How sexy is your thermostat? Is it the boring, beige rectangle of plastic with the way too complicated controls that no one wants to mess with? Well, a group of former Apple employees, lead by the guy who created the iPod and iPhone, have recently introduced version two of their programmable, learning thermostat.
It’s cool. Imagine a sleek polished steel cylinder capped with a glass lens, over a circular, 24-bit color display. With its five sensors for humidity, ambient light, near and far proximity sensors (it knows when you’re home and when you’re not) and, of course, a temperature sensor, it programs itself over a weeks’ time learning your preferences for daytime, nighttime or anytime temperature preferences. Furthermore, it talks to your iPhone, iPad, computer, Android so you can control your environment from anywhere in the world. In addition, NEST listens to the weather service via the Internet so that it can calculate how many minutes it needs to warm-up or cool-down your home to the proper temperature before you return home.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, we consume 48% of our residential energy in heating and cooling our homes. So it makes sense to avoid heating or cooling a home when it is unnecessary, such as when everyone is out of the house, either at work, school or running errands. The times when the home is unoccupied can be a major chunk of the day and usually follows a predictable and regular schedule.
But while programmable thermostats have been around for years, an estimated 95% of households have not programmed their thermostats correctly or at all, leaving our HVAC systems to heat or cool an unoccupied home, wasting energy and money. According to the people at NEST, using this learning thermostat can save you 20% on your energy bill. Now that’s cool.
Although NEST is our first choice because of its effectiveness and ease of use, it is not the only learning thermostat around. There are others, which integrate into your rooftop photovoltaic (solar panel) system, sound system, security system and are almost as cool looking. But that’s a topic for another blog entry.