Green Insight: You Don’t Need a Nest.

The new Nest “intelligent” home thermostat made my frugal sweater-wearing self quietly sigh. As much as I am all in for emerging energy efficiency technologies, this feels like a shiny-new solution in search of a problem.

Fledged in fall 2011, Nest Labs’ cute, sleek digital thermostat has an Apple pedigree in its family tree. The hook is that a Nest thermostat  “learns” about your home comfort habits and builds a personal temperature schedule over time.

What is so hard about programming 5 settings to cover most families’ weekday and weekend schedules? Do you really need an app for that?


With a simplicity and design that caters to the chic sensibilities of a new generation of homeowners, Nest learns about the occupants’ comfort levels over time as adjustments are entered into the easy-to-use scheduling program. The LCD screen displays when energy is being saved, as well as how much time remains until a new temperature is reached.

The Nest thermostat violates my Not Broke Don’t Fix maxim by seeking to solve the problem that many American homeowners don’t own or use a programmable thermostat to save money and energy.

My $.03:

1. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, call your electrician today and get one. Keeping your home temperature steady 24/7 wastes serious energy and money.

2. Spend five minutes learning how to use your programmable thermostat. Youtube an instruction video. Download the manual. If you can use your DVR function, you are more than capable of this task.

3. Invest the money you would have spent on a Nest on some inexpensive weatherstripping to seal air leaks in your home.

Might be a tempest in a thermos anyway. Giant Honeywell sued Nest in early February for patent infringement. Read the story.

This might be a sound investment for the tech-savvy looking for the home efficiency equivalent of hypermiling. But for most of us? A traditional programmable thermostat and air sealing get the job done.

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