Start with the thermostat

The idea of purchasing a “smart home” is alluring for most techies, if affordable. But what about those of us who can’t/won’t move in to a “smart home” and want to retrofit our current residences? It’s a daunting task, but advancements in smart home tech have made it easier and easier.

If you’re looking to start giving your house a brain from scratch, consider a wifi-connected thermostat. If you have central heating, running your A/C unit just 6 hours a day can cost you $1,000 a year – but technology can help cut that cost. The Nest Learning thermostat is a universal heat pump/air conditioner controller that you can control in-person or on your iPhone or Android cell phone.

Learning mode

Each Nest thermostat is capable of motion detection, enabling the thermostat to learn when you are home or away. With this, users no longer have to program a 7-day schedule for heating and cooling. Nest takes about a week to figure out your routine; you can tweak the schedule manually on the Nest mobile app – or bypass learning mode and program your week by hand from the comfort of your couch.

A screenshot from the settings of the Nest iOS app.

Use the GPS in your phone

Once you’ve logged into the Nest app on your phone, you can enable the use of your location to determine when you’re home or not. Nest will set itself to “Away” mode when your GPS leaves the home area. When you return, Nest with automatically return to your “Home” temperature preference and start cooling/heating. The battery impact on your device is minimal, and the benefit is increasing the accuracy of Nest’s schedule – ultimately saving you money on your utility bill.

There are a few situations where this feature doesn’t improve scheduling, and may cause some headaches…or sweating. When multiple people are living in the house, but only 1 has the app installed, Nest will struggle to acknowledge the other roommates presence as accurately as yours. For example, you leave the house at 9am but someone is still at home in bed. The A/C cuts off because your GPS left, and Nest is unaware of sleeping beauty.

You can add others to your “Home” in the Nest app, but they will have as much access to Nest thermostats and cameras as you do. A great usage for this is to allow a spouse, child, parent to control the home thermostat from their iPhone or iPad, or both! In most cases, this feature is handy and effective.

Every wall looks better with a Nest

If the advanced technology and software that comes with the Nest hasn’t convinced you it’s a solid choice – maybe it’s aesthetic will. The creators of Nest were former Apple and Google employees. The resulting product is a beautiful, sci-fi, Hal-9000 eyeball that looks gorgeous on every wall. Nest originally offered 1 color option for the outer bezel ‘ring’ (Chrome), but has begun releasing additional colors, including Copper, Black and White.

Rebates and savings await

$249 is a high price-point when compared to other smart thermostats on the market, but the Nest is the only learning thermostat paired with such a powerful mobile app. Depending on your city and energy provider, you may be eligible for a rebate for as much as $100 per Nest you install. Check your rebate potential on the Nest site.

Available on Amazon for $249

Other Nest products to complete your smart home:


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