About 8 months ago I went to Amazon.com to rent a streaming movie and saw an ad for the The Nest Learning Thermostat, saying it was one of the hottest selling items on Amazon. I was a bit skeptical because I figured a thermostat is a thermostat right, and asked myself, "why is this thing so popular?"
Well it turns out that the magic is in the merging of technologies. The Nest combines
- A Thermostat
- A motion sensor
- Data from the internet
- Great interface (like the interface on an iPod)
The real magic is in the motion sensor. The biggest problem with optimizing a thermostat is you have to sit down and program the schedule you want it to follow. The Nest takes care of that for you. About a week after I installed it, I was walking down my hallway and the Nest lit up and stated it had, "learned my schedule" and would optimize my cooling. I was a bit taken aback but it makes perfect sense. The best part is that the default behavior is after it goes into "away" mode it doesn't turn back on until it senses motion again.
The Nest also does something else very subtly, it motivates you slowly turn up your target temperature to earn a "green leaf". I live in Florida and used to run my thermostat at a steady 77 degrees. Now with the Nest, I've bumped that up to 80 and supplemented with fans and surprisingly haven't noticed much of a difference in temperature. What I have noticed is a drastic change in my power bill.
Disclaimer: I work during the day and have no one at home that would set off the motion sensor to turn the air back on. If you do have someone at home all day or you're one of the awesome people who actually program their thermostat, then most likely you won't see savings as large as mine. Also I live in south Florida were air conditioning is king and we only run the heat one or two times a year :)