RSS

The Bulletin

Nest connects smart thermostats to the grid

Posting in Energy

Nest Labs has partnered with several utilities to take the intelligence embedded in its sleek Web-enabled learning thermostat beyond the home and to the grid in an effort to broaden its energy savings mission.

Nest introduced this week a variety of energy services that connect its smart thermostats to the cloud-based data of its utility company partners. The services are available to customers of Nest's energy partners, Austin Energy, Reliant Energy, National Grid, Green Mountain Energy and Southern California Edison. The announcement builds on Nest's entry into the utility market last year.

Two of the programs--Rush Hour Rewards and Seasonal Savings--are powered by Auto-Tune, cloud-based big data technology developed by Nest that seeks out and automatically takes advantage of personalized opportunities to save homeowners money and energy. Auto-Tune is a combination of big data algorithms and Nest's cache or behavioral knowledge (gleaned from all the smart thermostats it has sold) of personal temperature preferences and schedules, the weather and home profiles.

As Nest puts it:

Everything your Nest learns about you—your schedule, your energy plan, the temperatures you like, when you’re home and away, what the weather’s like near you, how efficient your furnace is and how leaky your windows are—can now be used to take full advantage of every money-making opportunity and energy-saving tweak that makes sense for your home.

Rush Hour Rewards is essentially demand response, an industry term used to describe programs that get customers to voluntarily to trim their energy use during peak periods in response to time-based rates or other financial incentives. The Rush Hour program will pay customers to avoid using energy during peak periods (or rush hours) of demand, such as a hot summer day.

Instead of relying on customers to remember to adjust their thermostat, the intelligence inside the Nest will adjust the temperature automatically.

Under the Seasonal Savings program, a customer's Nest thermostat schedule is automatically fine-tuned to save energy. Nest owners have used 5 percent to 10 percent less heating and cooling during field tests, the company said.

Nest stresses in its marketing that customers are always in control of their thermostats. If the indoor temps aren't comfortable a customer can make it cooler.

Photo: Nest

— By on April 23, 2013, 7:29 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure