Thermostats Go Green, High-Tech, and Oh, So Cool!
I love when someone redefines a boring, everyday item. It’s one thing to come out with some new product that no one has ever heard of before, but I think it’s even harder to take a ubiquitous object that we all take for granted and do something truly amazing with it. This year’s Better Living Show features NW Natural’s Blue Home, stuffed full of great ideas to make life better and greener. Hidden in this treasure trove is the quintessential “better mouse trap.” Before giving away the secret, let’s talk about the old mouse trap that is living in your house right now.
Your Home’s Thermostat
You know—that thing that sits in your house that senses when the temperature is too hot or too cold and turns on the air conditioning or the heat, or whatever. The cheap one that came with your house probably does just that and nothing more. So, maybe you went out and bought a programmable thermostat—one that supposedly saves you money by turning the heating or cooling system to different temperatures at different times of the day. It might even have a “hold temp” feature for when you are away. Except that you have to remember to turn that on when you leave. Oh, and you might need a degree in electronics to program the silly thing. Sometimes you get cute pictures, or a clock, or a fancy display. Maybe it glows in the dark, so you can see it at night (unless you wear glasses, like me, and can’t see anything at night anyway!). Unfortunately, none of these whiz-bangs save you money on your heating bill.
What makes the Nest so amazing is that it learns. The unit will ask a few basic questions when you install it (the website says if you can install a light fixture, you can install a Nest—otherwise they offer installation). Over the first week, it will notice when you turn the heat/cooling down or up. After that, it will automatically set the temperature for you.
The unit has activity sensors that notice when you are gone and adjust the temperature accordingly. These same sensors “notice” when you approach, even at night, and adjust the display brightness. The Nest tells you how long it will take to reach your desired temperature. It is also connected via WiFi to the Internet and monitors current weather and forecasts to learn how the outside conditions affect your habits. Over time, the Nest reports to you how much energy you are using/saving, so you can learn from it, just as it is learning from you.
Christy Peterson is a local writer who blogs at Tweets & Tree Frogs. In it she shares an appreciation for “ordinary” wildlife and a love for children’s literature, especially books about the natural world.