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Having lived with Google’s Nest Thermostat for almost five months now, the best thing I can say about it is that I’ve utterly ignored it almost the entire time.
For many people, the lifestyle improvements brought about by modern technology are often overshadowed by their daunting complexity. And so, to say that the Nest Thermostat has subtly improved my life while I remain barely aware of its presence is a testament to its success.
There’s some initial setup hurdles, and if you have a particular aversion to tech, you might seek some help with this. But once the Nest Thermostat is up and running, you can basically just forget it even exists, and it will simply do the job of managing your home heating and air conditioning through both hot and cold seasons without intervention.
And if you are a more advanced user, the Nest’s capabilities are expanded further. It’s a device that serves you the way that you want to be served.
My initial impressions were very good, and you can read all about that (and find out more about the setup process and its capabilities) in my first Nest Thermostat review. This long-term review is a look into how the Nest Thermostat has integrated seamlessly into my life, some of the challenges I have encountered, and how the modern convenience it provides has made it a must-have device in my household.
Automation Is Its Key Superpower
To reiterate my earlier point, the Google Nest Thermostat is all about automation. You set it and forget it. I plugged in a temperature schedule for my initial review period, and nipped into the app every now and then to tweak it based on my actual life habits (you’d be surprised how tricky it can be to plot out your weekly schedule from memory).
It’s also nice to be able to do this from my phone. I’ve always avoided messing with the old fashioned and often confusing menus on traditional thermostats. Usually, I don’t even bother to set a schedule. But throughout the last five months, I’ve found myself much more willing to make quick adjustments to my heating schedule, purely because of the convenience of it being configurable from my phone.
Having cellphone control and, in fact, the many forms of remote access possible with the Nest Thermostat has been wonderful. Not having to get off the couch when I’m feeling a little colder than usual is so nice. I tend to use my phone as the primary remote control, but a quick shout to my Nest Mini smart speaker is also enough to instantly summon a temp change, and I love it.
“Honey, I’m Home!”
For me, however, the most transformative feature is the Nest Thermostat’s Presence Sensing. That is, its ability to automatically relax your air conditioning when you’re not home, and then spring into action when you return.
It’s simply impossible to schedule every minute of your life, especially during the weekends. Will I stay home and order a pizza, or go out with friends? The Nest Thermostat’s ability to react to my presence is a game changer.
Does it actually save any money though? My wife and I quite often spend weekends outside, resulting in several hours of less intense AC use per month, so it surely should be saving some small amount. But it’s hard, nigh impossible to quantify.
I’ve had the Thermostat during the winter months, so I took a look at my gas bills. In January 2020 I paid $111. In the same month this year, I paid $81. Woah! I saved $30! But wait. In January 2019 I also paid exactly $81.
And so, clearly, fluctuations in natural gas prices, fickle winter weather where I live, and the undefined usage of other high-energy devices in my home (ahem… PlayStation) throws up too many variables to really know what role the Nest Thermostat is playing in my energy bills. Unfortunately, we just have to believe it’s saving money, or at a minimum energy usage.
Are You Still There?
The Nest Thermostat also has its challenges. As with a lot of automation, sometimes, technology can make mistakes. I found that the Nest Thermostat would occasionally think I’d gone out, simply because I was napping on the couch or engrossed in a video game, and hadn’t walked by it enough to satisfy its presence detection.
I’d notice the house getting cold, and would need to either pull out my phone to force it back to the Comfort mode, or purposefully walk near it to let it know I was still home.
This issue is largely remedied by activating the phone location tracking option, which uses your phone’s GPS as a more reliable way of detecting whether or not you’re home. But this also means making sure every member of the household is invited to your Google Home account as ‘family’, and that they’ve all turned on that feature in their Google Home app settings.
Also, it’s a real shame that the Nest Thermostat is not compatible with the Nest Temperature Sensors, which could help it regulate temps throughout the floor a bit better. Sadly those extra peripherals are exclusive to the $249 Nest Learning Thermostat.
Happy HVAC Health, Happy Home
In my time with the Nest Thermostat, it has yet to give me any notifications about the maintenance of my AC system. That’s good news — things are apparently working well and I feel good knowing that.
And so, even though I’ve yet to have any interaction with its intelligent detection of HVAC system health, it’s still providing value to me in the form of peace of mind. My thermostat is happy, therefore I’m happy.
Should You Buy the Nest Thermostat?
I praised the $129.99 Nest Thermostat in my first review. Now, with five months of ownership under my belt, I’m even more convinced than ever that this relatively inexpensive piece of tech is an absolute must.
The convenience of remote control, the ease of using voice commands and the peace of mind of the HVAC health monitoring are all wonderful. It also makes me happy to know that my AC isn’t cranking away for hours while I’m not home. We all need to save the planet, and every little bit counts.
The Nest Thermostat is easy to use, and it integrates itself so seamlessly that you forget you even have it. That is its greatest achievement.
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