Can a product be green and sexy? The originator of the Apple iPod thought so, and set out to make a thermostat that was so sleek consumers would want to show it off.
Nest is the brainchild of Tony Fadell, the person who brought the idea of the iPod to Steve Jobs. The $230 Nest device is essentially an easy-to-use, programmable thermostat that can be controlled remotely on a smartphone. But the real innovation of the Nest thermostat is that the designers addressed several HVAC problems in a single product.
It does not require a separate power line or replaceable batteries (it survives on a trickle charge on existing thermostat control lines). Users can install it in minutes. And unlike other big, rectangular programmable models on the market, Nest’s rotary design fits neatly in the same spot as old mercury-filled thermostats. Best of all, it learns a household’s heating and cooling patterns, and then automatically adjusts the temperature accordingly, saving owners as much as 20 to 30 percent off their heating and cooling costs.
The company launched its second-generation $250 model this fall, slimming down and adding support for a wider variety of energy-efficient heating systems. Look for this company to expand into other related product categories next year, and possibly finally break open the DIY home automation market.