Intelligent Energy

Nest's smart thermostat gets even smarter

Posting in Design

The smart thermostat created by the folks behind Apple's iPod has been given a facelift. Now, the five-month-old Nest learning thermostat is even smarter.

It was a mere five months ago when Silicon Valley startup Nest Labs introduced a sleek Apple design-inspired thermostat loaded with intelligent features that allowed it to learn. Now, Nest is giving its smart thermostat a major upgrade.

Nest announced Thursday a major software upgrade that includes some added features for its smart thermostat as well as updated hardware. According to Nest, its customers have asked for these updates and now after some testing and tweaking, the 2.0 version is finally rolling out.

The updated software will include a so-called 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. The data is now available on the Web app, iPad and both Android and iPhone smartphones. Nest 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.

Nest also added cool air efficiency feature called Airwave. The feature, which Nest says can save up to 30 percent on your cooling costs, is best used when the humidity in your home is low and the weather's hot. The Airwave basically stops an air conditioner early, then uses the fan to spread cool air from the turned-off air compressor through the home.

Nest Labs tweaked the physical thermostat as well. The away setting was given a more prominent spot and a range button was added to the heating/cooling/off menu.

According to Nest, most customers install the thermostat themselves and three out of four do-it-yourselfers get it set up in less than 30 minutes. Nest wanted to make the installation process even easier. The company revamped the press connectors on the backplate, moving them to the outer edge so that even (as they put it) "those with the clumiest of fingers can install the Nest with ease."

And finally, here's a little improvement that should make design nerds smile. Nest customers were apparently not terribly happy with the anchors used to install the thermostat to the wall. So the company designed its own custom screws that can be installed without wall anchors.

Photo: Nest

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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