Integrator Impressed by New Nest Thermostat E ROI, Design Elements

Tom Campbell, chief technologist, corporate director of Just One Touch / Video & Audio Center, Santa Monica, Calif., cannot hide his enthusiasm for the new Nest Thermostat E.

“I’m very impressed. First of all, connectivity is where it’s at. There is already a buzz about Nest Thermostat E because it’s a fabulous price point. The price-to-performance ratio is phenomenal. It’s a no-brainer. Once the consumer touches it, and sees it, they will want it.”

“Having a slightly lower-cost smart device, enables us to reach another demographic of smart, energy-efficient buyers.”

— Gene LaNois, Nest

The new Nest Thermostat E has all the same features as the original Nest Learning Thermostat, but with a new design and a less expensive retail price: $169 versus $249 (with discounts in place for Nest pros). The device can be controlled from a smartphone over your Wi-Fi connection and comes programmed with a simple schedule.

Moreover, the new frosted display helps it blend into a homeowner’s wall. In terms of functionality, the Nest Thermostat E maintains the same functions for Works with Nest partner compatibility, including allowing for third-party smart home control, along with voice control via Google Home or Amazon Alexa. The unit is capable of handling systems that have two-heat/one-cool zones, or systems that are two-cool/one-heat zones. The only difference from the original Nest Learning Thermostat is that the Nest Thermostat E does not have humidity control, although it can still measure humidity.  

According to Gene LaNois, head of the professional channel at Nest, Nest Thermostat E is compatible with 85 percent of all HVAC systems in North America, compared to 95 percent of systems with the original Nest Learning Thermostat.

Nest Thermostat E opens up a larger mid-market opportunity for integrators. 

Speaking of the new lower price point, LaNois notes, “Having a slightly lower-cost smart device, enables us to reach another demographic of smart, energy-efficient buyers. Where $250 may have been too far of a stretch for some people, the MSRP of $169 certainly makes the NTE a lot more possible for another level of audience.”

New Mid-Market Opportunity

Campbell agrees and believes the Nest Thermostat E fits nicely with Just One Touch/Video and Audio Center’s philosophy on serving its clientele.

“We focus on what I call the three Ds of marketing: Discovery, Desire, Demand. If you don’t know the products exist, how can you want it? My job is to be sure that people know it exists, and see what it does. When they find out the price point, and the performance of the Nest Thermostat E, they’re going to buy it — there’s no question,” he says.

“I let customers know that I use Nest in my own home.”

— Tom Campbell, Just One Touch/Video & Audio Center

Because the CE Pro 100 company also has several retail locations, Campbell is excited about how he can use Nest Thermostat E in the showroom. “Once we demo consumers that product, they will want it installed. We used to have what we called showrooming, where the customer comes into the store to see a product, then goes home and buys it on the Internet. My job is to be sure they don’t go back home, and buy it, but they buy it from us,” he explains.

Just One Touch/Video & Audio Center does that by paying the sales tax, in most instances and offering a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. They also will deliver systems to clients’ homes if they are within 25 miles.

“Most Internet etailers cannot do that. Now, we’re finding a closing ratio of over 60 percent, which is phenomenal,” says Campbell.

LaNois says Nest Thermostat E is “transformational” for integrators such as Just One Touch/Video & Audio Center because it opens up a much larger middle market sales opportunity for them.

“I consider ‘home automation’ to be separate from what I call the ‘smart trade,’ which is the introduction of connectivity to the home through  smart and connected products. Home automation reaches a certain demographic of affluent buyers, and Nest’s new product introductions enable integrators to add to those traditional home automation systems for  those affluent buyers, and start to participate in a mass market business. The nice thing for all of those integrators who are jumping into the smart trade is that Nest has gone beyond the thermostat. Integrators can now maximize their sales potential by showing the full Nest ecosystem to their customers —  including the Nest app.  

