GOOGLE-OWNED HOME AUTOMATION FIRM Nest launched its Learning Thermostat in the UK on Wednesday, two years after its US launch in 2012, to bring down home energy bills in Blighty by up to 29 percent.
Co-founded by former Apple engineers and creators of the iPod, Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, Nest has brought its Learning Thermostat, a programmer and a thermostat in one device, to the UK.
The launch means that British homeowners can use the Nest thermostat to automatically turn down the heat in their homes when they are away and control their heating from mobile phones.
In a press briefing, Nest said that the reason behind the UK launch is that there is "no good thermostat to make a dent into energy costs" and that 66 percent of the average UK energy bill is for heating homes.
"Lowering your heating by just one degree will save you £75 a year, but to really make a difference, you have to programme your thermostat and people are just not doing that," Nest said. "Every year the average annual UK cost for household energy bills is £ 1,342, set to increase £100 a year."
Nest claimed that heating costs can be reduced by between four and 29 percent with the Learning Thermostat. It has been reported that Nest has sold one million of the smart controllers so far in the US, though this hasn't been confirmed by the company.
The Nest thermostat connects to a user's WiFi network and to the Nest Heat Link, which goes right next to the boiler and talks to the thermostat. The Heat Link is powered by wired cables in the wall, which brings both power and data, and tell the boiler to turn on or off.
Nest said it had to do a lot of testing in the UK to get the thermostat to work and thus the UK version is quite different than the model it launched in the US two years ago.
We had a play with the thermostat in a demo session. The chrome border of the spherical device works in a way that's similar to the iPod, so you turn the dial right to turn up the temperature and left to turn it down. To select an on-screen prompt, you simply push on the front of the thermostat, like one big click wheel.
Features of the Nest thermostat include: an Auto-Schedule function, which programs itself in a few days, creating a personalised schedule based on the temperature changes users make; Auto-Away, a built in sensor that knows when users have left the house and adjust the temperature; and Remote Control, a feature offering the ability to control home's temperature from a laptop, mobile phone or tablet.
Another neat feature its companion app that shows users their energy usage. Nest also sends each user a report every month, personalised to them. It tells them how much energy they have used every month, analysing and highlighting the top three changes. For example, how much more or less energy they have used and how many hours of heating they have saved due to the Nest's clever learning capabilities and sensors.
New features for the UK version of the device include a thermostat and a programmer all-in-one to replace the need for both, and Heat Link, a function that turns a household boiler on and off when a user changes the temperature on the Nest Thermostat.
However, the Learning Thermostat doesn't come cheap. Nest alone will be available for £179 but professional installation is advised, and that'll set you back £249.
Nest can be installed on walls around the home or can be propped up on a horizontal surface instead with an accessory stand, which is sold separately for a rather extortionate £29.
To kick off Nest's plans in the UK, the firm has partnered with utility company Npower, which will offer the smart thermostat along with its energy contracts in the coming months. Details of the Npower contracts are not available yet.
Google spent $3.2bn, or just under £2bn to acquire Nest in January, because it believes that Nest takes unloved items and makes them smart. µ