As clever as the Nest Learning Thermostat can be, its intelligence only extends as far as the front door: it hasn't really been aware of how neighbors or the seasons affect our power bills. Nest Labs is improving that connection to the outside world through Nest Energy Services, a new program that links its device to the collective, cloud-based knowledge of utility companies. When owners are with an Energy Services-aware provider, the thermostat will know when to brace for an energy "rush hour" and automatically limit its cooling during peak (read: expensive) periods. It also gives a heads-up for seasonal discounts that fine-tune the temperature schedule over the course of a few weeks. Unlike previous utility-guided approaches, Nest users can always retake control if they genuinely can't stand the heat.
Only Austin Energy, Green Mountain Energy, Reliant and Southern California Edison have lined up for the synced climate control so far, although Nest is sweetening the deal by expanding utility-based discounts for the thermostat itself. Customers of National Grid can get an immediate $100 rebate through Nest, while those who sign up with Reliant can still receive their thermostats for free with certain plans. The deals are calculated tradeoffs for companies likely to recoup their investment down the road, but they could represent big wins for homeowners still jittery about paying up front to save money later.
Nest Partners with Energy Companies Across U.S. to Offer Energy-Saving Plans and Instant Automatic Rebates
Rush Hour Rewards and Seasonal Savings Services Help People Save Energy, Money
Palo Alto, Calif. – Apr. 22, 2013 – Nest Labs, Inc. (www.nest.com) today announced that the company is partnering with leading progressive energy providers in the U.S. to offer more than 90 million people the opportunity to earn money and save even more this summer. Together with NRG Energy, its subsidiaries Reliant and Green Mountain Energy, National Grid, Austin Energy and Southern California Edison, Nest is enabling instant rebates and exclusive offers for the Nest® Learning Thermostat™, as well as introducing new ways to save energy with Rush Hour Rewards™ and Seasonal Savings™ services.
Rush Hour Rewards helps people earn money or credits from their energy provider by using less energy when everyone else is using more. With Seasonal Savings, a Nest thermostat uses its knowledge of a customer's schedule and preferences to gradually fine-tune the temperatures in the schedule to help save more energy. Both services are powered by Nest's proprietary Auto-Tune™ technology and offered only through Nest's energy partners.
"According to data from the Consortium for Energy Efficiency and Pike Research, in 2011, energy companies allocated approximately $9 billion to energy efficiency and peak-reduction programs," said Tony Fadell, Nest founder and CEO. "Nest's new offerings have the potential to make these programs not only more effective, but effortless for consumers. We're working with some of the country's most progressive energy providers – like NRG companies Reliant and Green Mountain Energy – and applying our design and marketing expertise, focus on the customer, and understanding of technology to make energy efficiency simple and accessible."
Early results of the new programs are promising. Based on Nest's spring 2013 nationwide trial in hundreds of homes, it's estimated that Seasonal Savings can save 5 to 10 percent on energy for heating and cooling (in addition to savings generated through Nest's Auto-Schedule™, Auto-Away™ and Airwave™ features). With Rush Hour Rewards, customers can earn $20 to $60 per season depending on the energy provider and other factors, including weather conditions.
"Nest has revolutionized the home thermostat in multiple ways and we are very pleased to be the first retail electricity provider to make it easy and affordable for our customers to enjoy the benefits of the Nest," said David Crane, president and CEO of NRG Energy. "We've been working with Nest for nearly a year and we've agreed to expand that relationship because of our shared commitment to developing and delivering the next generation of energy solutions that serve the needs and lifestyles of end-use customers. As an industry, residential load management is one of the biggest opportunities that we have to curb spikes in electricity use and when we can make it simple and keep customers comfortable with innovative tools like Nest, it's a win for NRG and our customers."
Rush Hour Rewards
Just like rush hour on the freeway, when there aren't enough lanes to accommodate all the traffic, the electric grid can also get congested on hot summer days. To keep up with demand, additional – and often less efficient – power plants are brought online to cover high-demand days. Energy providers would rather reward their customers for using less energy during rush hours, and Rush Hour Rewards is designed to help customers take advantage of those rewards.
