In terms of gadgets that can reduce your energy use and help you save money on monthly utility bills, the Nest Learning Thermostat is one of the coolest. And it just got cooler.
Nest Labs announced the release of what is essentially version 2.0 of its wireless smart thermostat’s software, which can be accessed by an Internet-connected Web browser or by apps on mobile devices using Apple’s iOS operating system or Google’s Android operating system.
The Nest thermostat uses a person’s temperature settings to “learn” about heating and cooling habits and preferences so it can “auto-program” itself. The software upgrade enables the thermostat to present history data over 10 days, generate monthly reports, communicate when heating and cooling systems are turned on and show if setting changes were cause by the weather, a manual adjustment or an auto-away setting.
According to Nest Labs, the software upgrade will help thermostat users better understand how changes to temperature settings affect energy use. One cool feature of the upgrade, called Airwave, keeps an air conditioner fan running, instead of both the fan and the compressor, to keep cool air circulating and reduce energy use. According to Nest Labs, the feature can reduce electricity use by 30 percent for people in dry climates.
An EPA study found that while programmable thermostats can result in energy savings of 20 percent to 30 percent, the study found that only about 10 percent of people who have programmable thermostats program them. In a Nest Labs survey, however, the company found that almost all users of its learning thermostat use its automatic setback feature. The company says that’s because the thermostat only has to be used manually for a few days before beginning to program its own setback based on user preferences.
Do you use a programmable thermostat? If so, do you program it? If not, why?
“Nest's Smart Thermostat Chills Out With New A/C Feature,” CNET, April 5, 2012.