JACKSONVILLE- You walk past it every day, giving it no attention until you're too hot or too cold. Your thermostat. There are programmable ones out there but many are hard to operate. Nest Labs says it has a solution with its Wi-Fi Learning Thermostat.
I ordered a Nest last year and tested it in my house for seven weeks. I'll have the results for you but first a little background on the Nest.
The Nest was developed by former Apple executives. The thermostat looks like no other. It's a high tech orb-like device with brushed steel.
After I took off my old thermostat, I hooked up the wires to install the Nest. It's a relatively simple process that took me about 30 minutes. Plug it in and the Nest comes to life.
The first thing you do is have the Nest sniff out your homes Wi-Fi. It's very easy to use by turning the outside wheel and tapping on its glass. To raise the temperature, turn the outer ring to the right, to lower it, to the left. When the leaf appears it means you're saving the most energy. But the best feature is the Nest learns every time you adjust the temperature. After a week it sets a schedule. "We had to build this feature to learn your habits, to basically learn your inputs. It solves this core problem of helping people build a schedule to help people save energy and make them more comfortable," says Nest co-founder Matt Rogers.
You can change the schedule anytime you want at home or by an app on your iPhone or iPad. It also has an auto-away mode. Sensors in the thermostat know when you're home. When the Nest doesn't detect anyone in the house for two hours it adjusts the temperature.
Cool device. But it cost $249. So has it saved me money since I started using it since January 7th? My first monthly bill showed I used an average of 63-kilowatt hours of energy per day. But I installed the Nest halfway through the billing period. The real test would come during the next bill. I found I used about two fewer kilowatt hours per day. That's a 26 cents a day savings or an average of $7.80 a month or $93 a year. Was all that due to the Nest? That's still too early to tell.
JEA's Conservation & Efficiency Specialist Brian Pippin says the high tech thermostat will likely save you money for one reason, it programs itself. "If you spent $100 for a programmable thermostat that you did have to program and you did it incorrectly, no savings there. If you bought the Nest for $249 and it programmed itself, it may take a year and a half but at least you're getting your investment back."
Heating and cooling account for almost 46% of the electricity usage in your home with the rest going to water heating, appliances, lighting and other items like computers. If you adjust the temperature just one degree on your thermostat, it will save you 5% on your heating bill. The Nest claims to save its users 15%-30% on their bill.
At a $93 dollar a year savings, it would take about two and a half years to make back the cost of the $249 Nest. My test lasted only 7 weeks. Plus, there are variety of other factors that go into energy usage like the outside temperature and how warm or cool you like your house. The jury is still out if the Nest will feather bank accounts but one thing is certain, it sure does look cool on the hallway wall.
First Coast News