Using The Nest Smart Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation
The Nest is so simple to use and so easy to navigate, it could very well be the best thermostat on the market today. The display is very vibrant, easy to read, and the round dial makes it very easy to navigate through the menu system.
On the main dashboard or menu system, the scheduling area is within easy reach. You can see when the next scheduled action item is set for and what the thermostat will be doing at that time. You can click (or push in the dial) to go into the scheduler to see how it’s setup or make modifications to it.
Daily energy reports are also available the following day and shows how many hours the system ran for a given day. You’ll earn “leafs” for the days that it does not run very long and these leaves will be collected into a home report for viewing later.
Nest iOS Application Overview
Nest Sense Smart Features
Being a “Smart Learning Thermostat” Nest includes several smart learning features to help you both save money and energy costs but also to make your home more comfortable. The energy savings with Nest has been said to be up to 20% which can make a huge impact on your power bill. I’ll be looking to save anywhere from $200 – $270 per year on my energy costs of my home, which nearly or will pay for the thermostat in a year. Most consumers can see the Nest pay for itself within only a couple years or less depending on your existing heating and cooling systems and electricity rates.
Farsight displays information in a large and easy to read format when you are viewing your Nest Thermostat display from across the room. Nest has a built-in presence sensor that will detect you up to 20 feet away and begin displaying the target temperature, a digital clock or an analog clock or if you prefer, nothing at all.
If you begin walking even closer to your Nest, within 3 feet it will automatically switch to show you your current home temperature and set temperature if you have the target temperature set. If you have the analog or digital clock set as the option, it will also display the date once you reach 3 feet.
Here is a quick video demonstration of the complete settings on the Nest Learning Thermostat;
Below are some of the primary features of the Nest that will help save you on energy costs and also some of my favorite features of the Nest.
Nest Leaf Feature
Let’s start off with the basic and that’s the Nest Leaf. You’ll see the Nest Leaf displayed in a number of fashions throughout the settings and configuration options of the Nest thermostat. Anytime you see the leaf you will know that you are saving energy and thus saving money. Nest will also automatically count up all of your leafs for a given month and include this count in your Home Report. Highly expensive power bill one month? Check your home report to see if you could have done more to save energy.
So what is this setting? It’s actually a nice feature that will automatically display the number of minutes it will take for your home to heat up or cool down to the desired temperature setting. This will easily show homeowners that cranking up the temperature won’t warm the home any quicker but will actually take even longer to reach the desired temperature, thus saving you money by knowing this.
Nest Airwave Feature
This is probably one of the more interesting features that I found with the Nest and it makes a lot of sense. Your air conditioner has two parts; the compressor which uses a lot of electricity but also generates the cool air and then you also have the fan which blows the cool air out of your vents but uses very little electricity.
Traditional thermostats will run the air conditioner and when the temperature is reached both the condenser and the fan will turn off. When in fact the compressor coils can generate cold air for another 5-10 minutes after the compressor has been turned off.
Airwave takes advantage of this fact and will turn off your AC compressor right before your home reaches its desired temperature but will keep your fan running until your home reaches that desired temperature.
Airwave does not do this for a set duration but instead, it has the ability to learn exactly how much cooling can be done with the compressor off in your home which will vary based on humidity levels and your cooling system. For Airwave to activate, your humidity levels must be below a certain level and it will automatically be calculated for your home.
Nest Sunblock Feature
According to Nest, nearly 60% of thermostats are exposed to direct sunlight throughout the year which causes them to read up to 25°F higher than the actual temperature in the room. This can cause your AC to cool the home when it shouldn’t be or your heat not to come on when it should.
With Sunblock, Nest utilizes its built-in light sensor to track the sun’s patterns and then its temperature sensor to detect heat spikes in relation to the sun’s position. When Nest is connected to the Internet it will also utilize weather information like when the sunrises and sunsets at your zip code to help it understand the patterns more.
When Sunblock is active and working, you should see a little shining sun icon appear on the display where the Nest Leaf would appear. My thermostat is installed in a hallway where its impossible to have direct sunlight but I left in enabled just in case.
Nest Cool to Dry Feature
With Cool-To-Dry, Nest will use your AC to reduce excessive humidity and help create a healthier environment in your home.
Living in high humidity areas can cause moisture in the air and eventually cause mold to grown in your home, especially while you are away and your AC is off. Cool To Dry can be used with any AC but works differently depending on your AC and whether or not it has a dehumidification mode.
The easiest way to tell if your air conditioner has a dehumidification mode is to look up the model on the manufacturer’s website. A wire connected to your dehumidification system is required for your Nest Thermostat to control it. But just because your thermostat has a DEHUM or dehumidifier wire connected to it doesn’t mean that your air conditioner has a dehumidification mode. The wire could connect to a standalone dehumidifier that is separate from your air conditioner.
If your AC does not support DEHUM or does not have a dehumidifier mode, you can still use Cool to Dry and here’s how it works per Nest;
Your air conditioner chills air by passing it over refrigerated coils. These coils also take the humidity out of the air and turn it into water, which condenses on the coils. In other words, hot humid air goes in, and cold dry air comes out. Taking advantage of this, Cool to Dry lowers humidity without the help of a dehumidifier by cycling the AC on and off.
