Nest just announced a second-generation version of its slick, smart and Apple-esque thermostat. (Nest is founded by Apple alum and iPhone designer Tony Fadell.)
Lowering the costs of home heating and AC usage is what programmable thermostats can do if they are used correctly. Heating and cooling is the low-hanging energy fruit in a home.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based Nest thermostat detects outside and inside temperatures and occupancy patterns and can potentially save an average of $173 on an annual electric bill for roughly a two-year payback. Homes would save that same 20 percent if they used a conventional programmable thermostat — but according to Nest, only 11 percent of owners use their thermostat correctly. Nest automates the process with some wireless data crunching and sensors.
One modification on the thermostat is cosmetic: the round is thinner. Changes in the backplate have improved compatibility. And functional changes allow the thermostat to distinguish between radiant heat systems, heat pumps, and forced air, with a thermostat profile optimized for each system type. Multiple-stage heating and cooling was addressed. Sensors were improved.
The new unit is priced at $249, while the older inventory has been priced to move at $229.
The New York Times quoted a spokesperson for the 136-employee Nest as having sold “in the mid-hundreds of thousands” of units.
In a briefing last week, Nest spokespeople would not provide details on unit sales or on the startup’s Series C funding round.
We reported on deregulated Texas utility AC Reliant giving away free Nest thermostats. The company claimed that with Texas AC on full blast, the Nest paid for itself over one season.