Nest Learning Thermostat: Everything you need to know

Nest Thermostat review

The Nest Learning Thermostat injects a lot of smarts into your home.

You can control the Nest thermostat from home or away through your smartphone or tablet. Nest will shut off your heating and cooling system once step out your front door.

It becomes a virtual assistant of sorts, quickly adopting your schedule, and learning your preferred temperature settings.

The rest of your family won’t be left out in the cold, either.

Nest thermostats allow people in the same household to set up their own Nest accounts.


Once the accounts are created, the Home/Away Assist will know who is currently home and accommodate those people. How? It detects a person’s smartphone once they are in the house.

The idea here is simple: let’s say a husband is home and the wife is off at work. The favorite temperature setting for the husband is being followed. When the husband runs out for groceries, the wife comes home. The Nest responds by adjusting to desired temperature set up in the wife’s profile.

The Nest thermostat pretty much figures you out. It doesn’t need coddling. You just need to answer a few questions when you set it up.

If you happen to leave on a Saturday afternoon to run errands for a couple hours, the Nest goes into auto-away mode. That option alone saves you a significant amount of energy – and money – over time.

When you’re at home, you can also control Nest Thermostat simply by using your voice. You can connect it to a Google Assistant and Google Home.

Or you can connect it with an Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Amazon Tap or Echo Dot. I’ll get into more detail about to connect with those devices below.

NVIDIA SHIELD TV to become compatible with Nest Learning Thermostat

The Nest thermostat is about to get a lot more attention in 2017 from NVIDIA SHIELD TV fans intent on tapping into the game console’s new smart home features.

NVIDIA is expected to release the NVIDIA Spot, which uses Google Assistant to respond to smart home devices.

The main benefit of a Nest thermostat can be appreciated by any gamer.

Let’s say you were hanging out in your man cave downstairs, but knew your wife was coming home. You could say something like, “Change the upstairs thermostat to 72 degrees” while never taking your eyes away from the screen.


Back to the important work of Mass Effect: Andromeda.

Oh by the way, aside from bringing some futuristic aspects to something as bland as your HVAC system, the Nest thermostat will even save you money.

What is a smart thermostat?

A smart thermostat is essentially a small computer that operates the heating and cooling system in your home.

The software with Nest appears to be a customized version of Linux. You will be connecting just about any smart thermostat you use to your home WiFi network.

Nest Labs is a Google-owned smart home company. The first-generation of Nest Learning Thermostat hit the market in 2012, and competitors like Echobee3, Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat and Honeywell Lyric have followed.

Smart thermostats like the Nest are able to “learn” about you and your home once it’s installed.


The thermostat figures out on its own what temperatures you like, and when you like to have your home warmer or cooler.

Nest’s built-in sensors can track where you are in the home. It also knows when you’re usually away from home on a day-to-day basis.

The Farsight feature lets you see the thermostat’s “target temperature” or current time in either analog or digital mode. So you will be able to read the display easily from across a large room.

When software improvements for a Nest thermostat are released, they are delivered to all three generations of the device. That’s makes it future-proof for the consumer.

So you’re not put in a position of having the plunk down more money just to have the latest thermostat six months or a couple years after you buy one. Nest also makes Wi-Fi enabled smoke detectors and home security systems, which can be hooked into a common network.

How to set up Nest Thermostat

Set up is simple and takes about 10 minutes.  I am not a HVAC professional so I am just going to refer you to the detailed tutorial from Nest.

Here’s my one pro tip: Be sure to power off your heating and cooling system before you begin installation.

The Nest Thermostat comes with pretty much everything you need to install yourself right in the box. There’s a detailed instruction manual, and comes with its own screwdriver that has Phillips and flathead fittings. Two mounting screws, a wall plate, level and mount are included in the box.

Stickers are provided in the set-up kit as well so you can label wires, and not lose track of which wires go where.

Once you have the thermostat set in the wall, you will notice the display power on.

It has a built in battery that serves as a backup for all your settings. After about 30 seconds of booting up, the display will ask for some information from you.

Make sure the Nest does a software update. Some people skip over doing updates, but I encourage you not to.

The setup process will go quicker than you think. The stainless steel dial turns left and right. Use the dial to scroll through options on the menu and press the dial to make a selection.

You will be asked to verify your zip code, what type of home you’re in, and where the thermostat is located in the house. The Nest will also ask about what kind of heating and cooling system you have. It works with numerous systems including forced-air systems and radiators.

You won’t be restricted to programming your temperature settings at the thermostat. You will be able to use your computer, and apps that are compatible with iPhones and Android devices.

How do I use voice control with Nest thermostat?

To set up with Google Home, you can follow these instructions. You will basically just need to verify your account, and go to the devices tab to add the thermostat shown. There will be a couple more steps that the Nest will require you to go through. You will also have to verify with your Nest account that you are connecting to your Google Home unit.

