How smart WiFi thermostats and other smart devices save energy

Nest Thermostat (3rd Gen): 2-Minute Review

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Nest Thermostat App

Nest has always led the way when it comes to smart climate control at home.

Nest’s series of smart learning thermostats, first introduced in 2011, have set the standard for how intelligent comfort controls should function in the home.



Saves energy and makes life easier through its intelligent scheduling and automation.
Packed with more sensors than before, making it more accurate and adding to its intelligence.
Easy-to-read energy reports for the last 10 days and at the end of every month.
Remote control and monitoring through the app and online platform is easy and convenient.

Controlling it using the physical dial is a bit tedious and time consuming.
The app does not show long term energy usage data. You can only view usage information from the last ten days. If you want to compare usage over several months, you have to open the monthly energy reports and do the comparison yourself.


In its latest iteration of the Nest Learning Thermostat, the company has further solidified its position as the producer of equally beautiful and functional smart thermostats.

Combined with an app that puts control right into your smartphone, the Nest Thermostat creates one of the best all-round experiences for homeowners.

This is why we picked the Nest as our most intelligent WiFi thermostat.

Its intuitive functionality not only makes life easier for you, it saves you energy costs.

According to Nest, since 2011, its thermostats save homeowners between 10 and 15 percent on their heating and cooling bills.

With the third generation version, everything has been update with an eye towards optimal functionality and maximum energy savings.

In this comprehensive 2-minute review, we’ll dig deep into what the third-gen Nest thermostat provides.

We also lay out what to expect as a homeowner, including the good and the bad.

HVAC System Functionality

The Nest Thermostat is compatible with most low voltage (24v) systems. These include electric, gas and oil heating and cooling systems. It also works with heat pumps, geothermal systems, solar-powered HVACs and forced air systems.

Whether you have a single-stage, 2-stage or 3-stage heating and 1 or 2-stage cooling system, don’t worry, the Nest thermostat is compatible with all of them. Aside from the main system, the thermostat is also compatible with multi-speed fans, humidifiers and dehumidifiers.

For those with multi-zone heating systems, Nest allows centralized control of multiple thermostats set up in different rooms. These thermostats will even work together to maximize energy savings.

Nest provides a tool to check for compatibility on its checkout page. It will ask you to note all the different types of wires that your system uses. From that information, the tool will determine whether the Nest thermostat can pair up with your system. In some cases, you will be asked to snap a picture for a technician to look at.

As for the systems that are incompatible with the thermostat, the company lists the following variations.

• Systems with remote sensor wires that cannot be connected to the Nest Thermostat.
• Proprietary systems that make use of serial protocols to connect between the system and the thermostat.
• Certain international systems.

For full compatibility information, visit the official website or contact their customer care for advice. Note that even though your system may be listed as incompatible with Nest thermostat, changes such as adding certain wiring can change that. Again, contact Nest technicians for guidance.


Nest Instalation in House

The Nest thermostat has been designed for easy and quick installation. On average, most people spend around half an hour on installation. One of the reasons it is easy to install is that it is compatible with most systems and usually doesn’t require any special parts or additions.

An instruction manual accompanies the package, guiding you step-by-step on everything you need to do. For additional help, you can always turn to YouTube, online forums or Nest’s customer care (available 24/7).

Some systems however, require professional-level skill to ensure proper and safe installation. If your heating and cooling system falls under this category, you can contact a nearby Nest Pro for help and advice.

When researching on smart thermostats, you may have heard about the term C Wire. As we mentioned in our smart thermostat guide, it is a low voltage wire that many smart thermostats need to power themselves. The Nest Learning Thermostat can work across a wide range of HVAC systems even without a C Wire present.

But in a few cases, a C Wire must be present for the thermostat to function properly. The Nest compatibility tool should help you find out whether your system needs a C Wire.

If a C Wire is necessary, you have to get it professionally installed before using the Nest Thermostat.

Network Connectivity

The Nest Learning Thermostat comes with two forms of network connectivity: WiFi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). WiFi is what the thermostat uses to connect to the internet and provide remote monitoring and control from wherever you are.

The Nest third generation thermostat is the first to use both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi bands. This makes it compatible with most routers.

Bluetooth connectivity acts as an alternative to WiFi, when you are in range.

For instance, the thermostat can send notifications to your phone app over Bluetooth when you are at home. Most likely, Bluetooth connectivity will also come in handy in the future as Nest seeks more integration with other smart peripherals and systems.

There is also the issue of security which comes up wherever there are wireless networks.

The Nest thermostat provides robust security measures to prevent external intrusions by malicious parties.

That said, the homeowner bears most of the responsibility when it comes to keeping their system secure. For one, never connect to guest or open WiFi networks. This could present serious security vulnerabilities. Also make sure you also take all necessary router security measures to keep your network secure.

User Interface

One of the biggest improvements Nest has made in its third generation thermostat is the 3.3-inch display.

It’s larger, crisper and more vibrant. Nest has designed the user interface not only to be convenient and easy to use, but also to be beautiful. It is something you wouldn’t mind having on the wall of your home.

One of the advantages of a bigger and brighter screen is that you can see it from further away than before. Nest has even incorporated a sensor (more on that shortly), that senses your approach from afar and immediately lights up to show you the time or current temperature setting.

When setting up the Nest thermostat, use the rotating ring to bring up different options and select your preferred ones. This will allow you to set personal preferences in areas like language, internet connection, temperature preferences and so on.

