Nest Has a New Way to Help You Save Money on Energy


Smart home firm Nest wants to help you save energy.

Nest's new "Time of Savings" platform for the Learning Thermostat determines when energy costs are highest in the user's particular area, and adapts usage during those periods to help customers save cash.

At the heart of Time of Savings is how energy is charged to consumers. As Nest director of energy business Ben Bixby notes, utilities companies don't charge a flat fee all day. Instead, they might charge higher rates during summer afternoons, as rates on electricity can vary depending on the time of day and whether it's a weekend or weekday. Time of Savings aims to understand an electric company's rates and keep Nest usage to a minimum when they're up.

"Sign up for the program and your energy company will share your electricity rates with Nest," Bixby writes. "Then your Nest Learning Thermostat will try to use less electricity when it's most expensive. Simple. So if your thermostat sees that you like to cool things down at noon, but that's when electricity prices spike, it might start cooling the house at 11:30 when energy's still cheap. Or it can slightly adjust the temperature when you're in peak pricing periods – never more than a degree or two – so you can save some cash while staying comfortable."

When Time of Savings is turned on, Nest owners will see a green gear on their thermostat. However, users can still modify the temperature from their app or thermostat, if they wish. It's also worth noting that the feature only works with electric heating and cooling equipment.

Nest is launching Time of Savings with SolarCity, a solar energy provider available in 20 states and Washinton, D.C. But it's "also working with Southern California Edison and other energy partners to bring Time of Savings to more customers in the future," Bixby said.

The news comes amidst a rather tumultuous time for Nest, which just lost co-founder Tony Fadell.

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