What is a Nest Thermostat?

The Nest Thermostat is a Google offering designed for your home. The idea is to make your heating system ‘smart’ by having one of these thermostats interact with your existing boiler.

The premise itself is nothing new, you can set a desired temperature, programme the system to come on and off at set times. The aim is to keep your home warm when required but make sure you are not wasting energy when nobody is home. Not only is this helping the environment but should also work to save you money on your energy bills. What makes the Nest Thermostat different is the ‘smart’ aspect.

As well as being able to set all of the usual timings and temperatures from an accompanying app on your phone or tablet, the Thermostat will attempt to learn from your routines. For example, if it detects that on Monday to Friday you wake up around 6am and then leave the home at 8am, your heating will be activated and then cut off appropriately. Although this may not sound too smart yet, it will also work out over time how long it takes to heat your home. This means that if you usually set 20℃ in the morning, the Nest Thermostat will calculate what time it needs to turn on your heating to achieve 20℃ by 6am.

Is the system difficult to install?

This depends on the type of heating system you have and your level of knowledge when it comes to DIY. The thermostat communicates with your boiler through a control unit known as a ‘Heat Link’. For those with a ‘normal’ thermostat already installed, you can usually replace your existing control unit very easily. The nest app will help guide you through the process. It is often as easy as connecting two wires to the new ‘Heat Link’.

Note: It is vital that the electrical supply to your boiler is completely isolated. Any mistakes here could result in damage to your system or an electric shock. If you are in doubt, call an electrician.

For other types of system, refer to the App which will guide you through the process. Once again, if you are unsure, call a professional. The App will also provide a list of endorsed tradesmen that can competently install these systems.

Once the ‘Heat Link’ is installed, the next step is connecting it to the Nest Thermostat. This is usually an automatic process which will begin when you select the option in the App. As long as the thermostat is in range of the control unit, this should be completed within a few seconds.

This whole process will generally take an hour or less to complete.

Is it expensive?

Coming in a range of colours, the thermostat plus control unit will cost you around £200-£220. There are regular sales and special offers involving Nest Thermostats, so it is worth looking around if you are thinking about getting one. Sometimes energy suppliers will offer them as an incentive for buying a certain tariff. Currently SSE are offering a deal with a free Google Nest Thermostat and Smart display included.

Does it work well?

Smart Thermostats are a new way for companies to integrate themselves into our homes. The existing smart speakers that many of us already have in our home can also be used to interact with the smart thermostat. The option of using your voice as well as the App works as you would expect. The Google variant and Centrica’s Hive system both have a high degree of positive reviews.

What are the advantages of installing a Nest Thermostat?

This mainly falls down to doing your bit for the environment and helping to save money on bills. By being more efficient with your heating and making sure it is only active when it needs to be, you are not wasting energy or money. If you leave for the school run and forget to turn off the heating, you do not have to spend the entire time you are out thinking of the money you have wasted. Simply open the App and turn the heating down, or off. You may find over time that the system has worked out your routine and automatically done this for you anyway.

The App will also offer you an eco-mode, schedule and show your heating history. The history tab can help you understand your habits and compare data. Through the schedule tab you can view timings and temperature settings, which can all be modified from the App. Eco mode will reduce the amount of time your system is on. At the same time, it will monitor temperatures to make sure your pipes do not freeze over.

If you wish to create separate heating zones, for example, one upstairs and the other downstairs, you can. By setting up a second thermostat, along with valves for radiators, you will be able to have different heat settings for each zone. Most homes are not set up to fully take advantage of this yet and buying many radiator thermostatic valves could become expensive. However, it is likely that this will become more normal in the future.

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