The Nest Thermostat has been released in America for quite a few years now, but it has only recently made its way over the pond to the United Kingdom and this seems like the perfect time to review it, in its second generation form. The thermostat maker was bought out by Google earlier this year for a huge amount and despite worries about how they would control the device, much has remained the same.
For those who don’t know much both about boilers and electricity, it is probably best for you to go pay for the install of the Nest Thermostat to be done for you, it doesn’t add too much to the cost and it certainly allays any stress, both in terms of fiddling with electrics and making sure it works right from the outset.
Our installer arrived exactly at our set time and the good news is that it wasn’t any kind of fancy VIP install, this was the same setup as anyone would get whether a reviewer or general consumer. All of the Nest installers are contracted out and have all been through training on the thermostat.
Our guy checked out our current heating system and then told us it was a very simple change over. We already had a wireless thermostat setup, but this was a very basic one that kept crashing and was nothing fancy.
The first thing that gets setup is the heat link which connects up to your boiler and the electrics coming from it. Basically our installer just removed our old one and connected it up to the new one in about 4-5 minutes. During this time he had plugged in the actual Nest Thermostat to get it up and running as quickly as possible.
Once the Head Link was attached to our cupboard wall, he then came over and discussed where we would like our Nest Thermostat to be installed. This is where most of our discussions were made as we hadn’t a clue. Our old thermostat just sits on a shelf, he said the Nest is best suited at eye level on a wall.
Pay for an installer to get everything setup correctly and lessen worry about electrical mishaps.
Unfortunately for us we don’t have that many plug sockets in our house, but the installer devised a way for us to run the USB cable through the wall in the kitchen in to our living room. This meant we have it setup on our wall without any wires showing anywhere. It worked perfectly and hadn’t even crossed our minds when we had talked about where to put it in the week before our installation.
If you don’t want it attached to a wall or don’t have the kind of option we had, you can have an optional nest stand and just have it plugged directly into a wall socket, it works just the same.
Once he had had drilled through our wall and attached the Nest he started to run the setup and walked me through it. The first thing that had to happen was to setup a Nest account on my phone (or PC/Mac), this means you can link your Nest up to an account and control it all online. Next we took the Nest online - this was simple, we just selected our network by turning the outer ring, we then entered our password in the same way.
The full install took around 30 minutes and we were up and running right after
Once this was done an update was downloaded which took around 5-10 minutes to get. After that the Nest was linked up the Heat Link in our cupboard, which took a few seconds. Then we connected the nest to my newly setup nest account, it was simple and works in seconds.
As soon as that was complete, the installer showed me through all the settings on the device and explained what features did and which ones will be learning from how we like our heating over the following week.
The installer tidied up any mess he had made and asked if we had anymore questions and was then on his way. Overall this was as good as an install can be of a device like this, the installer was helpful, came up with a setup idea that we hadn’t even thought of and explained everything about the Nest Thermostat correctly which was a very good sign for the service.
Living with Nest
After the install it was time to get down to working out exactly what this thermostat can do. On the front of the nest is a display which comes on either when you walk by it (if you want it to) or when you press it. Once the display is on show you can see your current house temperature and the humidity level inside.
If you want to increase the temperature is your house all you need to do is to turn the outer dial of the Nest to the right, the temperature goes up in increments of .5 degrees. If you have air conditioning or any other cooling/heating system then you can also reduce the temperature too by turning it the other way.
As we are basing this review on the UK version of Nest and that the majority of houses in the UK are radiator based and don’t have any kind of cooling systems (it tends to be cold here anyway!) we have covered it from a heating perspective. Our house is a full gas boiler radiator system.
Putting the Nest to the test was easy for us, its winter time and the UK is in the middle of frost and rain so heating up our houses is high on the agenda. First things first we tested out the Nest to see exactly what is was learning from us, going into the settings on the device it tells you that it is currently learning your heating schedule, this means that as we increase or decrease the temperature in our house at certain times of the day it learns when we do it and can create an automatic schedule based on those changes, this takes about a week for the Nest to learn.
