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Re-Thinking Stupid Household Devices for the Conscious Consumer

Meet the “The Nest”, a completely re-imagined thermostat

As we stated in our first blog post, the mantra of the Conscious Consumer is:

“My consumption impacts myself, my family, my community, and the world at large. I consider issues of health, environment and social responsibility when I make decisions.”

As a Conscious Consumer, I have finally decided to try and do something about my escalating electricity and heating bills, especially after Xcel Energy was kind enough to alert me that we were spending far more in electricity than our neighbors.

Our energy consumption is negatively impacting my pocketbook and I feel guilty thinking about the environmental impact that our inefficiency is causing.

With two small children in our house, we have taken liberties to keep our house extra cool in the summer and extra warm in the winter. Until recently, the perspective of my wife and I has been if we have to pay a little bit more to have comfortable and happy toddlers, it is money well spent.

Happy toddlers = happy parents

Couple that with the thought that there was little we could do with our existing thermostat. It is programmable but only has two settings and doesn’t adjust for the weekends. To take it a step further, the clock runs fast, so every few days – if I remember to – I have to reset it manually to limit the energy usage while we are at work/daycare.

I never gave a second thought to replacing it with another thermostat that might have slightly better functionality because the upside of it never justified the investment or potential unforeseen consequences that my limited DIY skills might do to the house, leading to an expensive call to a handyman.

That is until I heard about Nest, which positions itself as the “learning thermostat”. I had first read about it when it was a startup about a year ago as was looking for trial users. I ignored an urge then to jump on board for three primary reasons:

  1. $249 cost
  2. Patent dispute with Honeywell
  3. Personal hesitancy to buy any first-generation products

Jump forward to three weeks ago when I heard about Nest’s announcement of its second-generation thermostat with the upgrades you would expect to see from a company co-founded by Tony Fadell, the guy who designed the iPod.

Now the Conscious Consumer in me starts thinking if now is a good time to try it out. I have heard good things from some friends on Facebook that have it and love it. The potential cost savings in my monthly bills from Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy could pay for it in a matter of months. And probably most important to me, it will self adjust based on our energy usage patterns.

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I put in my order from Lowe’s this past weekend and expect receive it and have it installed by the end of the week. I’ll report back on the blog in a few months to let you know how it is working out. In the meantime, if you already own a Nest, let us know what your experience has been.

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