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October 27, 2011

The Future of the Thermostat Has Arrived

You can describe it as a thermostat with the design of an iPod. It's called Nest, and it will likely revolutionize thermostats, because it's a programmable thermostat that programs itself. This is a big deal, considering that ninety percent of programmable thermostats are rarely programmed at all despite their effectiveness in reducing energy bills.

So how does a Nest work? Well, besides the fact that you'll be able to control the thermostat from your smart phone, the technology behind it will learn your behavioral patterns and adjust itself on its own:

Nest's staff of 100, mostly mobile phone engineers, have developed an algorithm that they say "learns" a household's activity patterns and automatically adjusts the temperature accordingly to save energy, lowering heating and cooling temperatures when occupants are away for extended periods of time. The "Auto Away" feature uses motion sensors to detect the presence and absence of occupants.

Another cardinal feature of Nest's Learning Thermostat is the Leaf, a green leaf icon that appears on the thermostat every time the user manually switches the device's temperature to a more energy-efficient setting, either using the dial on the outside or remotely from anywhere via a smartphone or tablet app. The goal is to subtly train people to be more energy efficient.

-- Brian Foley

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