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What Can You Do with your Nest Thermostat?

Nest Thermostat

I have a Nest thermostat, and I like it for a lot of reasons: besides outclassing my old thermostat in the looks department, it automatically optimizes the temperature so I get lower energy bills.

But that’s not all Nest can do. Its parent company, Nest Labs, has been getting chummy with other smart organizations—first teaming up with Google in 2014, then merging with Dropcam, the WiFi-enabled video camera. (Dropcam has since been renamed “Nest Cam.”) Then two years ago, Nest Labs opened its framework to about 5,000 developers, yielding even more imaginative functions—and more devices that can hook up with your thermostat. So, what can you do with Nest? Here are some of its coolest tricks.

Nest Labs Products

Besides offering the Nest smart thermostat, which learns your routine, then keeps the temperature cozy when you’re home and in energy-saving mode when you’re out, Nest Labs manufactures a few more items. All of them are made to work together.

  • Nest Protect. Nest Protect is a smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector. If there’s a fire, it will tell your thermostat to shut off the heat. Wirelessly pairing it with the thermostat will also allow the thermostat to display a warning message if the alarm goes off. Additionally, Nest Protect’s occupancy sensor will help inform your thermostat of whether you’re home or away, so it’ll theoretically make fewer errors. Side note: this implies that your thermostat may make errors if it’s working on its own, depending on how centrally located it is.
  • Nest Cam. Formerly called Dropcam, Nest Cam is basically a home monitoring camera that you can access via your smart devices. If Nest Protect sounds the alarm, then your Nest Cam will automatically start recording, and notify you via email. You can also set your Nest Cam to start recording whenever your Nest thermostat goes into “Away” mode, so it can capture anyone roaming your house that shouldn’t be.

Nest Thermostat

Things That Connect to Nest

Handily, lots of products now have a “Works with Nest” label on their packaging. But you may already have some of these and not know what they can do. Here’s your cheat sheet to some of the cooler partnerships between the Nest thermostat and friends:

  • Philips Hue lights. When a Nest Cam senses motion, it can switch on your smart Hue lights. Bing! A spotlight’s on the intruder.
  • Whirlpool washers and dryers. Are you the type who runs the laundry, then forgets it’s in the dryer, wrinkling up? Nest can sense when you’re away, and activate Wrinkle Shield on your Whirlpool dryer so that your clothes stay smooth until you get back. Or it can delay a load, and schedule to run it when energy demand is lower.
  • Chamberlain and LiftMaster garage doors. Open the garage door, and Nest will know you’re home and instantly adjust the temperature. It’ll shift to “Away” mode when you leave. It’s partnership with Kevo lock works the same way.
  • SimpliSafe. Got SimpliSafe’s wireless security system? When you place it in “Away” mode (on), your Nest thermostat will also switch into Away mode to save energy.

What Can Control Nest

Sometimes, you want to control Nest from someplace other than the Nest app. This is a selection of the latest and greatest ways to do it.

  • Google Now. Set up the Google app, and you’ll be able to use it to control Nest via voice command.
  • Logitech Harmony universal remotes. Add to your Logitech Harmony’s universality by hooking it up to your Nest thermostat. Not only will you be able to command Nest via remote, but when you pick up the remote, Nest will recognize that you’re home and adjusts the temperature, if it hasn’t done so already. Ray Super Remote (my new favorite) works the same way.
  • IFTTT. “If This, Then That” is basically a programming app that requires no programming skills. It can connect your Nest products to hundreds of apps, and create if-then “recipes” such as “If lights turn on, then lower the temperature.”
  • iPhone or Apple Watch. QuickControl will let you not only adjust the thermostat from your phone or wrist, but when you approach the house, it can switch the thermostat from Away to Home mode.
  • iOS. If you’re running Mac OS X Yosemite, you can install a widget called Thessa and control the temp from your desktop. It could be handy for those times when you’re at your desk and your phone is in another room.
  • PC. Roost can connect both your thermostat and Nest Protect to your PC, then send you on-screen notifications such as “My hallway temperature was 19.5°C 8 minutes ago.” Perhaps more usefully, it will let you know if it detects any sudden changes in temperature…or smoke.

Though these are some of my favorites, there are quite a few more, lesser-known devices that work with Nest. You can see the full selection here.

Do you use Nest? What are your favorite ways to use it? Tell me in the comments!

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