Rush Hour Rewards automatically adjusts temperatures around rush hours. Depending on what Nest has learned from you and your home, Nest might raise the temperature by a few degrees during the afternoon and/or pre-cool a home before the rush hour begins to make sure you're reasonably comfortable while using less energy during the rush hour. The customer is always in control. To override the temperature, simply change the setting during a rush hour and Nest will keep the temperatures you set.
Over time, everyone gets settled into a schedule. We get used to the temperatures we've set and can miss easy opportunities to decrease our bills. It's possible to save a lot of money by making minor temperature adjustments to your schedule and Seasonal Savings is designed to do that automatically for you, fine-tuning your schedule over several weeks so you don't notice a difference in comfort.
Seasonal Savings can appear twice per year: early in the heating and cooling seasons. It uses everything Nest has learned about your home and temperature preferences to identify ways that you can save energy without compromising comfort. Nest slowly adjusts temperatures over several weeks – never more than a few degrees total. This allows you to get used to the change gradually to make sure you don't feel too hot or too cold. Changes could include moving a temperature so that it's a little bit earlier or later in your schedule, adjusting temperatures a few degrees, or even adding or getting rid of temperatures in your schedule. Actual savings will vary by weather, your usage, and your provider's rate plan, but Nest studies show plan participants can use 5 to 10 percent less energy when heating or cooling. You can change the schedule at any time, but if you stick with Seasonal Savings' tuned-up schedule, it will reduce your energy use for the season while still keeping you comfortable. In Nest trials, 80 percent of participants kept their new schedules after the Seasonal Savings service was completed.
Nest Auto-Tune technology looks for opportunities to save people money and then makes adjustments automatically for people who opt into the new plans offered through select energy companies. Using Nest's knowledge of personal temperature preferences and schedules, the weather, and home profiles – as well as Nest's proprietary algorithms – Auto-Tune makes subtle temperature tweaks while maximizing people's savings.
Like many of Nest's features, Auto-Tune technology will continue to get better over time. Auto-Tune can be used to track energy costs, not only showing you when energy is more expensive, but adjusting your thermostat to help you keep to a specified budget. And for energy provider customers on Time of Use (TOU) plans, Auto-Tune can set an optimal schedule to preserve comfort.
No-Hassle, Instant Online Rebates for Nest
For most rebates, you have to fill out paperwork, dig up receipts, mail everything in and wait. And wait. So we reinvented the rebate: we've joined with National Grid in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to create an instant $100 online rebate when National Grid customers buy a Nest thermostat, making Nest more accessible than ever.
Rush Hour Rewards and Seasonal Savings Availability
Rush Hour Rewards and Seasonal Savings are available only to customers of Nest's energy partners. If you are an energy company interested in learning more about Nest's utility programs, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reliant – Reliant customers throughout Texas will have three ways to save with Nest:
• The Reliant Learn & ConserveSM plan, which includes a Nest thermostat at no cost.
• The new Reliant Free WeekendsSM plan with Nest, the first plan to offer free energy all weekend along with a Nest thermostat.
• The Reliant Degrees of Difference with Nest program, which customers can sign up for alongside their existing Reliant plan. Degrees of Difference with Nest gives customers the opportunity to earn credits during energy rush hours and lets them access both Rush Hour Rewards and Seasonal Savings.
For more details, visit www.nest.com/reliant.
Green Mountain Energy – Green Mountain Energy customers in Texas, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania who sign up for the Pollution Free™ Efficient with Nest plan will get the Seasonal Savings service beginning this summer. More details on Seasonal Savings for Green Mountain customers will be available in late May. For more information, visit www.nest.com/greenmountain.
Austin Energy – Beginning today, Austin Energy customers who own a Nest can sign up for Rush Hour Rewards and Seasonal Savings. To enroll, visit www.nest.com/ae.
Southern California Edison – Nest customers can sign up today for Rush Hour Rewards and Seasonal Savings. For more information, visit www.nest.com/sce.