VIP is a gadget fan. Like a typical geek he knows what new gadgets are on the production shelf, is an avid viewer of The Gadget Show (well that is, until he spotted Jason ‘flat cap' Bradbury at a theme park and approached him full of praise, only for ‘flat cap' to snub him).
Under guidance, my VIP even installed and connected up a speaker system in every room in our house. Okay, it's not Sonas system, but the boy has ‘done me proud'.
So sometime last year VIP mentioned this thing called Nest and explained that it was an intelligent system that you could use for your heating.
I was only half listening until he told me that I could download an app on my iPhone and programme the heating to come on while I was away from home.
Now I too love gadgets and new technology, but being warm is very high on my priority list, so my interest was sparked.
However, as I work mainly from home I pointed out that all I had to do was walk 2 metres to turn the heating on and off – and we already have a programmer – how could we justify the cost at £200? We could feed the family for two weeks with that!
Then Christmas came and on Christmas Eve it was like a lightening bolt had hit VIP: “I have to go out!” he muttered “I have to buy presents.”
He glanced at me with a look that said ‘I know you've bought ALL the Xmas presents for our friends, family and kids and I also know that you've bought your own Xmas presents for me to wrap, BUT there's one present I want to keep a surprise.'
I should have known then that he was off to Currys to get this Nest thing. He had been hankering after it for months – and what a great excuse to get it – as a Christmas gift for his wife!
However, what I do know about VIP is that when he does his research, he does his research, so there must be something of substance behind this Nest thing.
The Nest installation
It wasn't until late January when we had the Nest installed. It was -4 outside and the installation man rocked on up at about 7.30pm.
Being a school night I was a bit worried that with an estimated install of about two hours the kids would look like zombies the next morning through lack of sleep.
I needn't have worried – the guy, who turned out to be a twenty-something Romanian – was very considerate and er…how do I put this without getting in trouble? Easy on the eyes let's say.
From the moment he removed his shoes as he stepped into the house I was a fan (respect my home and you too shall earn respect), as I’m very house proud.
He worked quietly – and apart from about 10 seconds of loud tapping, you wouldn't have known he was there.
He had another Nest device with him that he showed us. This one was fancier than ours and could also control the hot water as well as the heating.
It had been released mid-December and was the latest version – the third generation Nest.
He asked if we wanted it – and for an extra £20 it would have been foolish of us to turn it down – especially as VIP still had the receipt for the original one he'd purchased – and it was within 30 days of purchase – just.
Our man ended up leaving at just before 11.30pm. He had started work at 06:00 that morning.
His work ethic was incredible. More so, even though he wasn't a plumber he took a look at our boiler when I bemoaned about the hot water never getting really hot.
“This is because the temperature of boiler is 40 degrees – it's quite low” he told me, adjusting it to 70 degrees.
And in the 6 years that I have lived at this address I am about to finally get a hot tap that was, well hot.
The guy deserved a tip for this alone – not to mention the fact that he spent a good half hour drawing diagrams on how our system worked and explaining how to use the Nest, which was now installed in the hallway and on our mobile devices.
“In 30 days, Nest will learn movement”
“He will learn when you want more warm” our Romanian guy told us. Why he gave ‘it' a gender I don't know, but the idea of this Nest thing watching me and learning our routines was intriguing.
How does it do this…? Is it watching us?” I blurted out. Yes – it was one of those situations where even as I was saying it I realised it was a stupid question.
The wry smile on the guy’s face (along with VIP rolling his eyes at me) told me to put a sock in it.
Okay, I told myself, I don't need to know exactly how it operates, but what I really wanted to know is: have we just dropped £200 on a glorified heating and hot water system? According to our man, in 30 days I would know one way or another.
I woke early – at 5am and for some reason I didn't automatically pull the covers over my head to snuggle down where it was warm.
I was lying there wondering if I should get up and do some work and then it struck me. I've got my arm outside of the covers and it’s not cold: aha, the Nest!
It must have known that it was a cold night and decided I shouldn't have to see my breath on exhaling in the morning.
I looked into this – the Nest does indeed ‘read' the outside temperature. It also knows the inside temperature (duh) and the humidity. How clever.
I checked the Nest app on my mobile – it was 18 degrees and in 15 minutes my house would be heated to 20 degrees.
I woke the kids to get dressed and unbelievably, for the first time in two weeks, they didn't complain how cold it was or stood there shivering unable to get undressed out of their pyjamas and into their school uniforms.
They even got straight out of bed when I asked them to. Was this because they didn't wake up to a semi-warm house I wonder?
The other thing that I noticed on the first day was that the hot water from the kitchen sink was as it was supposed to be – hot. Not tepid – hot and hot with steam coming off.
‘Bloody hell' I'm thinking..I bet this is going to cost us a fortune. I check the app. Under the temperature there is a green leaf symbol. I smile.
According to our installer this means that I am in energy saving mode and saving money. It doesn't make sense to me: a warmer house, hotter water and yet I'm saving money. It's great news obviously and I'm happy to just roll with it if it's true…
Given yesterday's events I didn't have time to take a shower but VIP jumped in first. Thank god he did – forewarned is forearmed as they say and – if what he was saying was true – this would be one of the best showers I would have.
