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Nest smart thermostat breaks into utility market

Nest smart thermostat breaks into utility market

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Nest Labs has won over Apple, Lowe's and investors with its sleek thermostat. Now, the company has landed a deal with utility Reliant that will put its learning thermostat in thousands of homes.

Nest Labs has won over Apple, home improvement giant Lowe's and investors with its sleekly designed thermostat loaded with intelligent features that allow it to learn. Now, the Silicon Valley company has landed a deal with Reliant, the Texas utility unit of NRG Energy.

Nest Labs, founded by the father of the iPod Tony Faddell, announced in a blog post today that its learning thermostat will be the centerpiece of Reliant's new home electricity plan. Reliant customers who sign up for the two-year fixed price Learn & Conserve plan will receive in return a Nest thermostat, which currently retails for $249.

This is a noteworthy deal for Nest, which is essentially tapping into Reliant's broad customer base to reach thousands of consumers. The deal is focused on Texas. However, that relationship could grow. Reliant provides electricity and energy services to more than 1.5 million customers in Texas and numerous other states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois and Maryland. And the utility is part of the much larger NRG Energy.

The Nest Learning Thermostat received in April a major software upgrade that includes some added features and some improvements to the hardware. This 2.0 version includes an enhanced energy history feature that gives users more detailed data on when heating and cooling was on in the past 10 days and how the weather or their thermostat adjustments affected their energy use.

Nest also also gave all of its phone and Web apps a facelift that now allows users to change the temperature while they’re away from the home, activate a range schedule and get a quick view of the current temperature.

Photo: Next Labs

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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