Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Nest, Now Working With Utility Companies, Will Pay You to Meter the A/C This Summer

Nest Labs, the Bay Area-based startup that has made thermostats cool,* is promising to send you a check this summer if you’ll just keep your excessive air conditioning usage in check.

Nest Cooling 2

Yup, an actual check, ranging from $20 to $60. You just have to have a Nest. And sign up for certain plans with certain utility companies. And let the temperature at home creep up a little bit during “high-traffic” A/C hours.

Nest today announced that it’s going to be working with a handful of utility companies across the U.S. to sell its thermostats and offer immediate rebates like this one to potential customers.

If you sign up for a “Learn and Conserve” plan with Reliant, an NRG Energy company in Texas, the company will provide a Nest for you. Green Mountain Energy Company, also part of NRG, is going to offer a Nest for free to customers who sign up for certain plans in New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

National Grid, a utility company that serves the Northeast, is offering $100 rebates on Nest thermostats purchased through its website, bringing the cost down to $149 per device.

In addition, Nest is rolling out the aforementioned “Rush Hour Rewards” program in conjunction with some utility companies. If customers agree to adjust the Nest thermostat by a few degrees during the hours of peak energy usage, they’ll be rewarded with a seasonal rebate. The customer will be alerted to an impending “rush hour” via the Nest mobile app, and a pre-cooling setting is supposed to help adjust your home temperature ahead of time to keep the place comfortable. (Plus, if you get really hot, you can always manually adjust the temperature again.)

NestEnergyHistory

But what’s more interesting than the check you could potentially pocket is Nest’s move to partner with utility companies to sell and promote the product. Other, larger appliance makers have taken this tack before, and Nest is hoping it will lead to a bigger footprint in U.S. homes.

Nest, in case you’re not familiar with the product, is the brainchild of Matt Rogers and Tony Fadell, who oversaw the creation of the iPod at Apple. The thermostat first hit the market in the fall of 2011 and received many positive reviews from users, who praised its sensor-driven, Wi-Fi-connected, smart-energy capabilities in the home. It costs $249 and works with an app on iPhone, Android phones or desktop PCs.

Nest has declined to say how many units it has sold since launch, except to say that the second-generation version is “definitely appealing to more customers.” In January, GigaOM reported that Nest had raised $80 million in funding from existing and new investors.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Nest. In February of 2012, Nest was slapped with a lawsuit from Honeywell International, which identified seven patents it believed Nest infringed on with its hot new thermostat.** That suit is continuing.

And the company is going up against industrial giants that have been making thermostats for decades. Honeywell also recently introduced a new Wi-Fi-capable smart thermostat that improves upon the company’s previous “smart” thermostats.

* It is nearly impossible to write about high-tech thermostats and not use at least one terrible hot/cold pun.
** Crap, I did it again.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald