Although it's only been available to buy in the US and Canada so far, the Nest Learning Thermostat has already been installed in over 120 countries around the world. As of today, the market for its purchase is growing in number with the addition of the UK, where you'll be able to buy the home automation device for £179 (or £249 with the recommended professional installation included).
The Learning Thermostat is, at its core, an app to smarten up your home's heating and cooling systems with just enough hardware to make the process viable and intuitive. In making the transition to the UK, it's had to add a new Heat Link component that attaches to your boiler at home and communicates to the Thermostat via either a wired or wireless connection. It's this extra piece of kit, which wasn't necessary in the North American territories, that delayed the Thermostat's European release. Nest also highly recommends using one of its certified engineers to complete the Heat Link installation. That will increase both the price and complexity of getting one in your home, but the company's confident that the ultimate savings from being more energy-efficient will make its product a worthwhile purchase.
"We're just getting started."
According to Nest, two-thirds of the average £1,342 energy bill in the UK go toward heating the home — a bigger proportion than even in the US, where keeping cool during the summer is just as big an issue as warmth in the winter — so there's ample opportunity for an intelligent thermostat to save people money. Nest's promise is to consolidate all your energy controls and tracking into a single, human-friendly interface. All the user will be required to do is input his or her preferred temperature, with the thermostat learning over time and making incremental adjustments (such as for seasons). Another part of the adaptation to the UK's preponderance of water boilers is that the Nest thermostat will now know to switch off the heating before the desired temperature is reached, accounting for the effects of the residual heat in the boiler.
Consolidating your energy controls and tracking into a single interface
Mobile apps and a web client allow you to remotely control and monitor the Nest thermostat, while monthly energy reports and so-called Nest Leafs — granted for choosing energy-optimal settings — add to the motivation of trying to save a little extra on your heating bill. A new stand is also being introduced today, which will be unique to the UK market. It costs £29 and isn't compatible with the North American Nest devices.
Matt Rogers, one of the two former Apple engineers that founded Nest in 2011, says that the UK launch is only the start and the company "will continue to aggressively expand throughout Europe." Nest has signed up npower as its first partner among local utility companies, though the company's ambitions are evidently much grander. Now that it's backed by the financial might of Google, there's no reason to doubt that the Nest Learning Thermostat will indeed be rolled out rapidly. Whether the company will be able to convince people in the long-term value of a smarter thermostat, however, is a question that only time can answer.