Nest Learning Thermostat: An Energy-Saving Smart Device

I’m that picky thermostat guy, always complaining about wasting heat. The fact is, home heating systems are costly and inefficient, mostly due to human error.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, space heating accounts for 41.5% of household energy costs. Cutting that, even by a little, can save a lot of money.

Enter the Nest Learning Thermostat, a well reviewed and smart little gadget that doesn’t just let you program your temperature settings, it learns how you use your home and heats it accordingly.

Want to learn a little more about it?

Pros: Easy to install, learns your habits, works with heat and AC (with Airwave), easy to see, Alexa compatible

Cons: Heat programming is not “hands on”, Auto Away has flaws

Price: Available for around $200, not counting installation

Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Generation) Review

Nest Thermostat on white brick wall

Nest learns just like you do: by forming habits.

To start, you just turn the dial up and down to adjust the temperature. Want it a little bit warmer? Turn it up. Finding things a little too warm during the heat of the day? Adjust it down.

That’s it. All you have to do is turn it up and down and it programs itself! The Nest algorithmically learns your habits and preferences.

After a few days of manual control, this smart little thermostat will start making adjustments on its own.

What’s new with the 3rd Generation Nest?

Good question! There are four big differences between the 2nd and 3rd generation Nest thermostats.

  • The Farsight display is bigger and easier to read, with boosted backlighting, larger text, and higher resolution. Unless you’re myopic like me, you should be able to read it from across the room.
  • This version sports a slimmer, more low-profile housing
  • The third generation Nest now supports Alexa and is compatible with the Amazon Echo.
  • Connectivity is improved, with 2.4G and 5G Wifi compatibility.

Installation and Setup Review

Out of the box, the Nest Thermostat isn’t complicated. You’ll find the wall mounted unit itself, as well as screws and a screwdriver, and a trim plate kit.

Installation is a snap. It usually takes less than 30 minutes, and involves some very basic rewiring.

If you feel installation is beyond your capabilities, you can hire a Nest professional to help; alternatively, any certified electrician can get the job done.

Once installed, setup takes only about a minute.

Some people prefer to learn visually, so here’s a video for how to set up the 3rd generation Nest Thermostat.

Auto Away

The Auto Away feature is one of the best features of the Nest Learning Thermostat. Most reviews cite this as their favourite feature.

Rather than relying on scheduling, the Nest automatically detects if you’re at home or not. It uses sensors, location tagging and algorithms to determine if you’re around. If not, it will lower the heat to a minimum preset.

In practice, Auto Away reviews are mixed. I had no issues, but some people report that the heat / cold takes longer to “catch up” when set to Auto Away.

You can always set a manual “away” feature too, if you prefer.

Using the Nest App

I really like the Nest Learning Thermostat app; it has good user reviews, and I do recommend installing it and giving it a whirl. With it, you have control over the temperature even when you’re out of the house.

On your way home and want to turn up the heat? Open the app and raise the temperature with a gesture.

You can manually place Nest into Away mode, and the app will let you know how much energy you’re saving in real time.

Compatible with Amazon Echo, Alexa

If you happen to have an Echo for home automation, good news: the Nest Thermostat is fully compatible. After installing the Skill, you can just ask Alexa to alter the temperature whenever you like.

Energy Reports and History

For a frugal geek like me, the energy reports and energy history are some of Nest Thermostat’s best features. They will email you a report each month, detailing power usage and letting you know where it’s all going.

The Energy History is part of your smartphone app; it lets you know when and how the temperature was changed. In addition, it will inform you how much energy was saved, and make suggestions for ways to save even more.

Just how useful are these reports? You can cut 20% off your energy bill merely by following Nest’s basic suggestions. Word.

Seasonal Variations

What happens, though, when the weather starts turning hot? Nest never stops learning, and it will adjust to your temperature preferences on an ongoing basis.

If you have an air conditioner, you’ll love Nest’s Airwave feature. Airwave works to figure out the most efficient usage of your AC.

It starts by shutting off the compressor a little before you reach the target temperature, and then simply running the fan. By doing so, it tries to get the most out of your unit with the least possible energy expended.

Verdict: The 3rd gen Nest Learning Thermostat is rad

I’m a fan. The opportunity to automate your home’s heating and cooling has huge implications. After a few weeks you should experience consistently comfortable temperature, and see those bills start to fall.

The 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat reviews extremely well in terms of energy efficiency.

You can install it without much expertise. It looks great, and it’s intuitive to use. It learns your heat preferences without fiddly programming, and turns the heat down automatically when you’re out of the house or asleep.

You can access it wirelessly, or with Alexa, and the Nest app gives access to energy saving reports.

That said, the lack of ‘hands on’ scheduling might not appeal to everyone. And while the Auto Away system works on most homes, it isn’t flawless and might need some tweaking.

Notwithstanding, it’s an impressive thermostat. Priced at around $200, the 3rd gen Nest Thermostat is a great choice.