I have to say that just over a week later the Nest has almost got everything perfect schedule-wise, it learnt that around 5.30am when we get up, we like the temperature to be around 18 degrees, and that when we leave the house by around 8am we like it to be around 10 degrees max. It even detected the various times I get home and go out again such as 4pm when I return with my daughter, or 11pm when we go to bed, it worked really well and made scheduling heating a breeze, we really haven’t had to fiddle with the schedule settings one bit since then, except when the outside temperature was a little warmer than usual.
Nest learns how long it takes your house to heat up so that it can calculate exactly how much heating to use to keep you comfortable.
The Nest also has a feature called “True Radiant” this means that the Nest can learn how long it takes your house to heat up to the temperature you want it to be, so say at 8am you like it to be 20 degrees, the Nest will learn how long it takes your boiler to fire up and get the house to that exact temperature and make sure that at 8am it IS actually 20 degrees and not just slowly getting to it. The True Radiant feature actually learnt our system pretty quickly and was up and running in about 4 days and gets it spot on. The display on the Nest can even tell you the exact amount of time it will take to reach any temperature you set too.
The next feature that was of interest was what they like to call the “Nest Leaf” this is a little icon that appears on the display when the Nest detects that the temperature you are using will save energy and save you money. One thing we have noticed is that the Nest can make you more wary about the temperatures you have in your house, with our old thermostat we used to leave the heating on at 21 degrees whenever we were home and it seemed to always mean that our radiators would be on full blast all the time.
With the Nest we have started to adjust things, even slightly changing a temperature down a little can save money and turning off the heating at certain times of the day is a benefit too, yes other thermostats allow you to do this on a schedule, but nothing is as easy as the Nest is. At the moment it is hard to say if we have saved any money using the Nest, but our temperatures have been slightly lower and we don’t have the heating on quite as much, so we can’t see any reason why we won’t have right now.
The Nest also features something called “Auto-Away” this lets the Nest turn itself down if it detects that you have left the house with the heating on. It took about a week for this feature to come into action and I have seen it work a couple of times when we have disappeared out with the heating on then returned home an hour or two later and see that our temperature has dropped a few degrees down from the setting we had, its a great feature and one that can make quite an energy saving.
To improve the way Auto-Away works you can also combine the Nest thermostat with the Nest Protect smoke detectors, they can be used in different areas of you house and can also detect when you are not around, it just helps make the system more accurate for when you have gone out suddenly. We should be covering the Nest Protect in the next few weeks and will talk about this feature in more detail then.
Finally we have the Energy History and Energy Reports which the Nest create for you. These reports help you see how the Nest has worked for you, it shows when you heating has been on, what temperature it was and how the weather and Auto-Away features have worked for you. Over the past couple of weeks we have checked them out and its interesting to see exactly how we have been using our heating.
As we mentioned at the start of the review, you can connect your Nest up to your Wi-Fi and then use your mobile (except Windows Phone of course) to control your temperature from home or when you are out and about. You can also use your mobile device to change any of the Nest’s settings such as Auto-Away and add schedules if you want to. We have made lots of use of the Nest app and it has worked perfectly at home, from work and when returning home and setting the heating to the temperature we want to be when we return, its the perfect companion.
Features like Auto-Away and the Leaf make it simple to see how and where to save money too, and as I said in the review, as a household we have become more wary about how high a temperature we use at certain times of the day and no longer have the temperature up so high at all times.
Controlling the Nest via the mobile app is one of the easiest things to do, its simple and has always worked for us right from day one with not one crash or connection issue and that is at home or away.
We highly recommend the install option too, especially if you are wary about any kind of live wiring, the installer was great and really helpful during out setup and for the price you pay you get piece of mind that it is setup properly, but for those who want to go it alone, the instructions a very detailed and easy to follow.
We have had the Nest for just over two weeks now and we certainly wouldn't part with it. Yes most modern thermostats can be programmed to a schedule, but the Nest makes it so easy that you rarely have to change anything. The design is also superb and the major difference is just how easy to use it is, even my parents can use it thanks to the app.