About the Nest Learning Thermostat

Begin Your Smart Home With Nest

Your home’s thermostat probably isn’t on your mind throughout the day.  It’s likely something you set months ago and adjust infrequently – maybe only as the seasons change.  If you’re like most people, you leave the house at one temperature and forget to change it because programming a thermostat is complicated and irritating.

Meet the next generation thermostat!  The Nest Learning Thermostat can lower your heating and cooling bills up to 20% by learning your schedule and programing itself to operate efficiently.  Whether you’re considering transitioning to a complete smart home or just want something to show off to the neighbors, the Nest should be the FIRST purchase you make for your winter home.

If you don’t think thermostats are important, consider this: they control half of your home’s energy bill.  That’s more than lighting, computers, appliances, TVs and stereos combined.  If you’re thermostat isn’t programmed optimally, you could be throwing away a couple hundred dollars per year.

The Nest Learning Thermostat isn’t just practical, it’s also sexy.  Wait a minute… can a thermostat be sexy?  Yeah, I guess it can be when it is envisioned by the creator of the iPod.  Tony Fadell, the founder of Nest Labs, served as a Senior Vice President at Apple and is known as one of the fathers of the iPod.  While building a vacation home, Tony decided to design a new and better thermostat when he found himself unimpressed by those that were available in the market.  Partnering with Matt Rogers, the two founded Nest Labs in 2010.

Video: Meet the Nest Learning Thermostat


Features

Nest has been created to save energy and money.  And with Auto-Schedule, it does both automatically.  Once installed, all you need to do is change the temperature for a few days.  This helps teach Nest about your climate preferences.  It doesn’t just learn the temperature that you like.  It also learns the time, the day of the week, and your patterns.  It continually adapts to your life’s changes, and is so simple that 99% of Nests have schedules that match their owners’ lives.

Auto-Away is a feature that utilized built-in sensors to determine if the house is empty.  When Nest detects that no one is home, it automatically adjusts to a more conservative temperature to save energy.  Auto-Away works in 90% of homes, and 75% of those home go into Auto-Away at least once per week.

The Nest Leaf appears when you choose a temperature setting that will save energy.  By adjusting the temperature just one degree, you can save up to 5% on your energy bill.  The leaf is a visual representation to guide you toward saving money.

Airwave lowers your air conditioning runtime automatically when the humidity in your home isn’t too high.  This feature can reduce A/C runtime by up to 30% by turning off the unit a few minutes early , then using the fan to spread the cold air through your home.

Auto-Tune is a service that is only available through Nest’s energy partners, and powers Rush Hour Rewards and Seasonal Savings.  Rush Hour Rewards takes advantage of energy company incentives that pay you to use less energy when other people are using more.  Seasonal Savings takes everything that Nest has learned about you and fine-tunes your schedule to save energy without sacrificing comfort.  You can check to see if your utility company is an energy partner here.

Video: How the Nest Learning Thermostat Learns


Conducting Additional Research

When making important purchases, I recommend performing additional research at Amazon.com.  I always read the customer reviews to get an idea of how others feel about the item.  I think about how I would use the product and try to find similar users who have left reviews, and see if their experience has been favorable or unfavorable.

I like to start by looking at the “Most Helpful First” reviews.  This is usually the default setting that you would receive if you went to the review page on Amazon.  I read the first couple of reviews and look for patterns related to the pros and cons of the item.  When reading the “Most Helpful First” reviews, it’s important to note the dates those reviews were made, however.  If the review was done a year ago, you’ll have to ask yourself if it is still relevant.  Has the manufacturer made any revisions, updates, design changes, etc. since then?  If so, you might want to put less weight into certain reviews.

Next, I review the “Newest First” option.  This helps to answer the question if any changes were recently made to the product.  Look for how many stars the most recent reviews have.  Is the average above or below the overall product average?  Do you notice any important issues that are being repeated over and over?  Try to spot trends that are being called out in the reviews and determine how they would relate to how you plan on using the product.

You can do your additional research on the Nest Learning Thermostat right now by clicking the following links to take you directly to the reviews sorted by:
Most Helpful First
Newest First

Smart Homes for Snowbirds

What is a smart home?

A smart home is one that utilizes automation and the latest in technology to provide the home owner with comfort, security, efficiency, and convenience, whether you’re home or away.  Think of a home where appliances, lights, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, audio & video systems, security, and camera systems are all able to communicate with one another.  Or where you are able to interact and control them via your smart phone or tablet.  Or where they are able to email you detailed reports providing updates on their current operational status or a history of their use over the past week.  Imagine a home that is able to learn your lifestyle preferences and automatically adjust itself to help your family live in comfort, while optimizing efficiency to lower your utility bills.  This is what a smart home is all about.

Most homes do not already have the appliances and systems built into them to be considered a smart home.  In many cases, however, it is relatively easy and affordable for the home owner to retrofit smart products in to their home.

What kind of devices would you find in a smart home?

Lighting.  Controlling your home’s lighting is one of the easiest places to start when transitioning to a smart home.  There are many affordable starter kits that will allow you to utilize home automation in just minutes.

Security.  Installing a DIY wireless home security system to keep your family safe is simpler than ever.  Many systems combine control with this security, providing an added convenience.

Audio & Video.  Controlling your entertainment system with home automation is easy.  With the touch of a button on one remote control or your smartphone, the lights can be dimmed and your home theater and audio system can be ready to watch a movie with the sound set just the way you like it.

Climate Control.  Your home’s temperature can be programmed and controlled remotely, helping you save energy and money.  When starting a smart home project, this is where I would begin.  Read more about the Nest Learning Thermostat to find out why.

Why should a snowbird own a smart home?

Convenience.  This is one of the biggest reasons that you should consider retrofitting, building, or purchasing a smart home.  The remote access to all of your home’s connected features allow you to monitor and control your home from afar.  If you’re still up north and you want to check in on your winter home, it can be done quickly and easily by checking an app on your phone.

Security.  Advanced security features such as network linked cameras and motion sensors that can communicate automatically with the police or a private security company provide an extra level of comfort for snowbirds who will be splitting time living between two homes.  Additionally, smart homes may also make use of key cards or fingerprint identification in place of conventional locks to make it more difficult for someone to break in.

Accessibility.  We’re all going to get older.  This is just a fact of life.  Owning a smart home, however, can provide accessibility features that can help make life easier for elderly or disabled residents.  Voice-activated systems will help the owner control lighting, lock doors, use a computer, or operate a telephone.  In addition, labor-intensive tasks like watering the lawn or flower beds can be performed automatically with home automation.

Resale.  Automating a home can attract buyers and increase a home’s market value, since it will have an abundance of effective selling points.  Homes with automated systems have the potential to sell for much more than similar homes with conventional technologies.

Air Conditioning Maintenance Tips for Snowbirds

Air Conditioning Maintenance and Service for Snowbirds

Living in the South, one often overlooked item you should pay attention to is your air conditioning unit. I have found in my Florida home that we don’t use the air conditioner very often during the winter months, as we prefer to open the windows and feel the cool night breezes. There are, however, still those winter days when having the A/C on provides more comfort than when it’s not. Knowing the importance of the unit, and the expense of replacing it if things go wrong, listed below are a few essential tips to keep your A/C performing well.

Continue reading “Air Conditioning Maintenance Tips for Snowbirds”