Nest Smart Learning Thermostat…
If you associate one name with smart thermostats, it’s probably Nest. Currently in its third generation, Google’s clever thermostat is sleeker and smarter than ever, whilst still being simple and intuitive to use.
Like all smart thermostats, the Nest Learning Thermostat allows you to monitor and control your heating remotely and save money on your energy bills.
But what’s different about this bit of kit – and the clue is in its name – is that this thermostat actually learns as you use it.
Whilst you can still control it by turning the dial or using your phone, the Nest thermostat is so smart you’ll soon realise that you don’t have to bother doing either!
Your Nest thermostat learns the temperatures that you like when you’re at home and then programs itself.
As well as learning what you like, your Nest thermostat can tell when you’re not home and will automatically switch to a custom Eco Temperature.
And when you come back, it will switch back to your scheduled temperature. So, accidentally leaving the heating on when you’re out, is a thing of the past.
This all sounds great, but how does a Nest thermostat save energy? And is it all it’s cracked up to be?
In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about the Nest Learning Thermostat, so you can decide whether it’s a good choice for your home.
How does a Nest Smart Learning Thermostat help save energy?
Like other smart thermostats, the Nest thermostat allows you to schedule your heating, with the promise of saving you energy, and therefore money, on your heating bills.
Smart controls allow you to control your heating remotely via the internet using an app on your smartphone or a webpage on your computer. Unlike other heating controls, smart thermostats often have many energy saving features built into the one device.
So, let’s take a look at how the Nest thermostat can help you save energy:
Nest allows you to control your heating remotely
As with other smart thermostats, Nest allows you to control your heating from wherever you happen to be.
So, there’s no more paying to heat an empty house if you pop out and realise you’ve accidentally left your heating on – you can turn it off on your phone.
Nest allows a hands-off approach to heating
Since Nest is a learning thermostat, it learns the temperatures that you like when you’re at home and then programs itself.
This means that you’ll have a more consistent and comfortable environment and won’t be wasting money by constantly adjusting your thermostat, creating spikes of over and under heating.
A Nest thermostat also learns how quickly your home heats and cools, because heat loss is different in different buildings.
It uses this information, together with the outside weather conditions to precisely determine when to turn your boiler on to reach the temperature you want, at the time you want.
And it learns when to turn your system off to prevent overshooting the target temperature, saving energy and money.
Nest can help you save energy while you’re away
As well as learning your temperature schedule, your Nest thermostat will automatically turn down the heating when you’re away to help save energy.
Nest can show you how to save money on your energy bills
A Nest thermostat can help you to save energy by indicating (with a leaf symbol) when you’ve adjusted to an energy-efficient temperature.
You’ll get monthly reports about your energy usage and can also check your daily energy usage in the Nest app. This can help you to make money saving changes to your behaviour if you need to.
How much money could I save with a Nest thermostat?
It’s clear that a Nest thermostat can help you to save energy, but how much money could this save you?
Unfortunately, this is a tricky question to answer because it depends on a range of factors including:
- how you used your heating system before you got your smart thermostat;
- the level of insulation your house has;
- how many people live at home with you;
- What sort of boiler you have; and
- How efficiently you use your smart thermostat.
Obviously, if you buy a smart thermostat and just crank it up to full whack in the winter, you’re not going to be saving money!
But nonetheless, manufacturers of smart controls make bold claims about the savings to be made.
Tado says that its smart thermostat ‘will pay for itself within a year’ by reducing your heating bills by up to 31%.
Netatmo claims that its smart thermostat will reduce the energy you use by 37%.
Nest has more modest claims, but still reckons that the thermostat will save you between 10 and 12% on your heating bill.
For more on how smart heating saves money, check out our related blog here.
What heating systems is Nest compatible with?
Like most modern smart thermostats, Nest will work with almost all condensing and combi boilers. It’s also compatible with system and heat only boilers, as well as air source and ground source heat pumps.
What do you get in the box with a Nest thermostat?
When you buy a Nest Learning thermostat, you get two components: the smart thermostat and the Heat Link, which connects to your boiler.
The smart thermostat can be fitted to a wall, or can sit on a stand, which is sold separately.
What’s the Nest Heat Link?
The Nest Heat link looks like a glossy plastic box. It’s not as stylish as the smart thermostat, but you won’t have to look at it much. It attaches to your boiler, and has built-in Wi-Fi to connect the system to the internet via your router.
The Heat Link acts like a mediator, communicating with your boiler and then with your Nest Learning Thermostat.
Who should install my Nest thermostat?
Nest recommends that installation should be carried out by a professional.
The Heating People will be happy to recommend the best heating controls for you as part of your free quotation for a new boiler.
