Nest Labs—makers of arguably the smartest thermostat on the planet—just added a new feature to the host of tools that help save customers money. The Nest thermostat already ‘learns’ the behavior patterns of a household and works to adjust its own settings for optimal performance. Now, Nest’s new “Time of Savings” feature enables the thermostat to save even more money for customers whose energy utility offers a Time of Use (TOU) rate plan. Under those circumstances, Nest can learn the price of energy and automatically adjust itself to help customers use less energy when prices are highest, trimming utility bills month after month.
Many utility companies across the United States offer TOU and Tiered Pricing rate plans, and most customers probably don’t what kind of rate plan they are enrolled in. With TOU plans, which are becoming more popular across the country, energy prices will be highest during the times of the day when the most people are drawing from the grid. In many areas, that is typically non-holiday weekdays from 3pm to 8pm, give or take an hour.
With the Time of Savings feature, Nest customers will see smaller utility bills after the thermostat learns to cut back on usage by a degree or two during those peak periods. Nest customers have to sign up to activate the feature and share their utility rates with the Nest system, but after that point, the thermostat does all the work. A little green gear on the display lets you know it’s saving money.
In addition to this new feature, Nest is rolling out another perk that some folks will find rather exciting. SolarCity customers can snag a Nest Thermostat at no cost by adopting solar power for their residence or business. The 3rd generation Nest retails for $249, so that’s a nice little bonus for customers who are already shelling out their hard-earned cash to install a home solar power system.
Nest’s partnership with SolarCity is the first where Time of Savings will be offered to customers, and Nest is working with other utility companies to expand the program. This may be especially helpful to customers in southern California, where the state’s utilities commission has ordered major utility companies to switch residential customers to TOU plans by 2019. “This means millions of California homes will be billed for energy differently in just a few years,” Ben Bixby, Nest’s director of energy and enterprise business. “Working with our energy partners, we designed Time of Savings to help customers manage these changing pricing schedules and make it easy for them to use less energy without sacrificing comfort.”
Images via Nest