Just to give you a brief history of our time in our house: we have never really experienced piping hot water in our baths or showers. Yes, they've been hot but not so hot that it would scald.
Why would I want water that could scale you're wondering?
Well, hand in hand with this – only one of us could take one bath a day – or two showers if we are quick enough – as the hotness of the water always ran out super quick.
I remember our installation man muttering something about the four of us being able to shower comfortably, only half believing him.
But when I turned on the taps this morning it was as if someone had sprinkled fairy dust over them. I actually had piping hot water – that wouldn't get any cooler until I had almost turned the tap to its cold setting.
Soon the bathroom was filled with steam and it felt like I was in a sauna. Actually, what I was in was a very good mood – it was a great start to the day.
An email pinged into my inbox today. It's subject line read ‘Are you feeling cosy yet?' – and it was from Nest. Very clever.
I had forgotten I had given my email address to our man, so it was a nice touch and made me feel part of the ‘Nest community'. Whether this community exists or not I'm not sure, but I somehow felt a bit like a VIP myself.
I'm tidying my desk and I clock the Nest booklet guide which I thought had been safely filed away.
Having a quick look through I read that in the first week of installation Nest learns how you are programming your schedule and starts making intelligent predictions.
It tells you to ‘turn down your heating when you go to bed' and turn it up when you come in. After a week of doing this Nest apparently ‘learns' what we like.
I call VIP in a panic. “I think we've done the wrong thing” tell him. “This thing does the programming for us after a week but I've already set the schedule – and now it won't have to learn a thing!”
I felt disappointed that we had overridden one of the unique features that makes Nest stand out from anything else – and I didn't know what to do about it. It was day 5 so I figured I might have two days left to turn the clock back. I decided to call Nest.
After a five minute holding time (Saturday midday) and after the details of taking my credentials this how the conversation went:
Me: I've had nest for 5 days now and I understand that it learns your programme in a week but we haven't been switching it up and down we programmed a schedule when we got it and now I'm worried this has overridden its intelligent programming capabilities
Nest: Nest is always learning but especially in the first 7-10 days. If you've been making other changes in between what you've programmed, these will be stored because it's always going to try and learn your schedule.
Me: Ah, yes that's what we've been doing – turning it up and down and making small changes either because it was too hot or too cold.
Nest: We are here for you if you have any questions, so please call back if you do. Thank you very much and enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Well, that was refreshing and when he said they are here for me, I'm considering testing this and calling him the next time VIP and I have a row.
But he actually sounded sincere when he said he hoped I had a nice weekend. Aside from giving me the answer I wanted, this was a pleasant conversation and I know customer service is obviously a high priority for the Nest people.
I am rudely awakened by my ten-year old. It's Sunday and its 6.30am. I try to go back to sleep but I can't.
I need a cuppa so I decide to make myself a tea and bring it back to bed. As I'm on my way back up the stairs I notice that when Nest lights up, there's a black screen instead of an orange one.
When you walk near Nest it detects you and lights up. You can decide whether the screen displays the temperature, weather, clock etc.
However, every time I go near it the screen is orange. This morning it's black and I'm worried. I go closer to check it out. On the screen is a little message
Aha! It was trying to get my attention that's why it had changed colour! It read: nest can now set away automatically.
I pressed the ‘continue' button. Then another message flashed up: Nest will now adjust for energy-saving when you aren't home.
Sounds good to me: this is the first indication that I know it has started to learn and predict. This is going to be interesting.
I just hope that in a month from now I'm not disappointed. Going by the last few days I feel hopeful this won't be the case.
“You had the heating on for 14 hours yesterday?!”
I guess there would always be a downside to Nest being able to recall the history of the heating schedule and this was it. VIP was watching me. With beady eyes.
It has been 38 days since Nest was installed. Last week (after exactly a month) a nice little email arrives in my inbox.
The subject line was ‘Nest home report', and on further inspection it actually gives a summary of my best habits throughout January.
It tells me that I've heated my home for a total of 132 hours in January. I suppose that's quite good as I'm discounting the first few days after nest was installed as we had it on for 24 hours a day – on full whack… Well, it was a bit nippy.
Eight months later…
Nest – now that the summer months are here, we haven’t got our central heating on and I haven’t had the need to remotely adjust the hot water programme, so I’d definitely say the Nest comes into its own in winter.
Overall I’m really impressed with Nest; the product is superb, customer service is spot on, their installers are professional and patient and, well I’m just impressed.
The real beauty will be when we go away in winter; instead of calling up my mum to ask her to turn my heating on for when I return, I’ll just get out my mobile and do it myself.
I don't like the plastic surround that the Nest sits on – and I'm not sure why I chose to have this in the first place (it's optional). But if I had the choice again I think it would look better without.
Every month I get a report which details what we've used and how this compares with other Nest users (I like a bit of competition) and it looks like the company is constantly evolving as well.
I received an email last week which read ‘Your Home on Your Wrist’, meaning that Nest product notifications can now be received on Apple Watches.
Anyway, I haven’t got an Apple Watch, but what I have got my eye on is Nest Cam Outdoor. VIP – are you reading this…?
Christmas is just a few months away… 😉
This review was not sponsored by Nest. I purchased the product myself with my hard earned money and a fine purchase it was too.