The Nest Learning Thermostat is, I’m betting, the first HVAC device to excite so much chatter in the blogosphere. An improbable mingling of tech, design, and shelter sites have voiced praised for the new digital thermostat’s sleek design and user-friendly interface—not to mention the environmental contribution it stands to make, which almost seems like a tacked-on bonus given how much fun it is to play with, reviewers say.
Of course, saving energy is the Nest thermostat’s raison d’etre. Studies indicate that heating and cooling make up for roughly half of residential energy consumption, while turning the heat or air conditioning down a single degree results in a five percent energy saving. The wasted energy and cumulative expense at stake is the whole point of programmable thermostats in the first place.
But until now, homeowners have mostly avoided, or been incapable of, learning to actually program their programmable thermostats. Research in 2008 found that homes with programmable models actually used more energy than comparable homes with standard thermostats. Subsequently, Energy Star lifted its certification from the entire category of products. The Nest’s intuitive, easy-as-an-iPod controls may change all that.
Already, the company has sold out its initial production run (quantity unknown), and it’s temporarily closed the shutters on its online store. No surprise there. You can tell from the pictures: Lots of people will purchase the Nest for its aesthetic value. Another contingent may invest (the Nest retails at $250) to lower their bills. Still another group is likely to covet the positive ecological impact promised and will pay up for the good of Ma Nature. Nobody’s talking yet about whether it lives up to the hype, but judging by the early reception, untold scores of homeowners are going to buy the Nest thermostat for at least one, or probably all, of the reasons above.