Big Changes Coming for Nest Thermostats

Photo credit: George Frey / REUTERS

Quite a few people have taken advantage of the smart thermostats made by Nest, allowing them to adjust settings from anywhere they have a data connection. Now a big change is coming by the end of March as Nest plans to close down MyEnergy, the energy data service it picked up three years ago.

While this might not be the best news for Nest users, the company is making information about energy usage. The catch is the usage reports are only accessible once the user’s energy provider connects up with Nest.

Before Nest bought MyEnergy, it operated under the name EarthAid. The company started up back in 2007. It’s been a useful tool for anyone with one of the smart thermostats who want to find ways to conserve energy. Different algorithms gather and then analyze usage stats. Users are then presented with a variety of recommendations about how to reduce their energy consumption.

Nobody at the moment is really sure why MyEnergy is getting shut down. Speculation has run the range from too much competition via other energy data analyzation services to a lack of interest from users. Nest did tell Fortune magazine that the new setup means users won’t have to provide their utility account info, which includes their username and password. Instead, they authorize the energy provider to share data directly with Nest. In other words, Nest is spinning this as a security improvement, which seems to make sense.

A growing number of energy providers are leveraging Nest and other smart thermostats as a way to decrease usage at peak times of the day. They set up a demand response system, which automatically adjusts the temperature as a way to cut the load on the grid. These programs have been successful enough that some energy providers will give a discount on a Nest smart thermostat, or will even give them away for free.

The closing of MyEnergy probably means that Nest will start collaborating with energy providers even more than in the past. That’s a big change versus the customer-focused strategy.

There are quite a few other companies out there that will help generate detailed reports on users’ energy consumption. Such services come in handy when you’re not sure where else you can cut back, showing you where the different features of a smart home can be better leveraged.

Nest has been expanding its offerings lately. While not moving away from smart thermostats, it’s providing more smart home features like a connected smoke alarm and video system.