ROI Impact

The return on investment from a new Nest Thermostat E is even more attractive due to some incentives and rebates offered by various local utilities.

“Some of these credits go as high as $125 or more,” says LaNois. “So with a device in a lower price range, the incentive rebate from the utility company becomes quite significant from the MSRP. For a customer  to have the ability to have a Nest smart thermostat in their home for $40 after rebate or even $20 in some cases, really makes it appealing for a lot of buyers.”

Campbell also believes the new price point lends itself ideally for a return on investment conversation with customers. “I let customers know that I use Nest in my own home, and my bill has gone down in Southern California, where we use air conditioning regularly due to the heat. In my own experience, Nest Learning Thermostat more than pays for itself. The cost savings are phenomenal.” 1

New Design

As mentioned, the new Nest Thermostat E moves away from the stainless steel finish of the original Nest Learning Thermostat to a polycarbonate, white ceramic design with a frosted display. “With Nest Thermostat E, we tried to design something that would blend into the background more subtly than what you’d see with the Nest Learning Thermostat,” explains LaNois. “A lot of people want the benefit of smart technology — including occupancy detection and setbacks — but they may not want the device to be so visible  on the wall.”

Campbell loves the new design and its ability to blend into a home’s drywall or plaster more elegantly. He says Video and Audio Center/Just One Touch has many clients in Southern California who view technology “as a statement of affluence.” “Nest was smart to come out with the new design,” he notes, and  adds there is a “big buzz” among many of his customers who love showing off their connected home products.. “It used to be, ‘What suit did you wear or what kind of shoes do you wear?’ Now, you’re in a person’s home, they look to see what kind of a television or thermostat you have.”

1 Results not typical. Independent studies showed that Nest saved people an average of 10% to 12% on heating and 15% on cooling. Based on typical energy costs, we’ve estimated average savings of $131 to $145 a year. That means the Nest Thermostat E can pay for itself in under two years. Individual savings are not guaranteed.

Get a 2nd-gen Nest thermostat for $139

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I’ve always wanted a Nest thermostat, but was never willing to pay $250 to get one. Sure, there’s the newer, cheaper Nest Thermostat E, but even that one’s $169 — and somewhat limited compared with big-brother Nests.

If you don’t mind a previous-generation model, today’s deal is hard to pass up: Home Depot has the refurbished 2nd-gen Nest Thermostat for $139 shipped (plus tax). That’s the lowest price I can recall seeing for any Nest ever.

(Before I go any further, let me note that your gas and/or electric company might offer a rebate on the purchase of any Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat — though it may have to be a new one. That’s worth investigating, because you could potentially get close to the same price on the newer, 3rd-gen, Nest. Here in metro-Detroit, for example, DTE Energy offers a $75 rebate, while Consumers Energy offers $50.)

Don’t let the “refurb” part bother you; it’s manufacturer-refurbished and comes with a full 1-year warranty. Translation: It’s literally good as new. And Home Depot even offers a 90-day return policy in case you decide it’s not working out for you.

The Nest is noteworthy for two things. First, you can control it from anywhere: bedroom, airport, etc. (There’s Alexa integration as well.) Of course that’s true of any modern smart thermostat, but I mention it because if you’ve never owned one, you’re in for a treat. It’s crazy-handy.

Second, the Nest learns your habits, and will adjust the temperature when no one’s around and then again when someone’s due home. The goal is to help you save money on heating and cooling costs. Does it really work? I think any programmable thermostat can net you energy savings; this one just requires less programming.

Should you consider an Ecobee instead? It offers one capability the Nest lacks: remote room-temperature sensors. But, man, does it need a UI overhaul; I have to wade deep into the menus just to turn off the HVAC.

One last thing: Make sure the Nest is compatible with your furnace. It should be, but you may need additional wiring, and that can get expensive. A little pre-purchase research makes sense — though, again, 90-day return policy.

Your thoughts?


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