As a Realtor, people always ask me for the best way to increase the value of their home. Sometimes, I recommend a kitchen renovation. Other times, it is landscaping that does the trick. Now, I can definitively recommend a single change to nearly all of my clients — the Nest Learning Thermostat.
Remember the no-frills “classic” turndial thermostat and the confusing “modern” digital models no one could program? Well, it’s time to toss those dumb wall warts of yesteryear. The Nest Learning Thermostat might just be the smartest, most impressive technology you can buy for your home. Created by two former Apple engineers, this gadget is so sexy, cool and easy to use that mainstay thermostat companies are shaking in their boots.
Like the iPhone or iPad, the Nest’s design is simple and elegant. You can’t walk by it without significant envy and intrigue, especially when it senses you nearby and lights up to greet you. Shaped like the rotary units we’ve know for decades, yet infused with a cutting-edge computer brain and matching screen, the Nest is re-writing thermostat history.
Even as you unbox the $249 Nest, you know the manufacturer has thought of everything. Attractive packaging leads to more clever contents. Using the included screwdriver set and the custom-developed drywall screws that anchor themselves, I removed my old piece of junk and easily installed Nest in 20 minutes. If you have any questions, their website (nest.com), online videos and live agents will quickly get you on your way.
Once active, Nest’s screen greets you in plain, simple language and walks you through setup. You control the device by turning a brushed stainless-steel wheel and entering choices by clicking the wheel inwards like a mouse button. Tell it your zip code, connect it to Wi-Fi and select the desired temperature. From then on, it learns from you, no programming required. Each time you adjust it, it remembers and creates the schedule from your habits. After about a week, you never have to touch it again because Nest has learned your custom temperature schedule. This is the ultimate thermostat for the technophobe set-it-and-forget- it crowd. Yet, Nest is so much more.
With around 50 percent of your electric bill going to air conditioning, the Nest promises to help you save a bundle. Three technologies help deliver on the promise. First, Nest checks the weather each day via the Internet and adjusts its cycles to heat/cool most efficiently. Second, sensors inside the unit know when you are home. If you go out, Nest adjusts the temperature to save you money. Third, and most amazing of all, is Airwave. The eggheads at Nest realized that turning the air conditioning compressor off early and leaving the inside blower on still cooled a home. By always finishing a cooling cycle this way, Nest claims up to a 30 percent energy savings and it’s the only thermostat in the world doing it.
The smarts don’t end there. Once connected to Wi-Fi, control of your Nest is available from the web, iOS and Android devices. No need to get out of bed to make it a little cooler, just adjust it from your smartphone. You can even change the temperature on your way home from work. The extension of the full Nest interface to other screens means you never need to touch the actual thermostat again. That’s downright geeky chic.
If you have multiple Nest units in your home, they intelligently communicate with each other and become even more sensitive to your home/away status and how to save energy.
Not only do Nest’s computer algorithms save money, the thermostat also encourages users to “play along” in an energy saving “games”. By using engaging graphics and interesting data, Nest actually trains its users to improve their habits. Want to see your energy savings in action? Nest provides a detailed history and analyses each day with statements like: “Your adjustment caused energy usage below the weekly average.” That type of digital pat on the back makes you want to do more, and Nest always makes suggestions along the way.
While the Nest Learning Thermostat is less than a year old, the company has already learned from its users. Always listening to feedback and analyzing anonymous use data, Nest delivered a free automatic update in which they tweaked the interface to be even more intuitive and added the Airwave feature. They plan on continuing to improve the product in this manner.
No matter what type of home you have, Nest adds elegance and class. This gadget also will make your home look 20 years newer inside. It also saves you a ton of cash, making it the best bang-for-the-buck home improvement out there.
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Hal Feldman is a Realtor with RE/MAX Advance Realty. He is always available for any real estate questions you may have. On Sundays, from 10 a.m.- Noon, he is outside Wagons West in the Suniland Shopping Center to talk real estate.