For the first time in three years, Google is introducing a new model to its Nest smart thermostat line and at $US130 ($180) the latest addition is the cheapest model yet without sacrificing much functionality, particularly if it’s going to be your first smart thermostat upgrade.
Simply called the Nest Thermostat it’s joining the $US250 ($345) Nest Learning Thermostat and the $US170 ($235) Nest Thermostat E which are still available. Like other recent additions to Google’s Nest line of smart home products, the new Nest Thermostat is designed to better blend into a home’s decor and will be available in a selection of four different colour finishes including snow, sand, charcoal, and fog (with an optional matching $20 trim plates too) that’s paired with a tinted mirror finish on the face so that it now literally reflects the decor of the room where it’s installed.
Editor’s Note: The Nest Thermostat is not currently available in Australia.
There’s still a colour screen hidden under that reflective facade that automatically turns on when temperature adjustments are being made, or when someone approaches the device as detected by a version of the Soli sensor used in previous-generation Pixel smartphones. The information displayed is kept minimal, including a house’s current temperature and what the thermostat has been set to, alternating between blue when an air conditioner is cooling, or red when a furnace is actively heating.
Unlike the older Nest Learning Smart Thermostat whose design features a large metal scroll wheel that can be physically turned for making adjustments, the new Nest Thermostat opts for a “swipe and tap interface” where users touch and slide their fingers along the outer edge of the unit to make temperature changes, or tap the side to navigate settings menus.
But most users who install a smart thermostat are looking to eliminate the inconvenience of having to go to the actual thermostat to make adjustments. As with previous versions, the new Nest Thermostat connects to the Google Home app allowing remote temperature adjustments, temperature scheduling, and activating the product’s hallmark learning feature which strives to pick up your habits, as well as when you are and aren’t home, in order to fine tune the scheduling to optimise energy efficiency. Not having to walk to the thermostat is nice, but Nest continues to position its thermostats as a way to save money on your heating and cooling bills — to the point where it will actually make suggestions on tiny temperature changes that will reduce your energy usage.
With the new Nest Thermostat the company is taking those back-end learning smarts one step further. Unless you’re a heating and cooling professional, you don’t really know when your air conditioner or furnace is going to break down until it does — and usually at the most inopportune time. In the Google Home app Nest is adding HVAC monitoring which can not only remind you when it’s time to schedule regular servicing or when a filter is due to be replaced, but also keep an eye out for inconsistencies in your furnace or air conditioner’s heating or cooling performance, which could potentially point to larger problems that need to be addressed. It’s a feature that will work right out of the box with the new Nest Thermostat, but one that Google plans to introduce for older models at a later date.
So why is Nest still selling the older, more expensive versions of its smart thermostats? Aside from the lack of a physical scroll wheel, the new Nest Thermostat doesn’t include the ability to connect to the Nest Temperature Sensors which allow you to set temperature preferences on a room by room basis in your home. For those who find their upstairs gets too hot at night because the Nest thermostat on the main floor assumes the whole house is cold, the additional sensors can make temperature managing a lot easier. If you’ve already got the Nest Learning Thermostat installed at home, the new version might not be worth it.
If you haven’t upgraded your thermostat yet, or aesthetics are your biggest priority, the new Nest Thermostat is available for pre-order today for $US130 ($180) on Google’s online store and will be available in “select retailers” in the coming weeks.