Think thermostats are just boring, cumbersome wall appliances? Well, think again. Smart thermostats are reshaping the design and functionality of thermostats to be more energy efficient and enjoyable to use.
This October marks the release of a new version of the Nest Learning Thermostat, a modernized home thermostat created in 2011 by designer Tony Fadwell. This chic, green innovation is stylish and easily personalized to the home and lifestyle of the owner. Costing $249, the second edition has a thinner design, new software and hardware updates, and works with a greater variety of heating and cooling systems. What differentiates the Nest from traditional thermostats? “Nest’s Learning Thermostat is a sleek, Wi-Fi-connected, intelligent climate control device that learns – and mimics – its owner's heating and cooling preferences,” states the Environmental Defense Fund. The long history of the thermostat is one of increasing personalization and computerization.
The first patented thermostat by Warren S. Johnson of the Johnson Controls Company was used primarily for commercial buildings. In 1906, Honeywell Company produced the first programmable thermostat. By 1924, the first thermostat with an anticipator, a means of automatically controlling temperatures, was created. The energy crisis of the 1970s fueled the establishment of energy codes and standards for thermostats in the United States. More recently, the Environmental Protection Agency's EnergyStar programs incorporated energy efficient thermostats that could save homeowners a projected $180 annually. Roughly 42% of the total residential energy expenditure went to heating and cooling, according to a 2008 article in Building and Environment. Reducing unnecessary and wasteful energy expenditure is vital to minimize climate impact, energy use and costs.
A common misconception of traditional thermostat ownership is that installation alone equates to energy savings. “The occupants must actively program the thermostat and select settings that result in savings,” states a Building and Environment article. Most homeowners do not actively adjust thermostats during the day to capitalize on potential energy savings. Usually, consumers set the thermostat to the desired temperature and forget about it. Unlike traditional thermostats, owning a Nest Learning Thermostat can save homeowners money every month with very little effort. The benefit of the automated features on the Nest Learning Thermostat is the computer algorithms, which adjust settings from room to room and throughout the day in order to lower overall energy use. The gadget tracks preferences and sets controls so that users do not have to.
The Nest Learning Thermostat controls not only temperature, but also ventilation, fans, and humidity at varying times and locations. Complete with an LCD display, the Nest thermostat has proximity sensors to detect and adjust settings based on occupancy. If you’re at work or on vacation, the Auto-Away feature adjusts temperatures to maximize savings. Furthermore, built-in Wi-Fi allows users to modify settings from smartphones or laptops when they are not at home. Nest boasts that families can save 14% to 26% of their energy bill using their smart thermostats.
“My favorite of the new thermostats is the Nest…. The Nest has a wonderfully intuitive user interface that even technophobes will quickly grasp,” reports Technology columnist, Farhad Manjoo, of the New York Times. Manjoo also appreciated the easy 30-minute installation and the modern design. He predicts that this new technology will only continue to improve in the future.