Nest Learning Thermostat: First thoughts

By | December 21, 2011

I got my Nest Learning Thermostat yesterday, and have had a chance to play around with it and the web app for remotely monitoring and controlling the settings.  I’ll probably do a product review later.

But I’d like to post an open letter to Nest with one comment or request.

Make it Social!

Now, I can’t believe those words came out of my keyboard. I’m the guy who is constantly saying “No, not everything is social”. And at first glance, I’d say “Your thermostat isn’t social”.

But guess what is social? Friendly competition.

Just as with Hypermilers, each one out to show how many more miles per gallon they can squeeze out of their hybrids, people who buy the Nest are likely to be proud of how they are saving energy, and might like a way to “humble brag” about it.

So consider this request:

  • Allow users of your web-app to publish links to their data. Energy consumption estimates, savings estimates can all be shared through the web site.
  • Allow owners to grab the data directly using a simple API via CURL or another open standard.

Just as with SETI@home, you will find people digging in to ways to save money, publish data, and generally do good things due to their competitive nature. All the while, driving more eyeballs to your product.

A perfect addition to the product family would be a simple data logger for power consumption. These already exist in other forms, with a simple non-invasive power monitor that goes on your breaker box or at the main power meter to the house. Connect that power usage data to the HVAC data, and start getting really good data for the user, and make it ~simple~ and easy to use, in line with your design ethic.

Get people competitive about saving energy. They’ll spend money to save money, especially if they can brag about it.

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