How the Nest Learning Thermostat Works

Nest Features: Saving Energy

The Nest display tells you how long it will take for your home to reach the desired temperature.
The Nest display tells you how long it will take for your home to reach the desired temperature.
Image courtesy of Nest Labs

The following Nest features are designed to appeal to consumers interested in saving energy:

  • Nest uses various inputs to observe your day-to-day routine and uses them to maintain your HVAC schedule automatically, based on what it learns. (The company calls this Nest Sense technology. We'll cover it in more detail later.)
  • Nest creates an auto-away mode based on what it's learned. This sets a temperature for minimal HVAC activity when you're not in the building. You can also set an away mode manually if you wish.
  • While it's actively heating or cooling, Nest displays an estimated time for the system to reach the desired temperature.
  • Nest displays a green leaf any time the thermostat is running at energy-saving settings. This can help teach you to make energy-saving decisions. For example, if Nest has learned that you typically run your AC until the house is 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23.3 Celsius), you could turn up the temperature until you see the green leaf to save energy. The leaf will always appear at cooling settings of 84 degrees Fahrenheit (28.9 Celsius) or higher and heating settings of 62 degrees Fahrenheit (16.7 Celsius) or lower, but its threshold will change based on your habits.
  • Nest lets you know what activity (between auto-away, your own adjustments and the weather) resulted in the greatest energy savings throughout the day.
  • Nest uses WiFi to connect to your account at This feature allows you to monitor and adjust the Nest remotely from the Web site.
  • Nest supports a mobile app available for Apple iOS devices (iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad) and Android devices. The app turns your mobile device into a remote control for your Nest.
  • You can add Nest to any number of thermostats in a multi-thermostat building. They will work alongside other thermostats, but note that each of Nest's energy-saving features only applies to the rooms in its sensor range and to the HVAC components it controls.
  • A Nest account can manage up to 10 Nest devices, whether they're in the same building or at multiple locations.

As we've noted, Nest offers tech-savvy users options for manually programming the thermostat. However, Nest was developed for users who'd rather just turn the dial when necessary. For that probable majority, Nest's VP of Technology, Yoky Matsuoka, offers these tips for teaching your Nest to save energy.

Next, let's take a closer look at the Nest Sense technology.