Back in January, Google announced that it was buying smart thermostat manufacturer Nest for $3.2 billion. Since then, we've seen Nest run as an independent business, although the smart thermostat is available on the Google Play Store. Today, Google-owned Nest has announced a deal with Electric Ireland in a deal which will see Irish citizens given a free Nest smart thermostat by signing a two year deal with the electric company. This means that up to 1.6 million Irish households can now benefit from a free Nest. The news was announced by Nest Chief Executive, Tony Fadell, at the Web Summit tech conference. The deal could save customers up to $250, the retail price of the smart thermostat. We know that signing deals such as this is very much a part of Nest's plan and we hope that this is the first of many deals.
If you're unfamiliar with the Nest smart thermostat, the device consists of three main parts: there's the pretty bit, the thermostat that you mount somewhere in the house. You also have the part that goes next to your boiler, which is how it controls the heat, and the third part is the mobile application. The Nest system communicates via WiFi and is simply designed to improve household heating and cooling efficiency. When it's installed, the instructions encourage you to turn the device up when you're in and down when you're out, but it learns when people are about via a movement sensor that's smart enough not to heat the house because your cat walks past it (my three will not be impressed!). It learns how quickly it takes for your home to warm up or cool down and so adapts to suit the particular conditions. You can control the heat from the app from anywhere you have an Internet connection, too. Over time, the unit figures our pretty quickly when you're at home and when you're not and uses this to reduce unnecessary heating (or cooling). It's a simple but smart idea with massive potential – there's a "Works With Nest" application development system that's been designed to connect the Nest technology with other devices.
We've discussed why Google are keen to get in on the home automation scene at Android Headlines before but currently, Nest is run as an independent business to Google. For most homeowners, Nest is expected to pay for itself in around two to three years, so for those Irish Electric customers considering the smart thermostat, it's an easier decision. For everybody else, let's hope that our provider (or country) starts offering the deal!