Should I Buy a Nest Thermostat?

It’s trendy, it’s sleek, it uses wifi and it could be yours. It’s a Nest Thermostat.

Should you get one? MyFirstCondo received a complimentary third generation version to review, so we thought we’d put it to the test.

If you’ve recently bought a condo, you’ve likely seen the Nest Thermostat touted in home listings. Its main features are its fashionable LCD display, your ability to interact with it remotely via an app on your phone and its ability to learn your home and your patterns, so that it heats and cools efficiently without your having to do much.

According to Nest, the product saves an average of 10-12% on your heating bill and about 15% on your cooling bill, all because of its smart systems. That said, because it uses AI, it takes up to 90 days (or longer, as the seasons change) to learn how to be most efficient. So, we’ll review that aspect of the thermostat later, in part two, sometime this fall.

Today, we’ll cover the cost, the installation, its ease of use and its appearance.

Cost

It is pricy, with a rack rate of $249. Because it’s energy efficient, rebates are available – I would get a $100 rebate from my electric company (ComEd in the Chicago metro), which I get instantly via the Nest website, before running my credit card. That’s appealing.

You can save a few bucks by ordering online from Amazon or other vendors, but you may not get that instant rebate and need to apply for it separately.

Competing smart wifi-enabled thermostats run from between $126-248. In other words, if you are in an area with a rebate, you’re getting a good price. Otherwise, the price isn’t insane, but it’s on the high end.

Keep in mind, though, that a cheapo programmable thermostat can be had for around $50 – this is an upgrade, but you’re paying for it.

Is it worth it? Time will tell – check back for our second review.

Installation

The box claims most people install it in 30 minutes or less – and I believe it. Everything from the customized screwdriver to the optional wall plate, to the bubble level inside the product, is intuitive and easy to use.

If you’re handy, or you know what to expect, you will have no trouble installing this. Plus, there’s 24/7 phone support, which I didn’t need – a good sign.

To give you an idea, here’s what I started with:

When I took that off, here’s what was left:

And then here’s the Nest fully installed:

Pretty simple.

Somehow that took me 40 minutes, but I’m a very deliberate worker – I don’t do many home improvement projects, so I’m very cautious and make sure I measure many times before moving forward.

After you install it, there’s also turning it on, connecting it to your wifi, downloading the app and creating an account for yourself, that links to the thermostat. That was easy as well, but it took a little while.

All told, when everything was up and running and I understood how to use it, it probably took an hour. But, it’s one of those things where if I did it again for a friend, I bet I could get everything done in twenty minutes, now that I know exactly what to do.

Overall, the installation was very satisfactory, and only the least capable among us will need to pay a handyman to do it for them.

Ease of Use

It’s really neat. You control the thermostat by turning a ring around it, as well as using a button on the bottom to toggle between settings. It’s fun to use, and feels a little bit like using those old iPods. Remember those?

Things I like most so far: it tells you whether your temperature setting is energy efficient, and it also estimates the time it will take to cool to a certain temperature.

So, say for example, you just came home and you turn the A/C from 81 degrees down to 75 degrees. The nest will tell you that you’ll reach your target temperature in 30 minutes. That’s pretty nice to know, so you won’t get too impatient.

Also, I love the schematic that shows you exactly what temperature you’re at right now, so you can judge whether you’re on the hot or cool end of a cycle. For example, say you’ve been home for hours, and you feel like it’s getting a little hot. You approach the thermostat, and it’ll tell you it’s 78 degrees in the home, but that you have your setting to 75, so you know it’ll cycle on soon — you don’t need to adjust it, you were just at the warmest side of the cycle.

The out-of the-box ability to understand and use the Nest is excellent – I’m very pleased with the interface.

Appearance

Normally, I wouldn’t add a review category like this for a thermostat … but the Nest just looks so cool. Their designers should be proud.

From the LCD display, to the circular design, it really makes my hallway hipper. That little lift I get when going past it is worth something – it must be.

Also, if you’re thinking of the re-sale value of your condo, particularly if you’re selling within the next year or two, the Nest will sleek up your unit.

It’s one of those small fixes that appeals to buyers way beyond the actual value of the product – honestly, as a buyer, if you have an hour, and $250 (or less, depending on rebates), you can buy and install one yourself. But if it’s already there, it increases your perception of the home’s value well beyond that.

Summing Up

So far I’m quite happy with the Nest Thermostat. Circle back in a couple of months for my review of the product’s AI, which includes its ability to send me a report of my energy usage, it’s autoprogram function, as well as it’s ability to tell if I’m in the home and adjust the temperature accordingly.

Author My First Apartment
Alex Starace

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Alex Starace and his wife own a condo in Chicago. Alex enjoys basketball, biking and jazz. His writing also appears regularly in My First Apartment, South Florida Opulence and TriQuarterly.

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