When the Nest Learning Thermostat senses very high humidity, Cool to Dry automatically turns on the AC to lower the humidity to healthy levels. To achieve this, Cool to Dry may cool beyond the temperatures you set. If used with an AC that doesn’t have a dehumidification mode, it may cool up to 5ºF lower than what’s set for your schedule or Away temperatures.
Now remember for this to work, your AC must be cycled on and off. This means running the compressor which uses a lot of electricity. It may not be cost effective to leave this feature turned on if your AC does not already have a dehumidification setting or feature. The only situation where you might want to turn Cool to Dry on would be when you are away for extended periods of time, like on vacation and your home is in a humid environment.
Nest Early-On Feature
With this setting, your Nest will begin heating or cooling your home more quickly so that your home reaches a scheduled target temperature right on time. It takes into account the weather also to do this along with understanding how long it takes your home to heat or cool down to temperatures you want. It continues to learn even if something changes.
Here’s what Nest has to say about this feature;
With our improved learning algorithms, the Nest Thermostat can more precisely control your system depending on the current weather, what the forecast is for the next few hours, and how warm it is in your home. With this improved data, Early-On can begin heating up to 5 hours before a scheduled temperature (it used to be limited to 2 hours). For instance, if your home is slow to heat up, this helps your thermostat meet your scheduled temperature on time, maximizes energy savings, and maintains the temperature you set.
Nest True Radiant Feature
Traditional forced air heating systems push warm air through vents which gets to temperatures quickly. Radiant systems while are more efficient, can take much longer to heat up or cool down. Since it takes so long for radiant systems to heat up its very difficult to setup scheduled temperatures.
With True Radiant, Nest will ensure that your home heats to your schedule without guessing on when to begin heating your home because it learns and knows and will take care of the rest for you.
Nest will learn how long it takes your radiant system to heat up so it will turn on at the right scheduled time to reach your target temperature right on time. It will also ensure to turn the system off at the right time too, saving you valuable energy and money.
Nest Heat Pump Balance Feature
This is probably one of the biggest energy saving features that I have identified with the Nest thermostat, if you have a heat pump that is. With Heat Pump Balance, Nest will choose how much expensive auxiliary heat to use based on your comfort or savings needs.
Heat pumps are very efficient compared to other heating systems but they can sometimes take longer to heat your home, especially the colder it gets outside. To combat this, heat pumps are sometimes paired with powerfully auxiliary (AUX) heat which is much less efficient but will turn on when the heat pump alone isn’t keeping up or working fast enough.
Auxiliary heat will cost you anywhere from 2 – 5 times as much as your normal heat pump heating so whenever you can reduce its usage, you are going to save big time on your power bill.
Traditional thermostats have one way to control the usage of auxiliary heat and that’s with a lockout temperature. For example, the lockout temp could be configured for 40°F and then if the outside temperature drops below this, the auxiliary heat will turn on to heat your home along with your heat pump.
With the Nest Heat Pump Balance feature you don’t need to configure or even worry about the AUX lockout temperature, Nest will take care of all this for you.
So how does Heat Pump Balance work and how is it utilized to save you energy? Nest will use current weather information and weather forecasting to minimize the usage of AUX heat. Because AUX heat is very expensive, Nest found that its cheaper to run the heat pump longer than using AUX heat so it will automatically turn the heat on early to reduce AUX heat usage as much as possible. It will even turn the heat pump on as much as 5 hours before the scheduled temperature if necessary, while still saving you money.
Below are the Heat Pump Balance settings and what each setting does for you;
- Max Savings – This is the best setting for saving energy. In Max Savings mode, the Nest Thermostat gives the heat pump more time to get to your target temperature before turning on AUX and sets a lower AUX lockout temp.
- Balanced – This setting will give the heat pump more time to work, but will still turn AUX on quickly if it looks like it won’t get you to your target temperature on time. Balanced has an AUX lockout temp somewhere between Max Comfort and Max Savings.
- Max Comfort – When you choose Max Comfort, the Nest Thermostat will make sure you’ll get to the temperature you want, even if it means using auxiliary heat. Max Comfort is the default setting for Heat Pump Balance and generally gives you a higher AUX lockout temp.
- Off – You can also turn Heat Pump Balance off entirely and adjust your AUX lockout temperature yourself. The AUX lockout temperature can be changed in SETTINGS > EQUIPMENT > HEAT PUMP.
Another interesting feature of the Heat Pump Balance is the NIGHTTIME HEAT which may sometimes be displayed on its screen. When you see this, the Nest has calculated that it can save additional energy be temporarily increasing the temperature in your home slightly while you sleep so that it can get your morning temperature using less or even no expensive AUX heating.
How do you ensure the setting is enabled? You must turn it on and select the setting your wish but you also must have it connected to Wi-Fi. If it isn’t connected to Wi-Fi you can also use Early-On instead but it won’t take specific measures to avoid expensive AUX heating.
in all, I am very pleased with the range of features with the Nest Thermostat. It has a lot of interesting ways to save energy that I never would have thought of before and I’m certain my old dumb down thermostat had no idea about since it lacked a brain. It will be interesting to see my next power bill to see how much I’m saving.
Read on to the next page and we’ll conclude our review and give you my final thoughts on the Nest 3rd Generation Thermostat!