By now, pretty much anyone with an Internet connection has heard about the Nest digital thermostat system. But did you know it has a ton of cool features that link up with almost every device in your home?
Lauded as the future of the smart house, the little device that made a big splash with Google has the ability to do everything from simple tasks like controlling the climate in each room, all the way up to syncing with your phone to turn the heat on before you even walk in the door.
Here’s a list of a few of our favorite Nest tweaks, hacks, and shortcuts you may not have known about.
Connect to a Fitness Tracker
Fitness trackers are great for a lot of things: helping you exercise more, sleep longer, and eat better overall. But did you know you can link your Jawbone UP with your Nest so it knows when you are sleeping, and knows when you’re awake?
Though it might sound like some sort of creepy surveillance Santa hiding in your walls, the Nest link between your fitness tracker actually helps you save money and stay more comfortable all at the same time. The Nest will take your sleeping data off the Jawbone’s readings, and as time goes on, synchronize when it warms up and when it cools down depending on the patterns you follow for waking up and going to bed.
This means you’ll never be stuck sleepily trying to get your settings right as you’re still wiping the morning sun out of your eyes, and won’t have to worry about whether the thermostat is turned off by the time your head hits the bed at night.
Sync with Google Now
At the tail end of 2014, the engineers at Nest decided it was time to start taking full advantage of their partnership with Google, and incorporate the Google Now feature into the thermostat’s ecosystem.
A few shortcuts using Google Now include the ability to set the temperature using the “OK Google” voice command, as well as the option to have your Nest keep tabs on where you are via the GPS in the phone itself. When your Nest detects that you’ve left the office and are on the way home, it will automatically begin pre-heating or pre-cooling the house depending on the season and your established preferences.
This feature isn’t exclusive to a single device either, and can be added to anyone’s Android phone who’s already been approved as a registered member of the household. And don’t worry about the kids messing with the thermostat while you’re away, because any action that happens between a Google Now account and the Nest will immediately send a Now card to the administrator in charge.
Protect Your House From a Fire
Going on vacation, but worried a shoddy electrical box could start up trouble once the van is packed and the family is on the road?
By utilizing the sensors of Nest Protect, you’ll get an alert texted to you anytime CO2 levels in the house rise above a safe level. Once the fire is confirmed visually through the Nest Cam, you can trigger your Rachio sprinkler system to start spraying water around the house in an attempt to quell the flames.
Plus, in case you’re asleep and don’t hear your phone, you can link the Nest up with LIFX bulbs, which will automatically begin flashing every light in the house bright red so anyone that’s walking by or lives on your street will know that something is happening in the house that needs their immediate attention.
Apply IFTTT Recipes
In our previous article on the “If This Then That” app, we covered the many different ways that the one-size-fits-all utilitarian tool was filling in many of the gaps that were still left in making the smart home as cohesive as it could be.
Whether these disconnects are down to lawyers or licensing agreements we can’t say for sure, but either way, IFTTT opens up your Nest to pretty much every other smart device in your home without fail. WeMo light switches, older Dropcam security cameras, and GE Smart Appliances can all be linked through IFTTT to perform a variety of tasks, depending on the trigger and action profile you set up beforehand.
Some highlights include telling your Nest to turn off the A/C if the Weather app on your iPhone detects it’s cool outside, linking up your Hue lights to turn on when the Nest knows you’ve walked in the door, or notify you if any motion is detected while the house is supposed to be empty.
Earn Extra Cash with OhmConnect
Here’s something you probably didn’t think the Nest could ever do… get you paid for using it.
With the help of a pilot program being tested in California, a new service from the startup OhmConnect will actually use peak energy usage statistics and “buyback” systems to resell your power back to the grid during the most costly hours of uptime.
So, say for example it’s 6:30pm on a particularly hot day. Normally this would be prime time for you and your family to be running the A/C at full blast, costing both you and the grid quite a bit of extra strain. OhmConnect works by syncing up with your Nest to send you notifications when the optimal time to turn down your usage hits, and helps to communicate with the climate control system to keep you just cool enough, all while the utility company repackages the power you would be using and charges it to the next door neighbor.
Over time you can earn anywhere from $50 to $150 per year with the system just by turning down your appliances about a half hour per day. For now, the program is still in the process of rolling out to other states besides California, but says confidently they have plans to make it into more markets by sometime around the end of 2016.
When the Nest first came out (and was quickly swooped up by Google), not a lot of people were sure what to do with it. Now though, there’s a swath of new devices like smart cams, smartphones, and smart wearables that can make your smarthome just a little bit brainier.