Nest costs WHAT?

The Nest Learning Thermostat sounds neat, which is what I accidentally keep calling it when I forget its forgettable name. Even the nicer thermostats I use have room for improvement, but $250, excluding installation, smelled more than a little bit rich for a thermostat, even one that can “program itself around your life.”

I thought about building a thermostat that has many of the interesting features of the Nest, but I realize this would be an expensive and involved project. For example, the WiFly Shield to tie an Arduino in to my WiFi network costs $90 from Sparkfun. For the downstairs thermostat, I could use the $46 Ethernet Shield instead, but that’s approaching $50 just for network connectivity! I’m not the only one to try this. The easiest approaches I’ve seen don’t replace the existing thermostat, they just bypass it. Since I already have a digital thermostat instead of a simple mercury switch model, that approach wouldn’t work for me, and I’d have to interface with the 4-wire controls coming from my HVAC.

A lot more searching and reading leaves me with the same question as the folks over at How is the Nest different? There are other smart, networked, programmable thermostats on the market at price points from around $100 for the Radio Thermostat, $300 for the Ecobee, and even more for solutions from traditional HVAC vendors, such as the Honeywell Prestige line that starts around $400. It seems like Nest isn’t a unique or new energy management system — it’s a networked thermostat with nice industrial design and slick software.

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