The Nest thermostat has already gone through a hardware revision or two and found its way onto plenty of physical and virtual store shelves, but parent company Nest Labs is eager to get it into even more households in short order.
The Palo Alto company has just announced that it has teamed up with energy providers from across the country that will see new climate-control services (not to mention some rebates) go live for customers in a handful of markets.
So far, the list of partners includes National Grid, NRG Energy, NRG subsidiaries Reliant and Green Mountain Energy, Austin Energy and Southern California Edison. You can probably guess what markets those last two serve. These newly forged partnerships could see adoption of the household gadget surge — customers who ink deals with National Grid, for instance, can claim a $100 rebate to help defray the costs of a Nest thermostat.
While the others don’t offer much in the way of actual cash back, Nest’s tie-ups emphasize the long-term value of having a Nest over a run-of-the-mill thermostat. The way the folks at Nest look at it, their gadget is only going to become more useful as the days get longer and warmer, and those new services I mentioned earlier should only help matters when it comes to the cost-conscious.
First up is Nest’s so-called Rush Hour Rewards, which are meant to reduce the load on already-strained power stations once it starts getting really hot outside. Rather than cranking the temperature down low and leaving it there as a hapless human might, the Nest instead gets a feel for the sorts of climates its users prefer and will sporadically turn down the temperature to keep things within that preferred range. By occasionally introducing blasts of cold air instead of just leaving things to run at full blast, the Nest can keep your house at about the same temperature as before without much of a corresponding bump on the bill.
Also part of the package is what Nest calls “seasonal savings,” which will see the smart thermostat measure user temperature preferences over the course of the year and make minor modifications over the course of a few weeks. The idea is to reduce a user’s heating bill by carefully acclimating them to a new, more cost-efficient temperature scheme without the residents even noticing.
For now, only customers who select certain plans with those power companies can use these new services, but I very much doubt that team Nest is content to leave things as they are. These sorts of deals will only serve to raise the company’s profile, and buy-in from power partners is a big deal for Nest especially as the company’s rivals have moved to make their own wares smarter. Consider Honeywell: it already filed a lawsuit against Nest last year for supposed acts of copyright infringement, an allegation that Nest Labs vigorously disagrees with. Meanwhile, the conglomerate is gearing up to release a rather handsome smart thermostat of its own, so deals like these could help Nest stay a step ahead of the pack.