San Carlos Real Estate Agent, San Carlos Realtor The Nest: Taking the Guesswork Out of Heating Your Home. | The White Oaks Blog

The Nest: Taking the Guesswork Out of Heating Your Home.

by Chuck Gillooley

The Wave of Home Automation.

One of the benefits of seeing so many homes on a weekly basis is that I get to see some pretty cool technology that people are incorporating into their homes.    Whether it’s a newfangled appliance in the kitchen, or a $100,000 networked home automation system, it’s clear that technology is wedging its way back into our homes again.

But despite all of the promise of efficiency and simplicity that technology offers, not everyone is gung-ho about having it in their homes.   The old VCR is a good analogy – many people owned them, but very few ever figured out how to program them and therefore get the maximum use out of them.   So the challenge for purveyors of home-based technology products is to create things that are:

  • Worthwhile,
  • Powerful,
  • Easy to Use (most important)

Kinda sounds like a commercial for a Mac, doesn’t it?   In a way, yes…

The Nest.

Along those lines, I’m seeing more and more of these cool little Nest thermostats popping up in homes lately.  What makes them so special?  According to their literature, they check all three boxes above.   You see, the normal home thermostat (like the one that’s in my house) looks more like a sprinkler timer for landscaping — switches, and programs, and dials.  The makers of Nest claim that the vast majority of homeowners find their “new” thermostats are too complicated to program, so they don’t.

And if it sounds like an Apple product, that’s not by accident.  There’s lots of Apple pedigree in this company -the founder of Nest came from the iPod and iPhone teams at Apple, so many of the same design principles apply with Nest, too.

How Does it Work?

Rather than me try to explain the magic behind this product, they have a couple of good videos that do it much better:

Anyone Using It?

Is anyone currently using this product?  Are you getting the kind of results that they tout in their videos?  One of the problems that I face is that about 2/3 of my energy bill every month is electric, NOT heating.  So I don’t know how much help this will be for me.  But if you have any experience with it, please share in the comments below.

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Comments 2
  • Chuck-

    Put in a Nest a few months ago, does exactly what it claims. Within a week it had auto set heating patterns based on our usage, and automatically turns the heat down if the proximity sensor isn’t tripped periodically (24 hrs?). One newer feature is an emailed monthly energy usage report that compares your usage locally and nationally. They’ve collected all sorts of interesting data, wonder what they’re going to do with it…

    Related (and timely) question – how many houses do you see with ‘whole house fans’ for cooling? Seems like a good idea, but wondering if you have any practical experience/thoughts?

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    • Thanks for your reply. It’s good to hear that product works as advertised. Regarding whole house fans, I see those with more regularity but it’s still in just a fraction of the homes. I have one in my own house, so I can give you my perspective. Their effectiveness relies on two things — first, having a fan large enough to move a decent volume of air. So if you have a large house, you’ll need a powerful fan for it to make any noticeable difference in temperature. The second thing that you’ll need is a significant temperature gradient between the inside and outside of the house (i.e.cooler outside).. The fan is just pulling air from the outside and pumping it through the attic, so if it’s still hot outside it obviously won’t help.

      From a cost standpoint, it’s great. It doesn’t draw near as much power as an A/C unit. It also helps immensely if the house is well insulated and has dual-pane windows.

      Thanks again for your comment…

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