You may or may not know that the hardware for one of Apple’s most beloved products, the iPod, was developed by a guy named Tony Fadell. You also may or may not know that Fadell next turned his focus to building the best thermostat he could possibly conceive. And he called it Nest.
The Nest Mobile app was designed to work with the ingenious Nest thermostat, aka the Learning Thermostat, allowing you to control your heating or air conditioning right from your phone, as well as view reports on energy use and check or set your Nest’s schedule. Check out an overview of how it all works after the jump.
The Learning Thermostat
So, what’s so special about Nest? In a word: everything. This is a thermostat like you’ve never seen before. It can detect when you’re home and when you’re away; it shows you how your home is using energy so you can save more of it (and money!); it sees you when you’re sleeping, it knows when you’re awake … Just kidding about those last two things.
Nest is also called the Learning Thermostat because in its first week of installation it “learns” your schedule. Maybe you like the house extra cool at night. After a few days, Nest will start turning down the temperature for you, automatically. It can even differentiate between weekdays and weekends.
Another excellent feature is Auto-Away, because it can detect when you’re not home, and it will turn down the heating and cooling automatically, so that you’re not using any more energy than you need.
Managing Nest from Your iPhone
After downloading, installing and signing into Nest Mobile with your email address and a password, the app will keep you signed in automatically (at least until you perform a major update, etc.). Nest Mobile is simple to use, but there’s a lot you can do with it — how far down the rabbit hole you go is up to you.
One of its most obvious functions is to manage your thermostat. You can check your home’s temperature from anywhere, and you can also change the temperature. Say you were on vacation for an entire weekend and Nest was set to Away; an hour before you’re scheduled to get home, you can use Nest Mobile to start cooling the house, so that it’s perfect upon your return.
Or, maybe you left for the grocery store but forgot to turn the AC down. You can pull out your iPhone and take care of it right away. (Of course, even if you don’t, Nest will eventually detect your absence and do the job for you.)
Checking Energy Use
Turning your iPhone sideways will reveal more information within Nest Mobile. The first tab is Energy, and selecting it displays your energy use (a la horizontal bars) for the last 10 days.
A Nest Leaf appears on the lefthand side on days you saved energy (based on Nest’s understanding of your past pattern of energy use). And according to Nest, changing the temperature by just 1 degree can cut energy use up to 5 percent. Conveniently, the Nest Leaf also appears on the thermostat itself, whenever you turn the temperature to one that’s energy-efficient.
Any one of a handful of symbols may appear on the righthand side of the screen. These are there to indicate a reason for a change in your energy usage, such as the weather. Tapping on these symbols will reveal to you whether the cause translated to an increase or decrease.
Tapping on any one of the horizontal bars will display all the times your heating or cooling unit was cycled on throughout that 24-hour period, shown as vertical blue (for AC) or red (for heating) bars. This can be very useful in determining your peak times for energy use, which will in turn help you make adjustments as necessary to save a little energy and, hopefully, cash.
Keeping a Schedule
With the Nest Mobile app, you can also check your thermostat’s weekly and daily schedule, as well as make modifications. Selecting the Schedule tab calls up a chart with the days of the week as the y-axis (vertical), and the time of day as the x-axis (horizontal). Events are shown as circles displaying the temperature.
Tapping on any day of the week or any of the circles will provide a more detailed schedule for that particular day, plus give you the option to add, remove or edit any thermostat events that Nest takes care of automatically.
Under the Settings tab in Nest Mobile you can check some important stats on your house, such as the current temperature, the current humidity, the temperature Nest is currently cooling or heating to, and so on.
From Settings you can also check Nest’s learning progress. Here you are able to turn auto-scheduling on or off, and check to see whether or not certain features are ready, such as Auto-Away, Time-to-Temperature, Nest Leaf, Airwave and Energy History (these features become available a few days after the thermostat’s installation).
You can also set your Away temperatures in Settings — these are the lowest and highest temperatures Nest will allow your household to reach before allowing your heating or AC to cycle on again.
The Nest thermostat is revolutionary, but it’s not cheap; it will set you back approximately $250. That being said, it’s been installed in my house for only a few months, yet has already made me significantly more aware of my energy use. If I keep making the adjustments Nest’s software recommends, I’m pretty confident it could add up to some real savings. Still, time will tell how much energy and money it ultimately ends up saving.
If you’re already relatively handy around the house, you shouldn’t have many problems installing the device yourself. An instructional booklet arrives with the thermostat, and there are also installation videos available on the Nest website. If you’re lacking confidence in that department however, or run into issues (or would just rather not mess with it), you can always pay the $119 for professional installation.
The Nest Mobile app is simple, yet provides a lot of information, just like the thermostat itself. And it succeeds in incorporating pretty much all the same features included in the web-based application (yes, you can also manage your Nest thermostat from your browser), which provides continuity for the user.
Bottom line is: I would recommend the Nest thermostat to anyone and everyone. And if you have the Nest thermostat, you need Nest Mobile.