From its inception, Nest was an impact company.
The impetus to create Nest came from the fact that heating and cooling our homes comprised about 50% of home energy use and, thus, about 5% of the total energy consumption in the US. Before Nest, antiquated technology and overly complicated user interfaces meant that traditional heating and cooling systems leveled mountains of energy.
Additionally, back in 2010, Energy Star was sunsetted for programmable thermostats, furthering our belief that the time was right for a new approach to managing our homes’ energy. And speaking of the right time, the concept of a “smart grid” had officially come to market, heralded on the premise that homes could be more intelligent based on the needs of the power grid.
Across the country, huge capital funneled into meters and AMI deployment.
The early team at Nest unified behind the mission to directly provide consumers with a product that made controlling a home’s temperature cheaper, quicker, more effective and, ultimately, more efficient. We were determined to make an impact. This determination guided our every decision from product to process to design.
Nest’s thermostat was designed to take cues from the user, programming itself in approximately one week. Gone were the days when machines simply ran in the background, skyrocketing consumer costs and eating up energy even when no one was actually home or overly-heating in the dead hours of the night.
Today, Nest has now partnered with most utility companies around the U.S. (and even internationally). As you are reading this sentence, Nest owners have saved about 37 million MWh of energy (approximately how much the entire planet uses in 2 hours if I did the math correctly). Later, we launched Rush Hour Rewards, Seasonal Savings, Time of Savings, and more that worked in conjunction with smart grid-enabled programs. These programs empowered to take control of the home’s energy usage and funnel that energy in ways that improved the lives of the home-dwellers and were designed to be capital-light but are achieving grid-wide benefit
Nest’s sophomore stab at driving social impact was a smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm, Nest Protect. We were shocked by the statistics on the number of fire and CO-related deaths due to people not having properly installed alarms (despite it being the law).
Many of these deaths were due to preventable user interface problems. We’ve all been there. It’s 3am. It’s the dead of winter. And that annoying, constant chirping from the ceiling smoke detector has infiltrated your dreams...again. It feels like there does not exist a more grating sound. So, instead of changing the batteries, we would disassemble (or break) the smoke detectors, throwing them into junk drawers and promising ourselves we’d change the batteries later.
When faced with inconvenience, we often unconsciously left our homes and families at risk.
Nest knew that the products themselves had to change if we were going to truly create safer homes. We set out to design an attractive, elegant product that still delivered peace of mind, but that took the inconvenience factor out of this part of home maintenance. Beyond the design, smartphone integration enabled notifications and we could also provide alerts in a real, human voice both about the product and the state of the environment.
Oh and the most meaningful part? Real people around the country reaching out with their stories about how Nest impacted their lives (read here!).
Time and time again, you’ll read about Nest’s impeccable design and about how the home, in general, was long overdue for an update. That's certainly true. Users love to praise the functionality and connectivity of the products, which were truly ground-breaking at the time. But we also strove to do more, to make the world of energy consumption and home safety better.
The reach of Nest goes beyond a design refresh on outdated methodology; the original Nest Learning Thermostat was a pioneer in the space of energy management and Nest Protect was born out of our commitment to public safety.
Nest is and has always been a marriage between social impact and a top-of-the-line consumer product.
In many ways, Nest kicked off the conversation about energy savings in the home, but we can and must do more if we hope to save energy, people and the world.
Do you have an idea that will create impact? Let’s talk here.