Tony Fadell led the design team that produced the iPod up to its 18th generation, nothing to do with heating, ventilation or air conditioning! In 2008 he left Apple and several years later founded a startup called Nest Labs, which was revealed this year to be a thermostat business. It’s quite a shift in industry, but it’s not that simple… it’s the iPod of HVAC stats!
This device seems so desirable and intuitive that it would turn home energy management into a must-have symbol of sustainable living, and maybe even a must-have accessory like the iPod . The retail price for the sexy stat is $249.99 starting in November, to be “a jewel on the wall… most people try to hide the thermostat, but we’re trying to make it sexy and coveted so that you cherish it, and at parties people ask you about it and you’re proud of it.” Check out this teaser video from Nest Labs:
So is this the replacement for the terribly outdated thermostat? If the marketing content is to be believed, then yes it is. I think the most intriguing and intelligent feature of the Nest Learning Thermostat is under that slick case. It’s equipped with software that analyzes and tracks your usage patterns over time, so that you only have to twist that dial a dozen times before the thermostat can simply anticipate your climate-control needs and take care of it automatically. “Instead of programming their thermostats, most people have given up and treat it like a light switch,” Fadell says. “But you have to make those manual adjustments about 1,500 times a year if you want to see any real energy savings.” Nest’s version elegantly lets you set it and forget it–at least after the initial learning period of about a week.
To adjust the temperature, turn a ring on the rim of the device–if you’re making it cooler, the display turns blue, and if you’re making it warmer, it turns red. The temperature itself is displayed in a clear, bright numeric readout. There’s also a helpful little green leaf that appears on the screen to guide to you into tweaking your settings for optimal energy savings, it reminds me of the display in any Toyota Hybrid car that lets you know when you’re using battery power so you can clap yourself on the back.
The manufacturer claims a two year payback period because it could save you up to 50% on annual heating/cooling bills. We’ll be keeping an eye on this one.