ever purchased. They have been up and running without a single problem for more that 12 months. Very Very reliable. The long distance control over the internet is key for me as the vacation homes are 1000 miles from where I reside. My energy savings over the last 12 months have covered the cost to purchase and install the Ecobees. I cant speak highly enough of the EcoBee. The Nest does not seem as robust as the EcoBee and its a little to flash for my tastes. That said, competition in the market can only be good for the consumer. More product development and better prices should follow.
I just installed the Ecobee today and I got it for $299. There are some nice demo videos on their website here The Ecobee has some nice reporting features as well as email alerts to you and your HVAC company if desired. I know when I am going to be away so the motion detection is no big deal for me. I have heard some people ask how that feature of the NEST would work if your thermostat was in a room that wasn't used frequently or if you were out of the line of sight. It appears to a be a two hour delay before it lowers the temperature from what I gathered from the other websites. I have had programmable t-stat for many years and bought this now that the kids are all moved out and I can delay the program from my office if I am going to be working late or go out for dinner before coming home. My weekday heating setpoints are: 5AM 70F 730AM 50F 6PM 70F 10PM 60F (Includes Sunday nights) Weekends are: 7AM 70F 1130PM 60F (Friday and Saturday nights) I have it on Smart recovery so it comes on earlier to achieve the desired setpoint based on the homes heating ability and temperature.
Thanks for showing me this. I'm also looking at the Verizon Smart Thermostat and smart home monitoring products that have many additional home security add-ons. Please do a review of this one too:
Better link to Verizon Home control sales site with packages and options. I like the integration of energy monitoring and thermostat control with some add on security features.
WANT ONE! ;) (which was, of course the point - to try to make a thermostat sexy enough that it became on object of desire. Will it work for the general public? I dunno, but it's working for me... soon as I can part with $250 for something like that anyway ...)
I looked at the Verizon products the other day. They are Z Wave compatible devices. I currently have the same thermostat and similar lighting controls running through a Micasa Verde Vera 2 hub. With the Vera there is no monthly fee as there is with the Verizon system. These products are available through Amazon, E Bay, and several online retailers.
I have a thermostat that does the smart recovery thing too - it is a really nice feature, every thermostat should do that. I bet the Nest does (though I haven't looked to see for sure)... but my Radio Thermostat CT-80 doesn't, which is about the only reason I haven't put it into real use.
I am curious about what you are referencing with robustness. Can you explain?
Chris Good to speak with you today - agree fully about the Nest Thermostat Unlike personal entertainment where looks and features determine the users pleasure experience, this is something you want to install and never look at again - trusting that it will work out how to minimize your energy. I live in an apartment in California, our total energy bill is less that $30.00 per month, and we do not have air conditioning. Hence I must disqualify myself from personal experience and declare myself as a theorist on this topic. But, being seldom without opinion, I do like what the founder of EcoFactor had to say on the subject - in that it needs to be smart enough to just work, in their case using a cloud weather service to add to the device's knowledge of upcoming requirements. open4energy does have a directory of these energy saving devices: Nest joins 3 other smart thermostats in the device only category, and a long list of others where the smart thermostat is part of a HAN (Home Area Network) - including connection to the local utility to get rate and peak demand data. Much as I am all for cool gadgets, I do wonder is this $250.00 is being best spent - 100 people - lots of jobs - but please do not ask about the carbon footprint of this 100 jobs in Silicon Valley! Alex
ckmapawatt's picture
Alex, AC is a necessity in my home in the summer, but to further complicate things, we have a split level system, so I would need 2 thermostats (1 for upstairs, 1 for main floor). While they would certainly reduce my consumption, I already do a pretty good job of managing my regular ol' Honeywell programmable thermostats, so I'm not sure if I would see a payback in any reasonable time. It is going to be interesting to track. The real market is for new buildings!


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