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Google's $130 Nest Thermostat features an all-new touch-based design

Cherlynn Low
·Reviews Editor
·5-min read

It’s been ten years since Nest first launched its first smart thermostat, and it’s become the most popular brand in the connected home temperature control space. If you’ve seen one of its products, you’ll recognize the distinctive puck-like shape and rotating edge controls. Now that it’s ten years old, though, it’s time for the thermostat to get a glow up. Google is launching the new Nest Thermostat today for $130, and it features an impressively sleek, attractive makeover that’ll make the device look less like a bump on your wall and more like an elegant ornament. It’s available in four colors —snow, sand, charcoal, and fog and looks significantly smaller than before.

Google was able to make the thermostat so much slimmer in part because it got rid of the spinning wheel in older models and replaced it with a touch sensitive edge. Instead of rotating the frame around the device to adjust the temperature, you’ll tap or swipe up and down along the side to interact with it.

One of the things that stands out about the new Thermostat’s design is its mirrored display, which not only has a beautiful finish but also wakes up when you approach it to show you pertinent info like the current indoor temperature, target temperature and whether it’s in cooling or heating mode. Google uses the same Soli radar technology here that it showed off on the Pixel 4 to detect motion, and combines that data with your geo-fencing parameters to tell if you’ve left home.

When it realizes no one’s around, the new Thermostat will automatically go into Eco mode and keep your home at a temperature you specify that requires less energy. So on a cold day, your home can chill at 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) if no one’s in and only start warming up after you return. Existing Nest thermostats already have this feature, but the new product is the first to use Soli detection to see if people are home.

With the new thermostat, Google is also introducing a redesigned controller view to make it easier to set a temperature. This is also the first time you can control a Nest thermostat via the Home app, and it enables new tools like customizable schedules. Compared to the Learning Thermostat, which currently only offers automatic schedules, the new Quick Schedule feature lets you set temperature profiles based on your preferences.

Maybe you’d like Friday evenings to be cooler because that’s your baking day and your oven heats up your entire home — you could preset that. You can also override schedules so your house can stay warm till later in the night if you’re powering through a tight deadline way past your bedtime. You’ll also be able to use the temperature Hold feature to have your home stick to your most comfortable setting.

Nest Thermostat 2020
Nest Thermostat 2020

The Home app integration also brings with it Assistant and Alexa capabilities, so you can tell your smart speaker or display to change the temperature. With the new Home app and Assistant integration, the Nest Thermostat is easier to control from your couch or on your way home.

What’s often less easy to do is to install the thermostat in the first place. Nest has made its older products relatively simple to install by offering compatibility widgets on its site and helpful instructions in the box. With the new thermostat, you can also refer to the Home app for a colorful, animated guide that sort of looks like a tutorial on how to defuse a bomb. According to Google, you should be able to install it “in 30 minutes or less” and it “works in the majority of houses.”

With its latest product, Nest will monitor your HVAC system to alert you if anything seems off (via the Home app or email). It’ll offer to connect you to a qualified technician in your area with preferred pricing or through Google’s partner Handy. You’ll have to pay for the technician to fix your problem, but Google says the providers it connects you with offer money-back guarantees so if there isn’t an issue you may not be charged. Older Nest thermostats will be able to access this feature later this month as well.

Nest Thermostat 2020
Nest Thermostat 2020

One big reason people want a smart thermostat is to help monitor and curb their energy use. The new Nest thermostat has a feature called Savings Finder to look for ways to cut down your spending, and will suggest ways like adjusting your Eco mode or sleep temperatures. You can choose to accept these recommendations in the Home app. Google said this feature works throughout the year to look for ways to save energy, so you can let your home heating system work less hard if we’re experiencing a warm winter, for example.

Finally, since the new Nest Thermostat is Energy Star certified like its predecessors, you might qualify for rebates in your state as well as other offers. You can check your eligibility through the Google Store when buying the device, and depending on the utility provider in your area, you might be able to apply the rebate at checkout. You can also buy a Trim Kit in a matching color for $15 if you need to cover any scratches or scuffs you made during installation.

For those who still prefer the rotating wheel of the existing Learning Thermostat, you can still buy it — the new Thermostat will retail alongside. The $169 Thermostat E from 2017 will become exclusive to Pro installers. If you already want a new Nest Thermostat, you can pre-order it starting today, and it’ll ship in the coming weeks.