Are you debating whether to have a smart thermostat fitted? Then read on to find out whether it’s worth buying a Nest thermostat as I look into how the technology works and how much it could save you.
Reducing the amount of energy you use has 2 great benefits – it helps reduce the impact on the environment and lowers your gas or electricity bill. There are plenty of ways to reduce heating bills, some are simple and require little in the way of cost. Others, such as solar panels, cost more but can save you extra in the long run.
And one of the easiest ways to reduce your energy consumption is by installing a smart thermostat.
Is Nest worth it? – 10 second conclusion
Once installed, this is a simple piece of kit to use and will make your life easier. When it comes to money-saving, it will take most users around 3 years (not including installation) before they make their money back.
What is a smart thermostat?
A smart thermostat is a device that replaces your traditional thermostat. Using WiFi, it allows you to control your heating (and possibly your hot water) through a smartphone, tablet or computer.
How does the Nest work?
The Nest thermostat uses learning technology to figure out how best to heat your home. Within a few weeks, Nest can create an auto-schedule to manage your heating. It soon realises the temperature you like when you’re at home and will turn itself off when you’re out.
You can set your own schedule through the app on your phone or the website.
Having your own schedule means you can have complete control of how hot it is in your home at any given time. And Nest will soon learn how long it takes for your home to reach your preferred temperature. For example, if you like it to be a lovely 20 degrees at 8 in the morning, Nest will work out what time it needs to come on to hit that temperature. And if it happens to be colder one morning, Nest will know to come on earlier. Equally, on warmer mornings, it will come on later.
Because the heat only comes on when needed, it reduces the amount wasted. In turn, that reduces your heating bills.
But having an app on your phone might not appeal if, like my parents, you only use your mobile for emergencies. If that’s the case, you can just use the main unit instead.
Another benefit is that although the thermostat is wired into your wall, the head unit can be moved and carried around. Or just placed in a separate room of your choice.
If you have a separate hot water tank in your home, Nest can be linked to this too. This allows you to get the water ready for your bath or shower directly from your phone.
How much does a Nest thermostat cost?
The 3rd generation Nest thermostat (the latest model) was originally released at a cost of £219. However, many retailers sell it for around £179 now. Occasionally, you can find it even cheaper during sales, especially around Black Friday.
2nd generation units are harder to find now. However, new models sell on eBay for around £149, whilst second-hand will set you back at around £100.
Any other costs?
You will need to consider paying for installation. Fitting the thermostat unit itself isn’t a particularly difficult job and can be completed by most competent DIYers. However, you also need to fit the Heat Link device that will need to be attached to your boiler. I wouldn’t recommend messing with your boiler electrics unless you really know what you’re doing. But there are plenty of guides available on YouTube if you fancy giving it a go.
In the early days, you could pay Nest directly for installation and they would arrange for a professional to visit. Now, you can enter your postcode and Nest will tell you all the installers close to you. You can then contact them for a price. Generally, expect to pay £50-£100.
There are no monthly subscription costs to run your Nest. But if you don’t plan to leave the thermostat on the wall, you may want to consider purchasing a stand. The official one costs around £30 from Amazon, although you can find cheaper versions for half the price.
Benefits – why the Nest thermostat is worth it
Save on heating costs – In the US, Nest published a white paper, which concluded that users saved around 10%-12% per year on their heating costs. In the UK, the average gas bill is estimated to be £557 per year. So, you should be able to save roughly £60 off your annual heating bill.
Encourages you to ‘go green’ – Nest makes it easy to see if you’ve chosen an energy-saving temperature when programming your thermostat. A green leaf symbol will appear, giving you that smug feeling that you’re saving the planet… and money
No subscription costs – unlike some smart technologies, there are no subscription costs. So once you’re up and running, you don’t have to worry about paying out any further.
Easy to use – this is technology that anyone can use. The app just takes a couple of minutes to get to grips with, whilst the main thermostat requires little else than turning. Because Nest learns by itself, you have to do very little.
Works with Alexa – if you can’t be bothered to dig out your phone, just tell Alexa that you want the temperature changed and it will be done for you.
Allows multiple users – this is ideal for families, especially if you’re coming and going. You can install the Nest app on multiple phones so the thermostat knows when the house is occupied.
Control from anywhere – if you know you’re going to be home in a little while and fancy coming back to a warm house, you can crank the heating up. Or turn it down when you’re at work and the rest of family are having dinner. This function is also useful if you have a separate water tank and need the hot water turned on.
History – if you don’t have a smart meter installed, you can check your Nest history to see how long your heating has been on over the last couple of weeks.
It looks great! – okay, so not everyone cares about this. But it certainly looks far better than those boring old units. And as you approach, it senses you and turns on.
Links to other Google products – Nest also produces some rather nifty smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. These can be linked to your thermostat, giving you greater control in your home.
Negatives – why the Nest thermostat isn’t worth it
Slow(ish) to make your money back – this is more of a long-term investment. It will take the average home at least 3 years to see a return for their outlay.
Connection issues – although technology is here to make our lives easier, it’s not without its problems. Because Nest relies on a network to connect its different parts, you can sometimes face issues when one bit refuses to play ball. On the odd occasion, my heating has failed to turn off, even though Nest thinks it has done so. This leads to a house close to 30 degrees!
Cheaper options out there – there are several smart thermostats on the market and Nest is one of the more expensive choices. The Hive thermostat, which offers almost the same functions, can often be found slightly cheaper than the Nest. You can see my thoughts as I compare Nest vs Hive.
What other people think
I always like to take a look at other people’s opinions online when writing my reviews. In general, the Nest thermostat is quite warmly regarded (pardon the pun). However, the company as a whole doesn’t receive such a good reception. In fact, it scores a bad 1.2 out of 5 on Trustpilot. The main gripe from users is the support (or lack of) from Google when anything went wrong.
Nest 2nd generation vs 3rd generation
You may be wondering what the difference is between the 3rd generation Nest and older models… except for the increase in price. Well, the 3rd generation can be linked to boilers with separate hot water tanks. That means you can turn on the hot water from any device that has the Nest app installed. Older generations only control the heating. So, if you have a combi boiler, it doesn’t matter so much about the Nest model you choose.
Other noticeable differences include the 3rd generation having a slightly bigger screen which gives it a higher resolution, even though the thermostat isn’t any bigger. In fact, the 3rd generation model is actually slightly slimmer.
Behind the scenes, there are some more subtle changes that aren’t as easy to notice.
- Automatic Adjustments – Nest keeps an eye on the weather outside and will change its heating programme if there’s a sudden change in temperature.
- Farsight – This will show you information such as time, weather or temperature from across the room in a large format.
- Safety Alerts – If your home gets too hot or cold, Nest will alert you.
- Sunblock – If the sun shining on your Nest is affecting the home temperature, the thermostat will notice this and adjust the temperature accordingly.
My Nest review conclusion
So, is the Nest thermostat worth it? For me, it’s a definite yes. Not only does it look great on my wall, it helps save money on my heating bills. Yes, there’s been the odd technical hitch, but this hasn’t been common. Although I’m probably fortunate that I haven’t needed to contact support after reading other people’s experiences.