If you choose to go with Nest, we will install it in the right location, connect the Heat Link and set it up for you.
What are the key features of the Nest Learning Thermostat?
Let’s take a look at what features this smart little gadget offers…
Nest features design-led aesthetics
Let’s start with the superficial stuff – it’s pretty, right?!
The first thing you notice about this hockey-puck sized gadget is that it looks too cool to be a thermostat.
The Nest thermostat is made from premium brushed steel and glass, and you can choose to have it in black, white, stainless steel, or a copper finish.
The thermostat features a colour LCD screen which displays the current temperature on the outer ring, with the target temperature in the centre.
It has a feel of an iPod about it, which is perhaps unsurprising given that Nest was created by the same guy who designed the iPod!
It’s certainly not style over substance though, it’s practical too. The outside spins and the unit acts as one big button, letting you access all of the features directly from the thermostat.
The design is well thought out. Turning a wheel to adjust the temperature feels intuitive and reminiscent of an old-fashioned thermostat.
Nest can be controlled from anywhere
As we mentioned earlier, once you connect your thermostat to Wi-Fi, you can control it from anywhere. So, if you’re on your way home from a weekend away, you can adjust your temperature at home so that you arrive back to a lovely warm house.
Nest is a learning thermostat
What sets Nest apart from many other smart thermostats is that it learns your heating preferences and schedule so that you can set it and forget it!
Nest also has a learning algorithm called: ‘True Radiant’. This feature learns how quickly your home heats and cools so that you don’t get spikes of over or under heating. The result is that you should have a comfortable and consistent temperature.
Auto-schedule refers to the feature where your Nest learns the temperatures you like and automatically programs itself, so you don’t have to lift a finger.
In addition to Auto-Schedule, Nest uses motion sensors to switch to ECO (energy conservation) mode if it thinks you’ve gone out.
Nest has motion sensors and geofencing technology
As we’ve mentioned above, Nest has motion sensors which allow it to switch to Away mode when you go out, which will save you energy.
But don’t worry, Nest is smart enough not to rely on motion sensors alone – what if you’re having a long nap?!
Nest also uses geofencing technology to check your phone’s location to help determine whether you’re home or not.
And if you have lots of people living at home, you have the option to connect multiple phones to your Nest. Nifty, huh?
Nest also uses its motion sensors in Farsight mode. Farsight mode allows Nest to flash up some information on its screen when it recognises you’re 5m away from the device.
This is quite a handy little feature, because you can choose to have a clock; the current room temperature; weather forecast; or target temperature displayed.
Nest supports voice control
Nest works with many third-party devices and supports voice commands via Google Home and Amazon Alexa.
And you can also connect it to other Nest devices, such as the Nest Protect smoke/CO alarm and the Nest Cam Indoor and Outdoor security cameras.
Nest has OpenTherm technology
Nest now has OpenTherm technology. OpenTherm is a language that compatible thermostats and heating systems can use to talk to each other with two-way communication instead of simple one-way on/off commands from the thermostat.
With OpenTherm, Nest helps the boiler work out the exact amount of gas to burn to reach or maintain the temperature. This should save energy and prolong the life of your heating system.
One of the reasons we rate ATAG boilers is because they have OpenTherm technology.
Nest has a leaf feature to help you save money
Nest uses a leaf symbol when you adjust to a more energy-efficient temperature. This can help you to make small changes to your habits which will help you to save money.
Nest shows you how much you’ve saved
Nest shows you how much energy you use every day in Energy History, and every month in your Home Report. So you can see when you use more energy, such as at the weekend or Monday nights, and how to use less.
Are there any drawbacks?
Although the Nest thermostat is one of the best-known smart thermostats on the market, there are some drawbacks.
Firstly, Nest comes with a fairly high price-tag of around £220. So depending on how you currently control your heating, it may take some time to recoup the cost.
Secondly, the Nest thermostat only controls the boiler (and a hot water tank if you have one), and not individual radiators. This means that your whole house will be heated, and if you don’t use every room, this can be wasteful.
Other, more expensive, smart systems such as Honeywell Evohome allow you to install their smart TRVs on your radiators so that you can control heat at each radiator. So, if you have an empty spare room that never gets used, you can switch the heating off in there altogether.
Although Nest can support multiple zones, this is only possible if your home is already plumbed into separate zones. You can buy separate smart TRVs to get around this problem.
Nest Thermostat review: Verdict
The Nest Thermostat remains one of the best and simplest smart heating systems available.
It’s a pity there’s no option to add smart TRVs, but if you have a smaller home and want a centralised controller that you need to do very little with, then it’s hard to beat Nest!