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Out of the Nest

Innovative thermostat brings efficiency and savings to home heating

When it comes to home energy efficiency, most homeowners might be surprised to learn that the thermostat controls half of their home’s energy. The founders of Nest, a smart thermostat that programs itself, developed their product to help reduce that energy usage. And with savings that sometimes reach up to 50% when compared to a manually programmed unit, the automated Nest thermostat lives up to its expectations.

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The Nest uses motion and light sensors to figure out when you’re home and active, and it adjusts the house’s temperature schedule for maximum energy efficiency. Unlike the majority of smart thermostats—which often never get programmed, perhaps due to their complicated nature—the Nest is simplicity at its best. Its intuitive design is easily understood, and it features a self-programming mode. Just activate the Auto-Schedule, and after a period of time the Nest will create a schedule to fit your day-to-day activity, and adjust that schedule as you come and go.

The Nest also offers another advantage over other smart thermostats: it hooks into your Wi-Fi and provides data and control via a smartphone. The Nest app will display the adjustable heating schedule, provide details and feedback on energy usage and, most remarkably, allow a homeowner to program and control the thermostat while away from home.

It’s perfect for professionals who travel often. That’s exactly why architect Jon Stoumen, of Palo Alto, California, uses a Nest thermostat. Stoumen’s career takes him to places as far away as Taiwan—yet he can still access his Nest’s long-distance control via his smartphone.

“The Nest enables us to—from wherever we are—track the temperature of the house,” Stoumen says. “On my way back from China, I turned the heat on. That’s a really great feature.”

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Prior to the Nest, when Stoumen went on similar business trips, he couldn’t adjust the house’s temperature ahead of time (or during inclement weather) without contacting someone else.

“We didn’t have the ability, at that point, to remotely do anything. If we were at the house, we could turn the heat on. Previously, if my neighbor was home, I would email him to turn the heat on.”

Stoumen says he’s used the Nest for two or three winters, and that the savings were immediately evident. He also appreciates the thermostat’s feedback feature, another key energy-saving advantage of the Nest. “The Nest gives you feedback on how you’re doing in terms of your energy usage. Every month you get a report that tells you that your heat was on for X number of hours, and how much energy you’re saving compared to other months.”

Perhaps the best news, at least for the DIY homeowner, is that the Nest is a consumer-friendly product rather than one marketed strictly to contractors. It can be installed with just a few tools in less than 30 minutes.

Nest can be found at Best Buy, Lowe’s and online at www.nest.com.

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