There are also a number of Amazon devices that work with Nest. Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Amazon Tap or Echo Dot make up the list of compatible devices.

Nest provides simple instructions for setting up with these devices as well. But basically, all Amazon products are using the same Alexa voice technology. You need to enable the Nest Smart Home Skill with the Alexa app.

Then you just need to ask Alexa, “Alexa, discover my devices.” And you’re pretty much done. Amazon also has its own set of instructions for connecting your Amazon device with a Nest thermostat.

How to use Alexa with Nest

If you’re not already a user of Amazon Alexa, you should know that you often will need to be specific about what you say. You’ll need to make sure you are using specific names of locations so it can carry out the proper task you have in mind.

One reason for doing this: Some people have more than one thermostat in their home. So the system needs to be able to differentiate between say, the living room Nest, and the bedroom one.

Saying “Alexa, change the Hallway to 65 degrees,” will work fine. If you were to add the name thermostat to that phrase, then it won’t work. You can also say things like, “Alexa, lower the downstairs by 5 degrees,” or “Alexa, raise the downstairs by 4 degrees.”

What features does Nest Thermostat have?

There are a number of advanced features that the Nest Thermostat has, which you will learn more about as you begin using it. Here are a few highlights worth knowing about in advance. These are not all of the advanced features included in a Nest 3.0 thermostat.

Eco Temperatures (formerly Auto-Away): This is probably the best feature on a Nest Thermostat. The Nest automatically adjusts heating and cooling in your home based on whether you are actually home. You will have already set minimum and maximum temperatures for summer and winter alike. And you can turn off this feature if you want. But I wouldn’t because it can save you money, especially while heating a home in winter.

Auto-Schedule: How is the Nest so smart? Auto-Schedule is partly the answer. It figures out your routines and adjusts temperatures in your home accordingly.

Early-On: This is the part of the Nest’s brain that knows when to turn on so that it will achieve an optimum temperature geared just for you at a certain point in the day. For example, if you got to spend a one-hour lunch break at home every Wednesday, the Early-On feature would know when to kick into gear to get your home at the preferred 72 degrees you like before you arrive at high noon. Let’s face it: you don’t think this deeply about setting the temp in your home.

Time-to-Temp: Complimenting the Early-On feature, Time-to-Temp figures out how long it takes to heat up or cool your particular home. This is partially based on the internal and external temperature.

Furnace Heads-Up: This is for homes with a forced-air furnace system. This is primarily a safety feature, and a very good one to have. The Heads-up tracks when a forced-air furnace automatically shuts off to prevent overheating. You will get an alert through your Nest app and on the thermostat screen if there’s a potential issue.

Cool to Dry: You will be able to use your air conditioning system as a dehumidifier, which can make you a lot more comfortable during humid weather. Again, the Nest is thinking more than you are because it’s factoring in the internal humidity level of the home through its sensors. You’re not doing that.

When is Nest Thermostat 4th generation coming out?

You shouldn’t expect to see a 4th generation Nest Thermostat anytime soon.

Here’s why.

Nest is not on a yearly release cycle. The first generation Nest thermostat was released on Oct. 25, 2011. The second generation was released a year later on Oct. 2, 2012. But three years passed before the third generation Nest came out in Sept. 1, 2015.

There are a number of smart products that seem to rely more frequently on software updates than hardware updates.

The Nest blog suggests that the company will keep improving its thermostats more frequently with software updates than hardware updates. These updates are generally applied to all three generations of Nest thermostats.

In February 2017, the 3rd generation Nest received an ENERGY STAR certification from the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to Nest, independent studies have shown that the Nest Thermostat has saved people an average of 10 percent to 12 percent on heating bills and 15 percent on cooling bills. In under two years, the thermostat can pay for itself.

Is Nest thermostat worth it?

There’s no doubt that upgrading your thermostat can save money. The Nest takes things a bit further by working as a virtual assistant. It’s especially helpful with the auto-away feature because it’s dealing with your home heating system properly so you don’t have to think about it.

How many times have you forgotten to turn the head down after dashing out of the house? Never again. The Nest has you covered. Being able to control your Nest while your away from home via a smartphone app is also a big plus when it comes to cutting costs whether it’s air conditioning or heating.

Of course, the caveat here is that you actually have to use the features that Nest offers and don’t turn them off.

The Nest also takes away all of the nightmarish tasks of programming a thermostat. Set up is really easy. And if you’ve ever installed a router in your house, the Nest won’t be that much more difficult. Hooking up the wires isn’t that intimidating so long as you follow the easy-to-follow instructions.

The Nest company estimates that the thermostat will pay for itself in about two years. Believe it or not, your local utility company may help you with the expense of buying one. Contact your local utility company to see if there’s an energy saving rebate for installing a Nest in your home. Many companies provide such rebates for Wi-Fi thermostats. You’re not the only one looking to cut back on usage this year.

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