Initially, rotating the dial to access various settings might feel a bit tedious. But with time, you will get used to it.

Whether you find the user interface easy or hard to use, we have a better recommendation: use your phone, tablet or laptop. The Nest thermostat comes with both an online portal and an app through which you can remotely access your thermostat and control it. More on this below.

Remote Control

Nest App for Phones

The portal/app allows you set all preferences possible on the physical panel but without the tediousness of rotating the dial. But first, you need to connect your thermostat to your WiFi network. Then, you need to add the thermostat to your Nest account. Both processes are very easy with plenty of help available if you experience any hiccup.

Once everything is set up, the app shows you the current and target temperatures. If you wish, you can adjust heating/cooling settings, turn on the fan or change speed, change your schedule and change the thermostat mode. What settings you can control on the Nest app will depend on what kind of HVAC system you have.

Another really important feature of the app is the ability to view your energy history. It shows you how much energy you have used in heating, cooling and the fan over the last 10 days. This way, you can see whether you are using too much energy and find ways to dial it down.

Note that the Nest app is free. Setting up a Nest account is also free.

The app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. If you are using a computer, go to to access and manage your thermostat.

Energy Monitoring

The Nest thermostat deploys hawk-like monitoring on your energy usage. After all, this is the only way to tell whether it is really helping you save energy. One way to tell that the thermostat is monitoring your system’s energy expenditure is by looking out for a leaf icon.

The leaf appears on the display or app when you set a temperature that saves energy, giving you a visual feedback of how ‘green’ you are doing.

On the app or online platform, you can access energy usage data for the last 10 days. This provides a way to compare past and current levels of expenditure and take energy-saving action if necessary.

In addition to this, Nest will send you a monthly email report, showing you how much energy you have used in heating and cooling over the past one month.

Scheduling and Automation

This is one area where the Nest learning thermostat shines the brightest. The first thing they have done is make manual scheduling easy and frustration-free. Then they have added automation to optimize energy savings and get the scheduling burden off homeowners.

Manual control is necessary during the initial days after installing the thermostat. This allows the thermostat to learn from you before setting out on its own. You can set a custom schedule from the physical panel or app, choosing what temperature you want for different days and different times of the day.

If you don’t want to keep rotating the dial or tapping on your smartphone screen to set a schedule, opt for the automated Auto-Schedule feature. With Auto-Schedule on, the thermostat begins with default temperature settings.

As you change temperature through the day to fit your comfort preference, the thermostat keeps learning. Every day, it ‘remembers’ your preferences and uses them to automatically adjust temperature the next day.

Over time, the thermostat becomes intelligent to the point where you don’t need to set any temperatures. It can turn the heat up to where you love it in the morning, shut it off when there is no one home and bring it down as you turn in for the night.

It even knows to differentiate between weekday and weekend temperature preferences.


A host of sensors embedded inside the Nest thermostat is what makes it so smart. These sensors are designed to improve functionality and most importantly, save energy. Here is a list of sensors inside the third gen Nest thermostat.

  • Far-field activity – known as Farsight, this sensor knows when you are approaching from a distance and immediately displays temperature or time.
  • Temperature sensors – the thermostat has 10 temperature sensors to monitor temperature changes inside your home accurately. This allows the thermostat to know the current temperature and how quickly your home heats or cools.
  • Activity sensors – used to detect whether there is anyone home and set the temperature accordingly.
  • Ambient light sensor – this one automatically changes the screen’s brightness for perfect viewing throughout the day.
  • Humidity sensor – monitors interior humidity level. Most customers report that the sensors, especially the activity ones, work perfectly with no major issues.

Smart Home Integration

The Nest thermostat works with a wide range of smart home devices including Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa (through Echo), Smart lights, smart locks, smart appliances and so on.

Look for the ‘Works With Nest’ logo to find products that are compatible with Nest products.

Most third party products you connect with Nest Thermostat can be controlled via the Nest app with no need for complicated setup or programming. As home automation is taken more seriously, expect much deeper integration in the near future.


• Saves energy and makes life easier through its intelligent scheduling and automation.
• Packed with more sensors than before, making it more accurate and adding to its intelligence.
• Easy-to-read energy reports for the last 10 days and at the end of every month.
• Remote control and monitoring through the app and online platform is easy and convenient.


• Controlling it using the physical dial is a bit tedious and time consuming.
• The app does not show long term energy usage data. You can only view usage information from the last ten days. If you want to compare usage over several months, you have to open the monthly energy reports and do the comparison yourself.


• 24-bit color LCD screen with 480 x 480 display resolution.
• Weighs 243.7g when assembled and measures 3.3 inches in diameter and 1.21 inches in height.
• Uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery.
• Stainless steel rotating ring for settings control.
• Language options include English, French, Dutch and Spanish.
• Uses Bluetooth low energy (BLE) and 2.4GHz/5GHz WiFi connection.


Nest is the most intelligent as well as the best all-round WiFi thermostat sold today.

If you are looking for a smart WiFi thermostat that scores high in all areas – convenience, intelligence, scheduling, energy-saving – the Nest third generation thermostat is a great choice.


About the author

Vicky Nicholls is the Sr. Researcher and Writer for

Vicky is a full-time professional writer who spends most of her time covering the real-world impact of the latest technologies on consumers' lives around the world. She writes full-time for a number of leading review and editorial publications on the web.

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