Automation has been a topic of interest for hundreds of years. Science fiction writers from the 1800’s wrote about remote controls that could control various aspects of our lives, and Nikola Tesla even patented that very idea in 1898. But it wasn’t until the early 20th Century when automation finally became a reality.
Convenient access to electricity made it possible for people to bring automated machines into their homes. Appliances we take for granted today were once huge innovations and our lives are much easier because of them. Machines, like toasters, microwaves, and even the light switch, are all forms of home automated devices that are now considered “normal”.
But we’ve always wanted these gadgets to do more.
Thanks to the “Internet of Things” (IoT), the interconnection of devices inside our homes has never been easier. And one company that believes home automation should be a reality for everyone is Nest Labs, who was recently purchased by Google for $3.2 billion and is now giving away free products to anyone who wants them.
Free Smarthomes in Ireland!
Speaking earlier this week at the Web Summit, Nest Labs CEO Tony Fadell made a surprising announcement: Anyone living in Ireland can now get a free Nest Learning Thermostat by signing a two-year utility contract with Electric Ireland. This is major milestone for home automation technology because 1.2 million households currently rely on Electric Ireland to power their homes.
The Nest deal is similar to the two-year smartphone subsidy contract many people make with their wireless provider. And while the details of the Electric Ireland program weren’t explained in full detail, it will probably convince many people to install the Nest Learning Thermostat inside their home. And Ireland is just the first of many countries where a similar program could be initiated.
“[Nest will] bring it out to hopefully many more countries. This is a seminal event in Ireland [that] we think is going to change the world.”
— Tony Fadell, CEO of Nest Labs
The Nest Learning Thermostat is one of the best home automation products available today — but it’s not cheap. At $250 it costs about four times more than a traditional thermostat and not many people are willing to make such a major upgrade. But all that may change if people are able to get one for free.
The Nest Learning Thermostat is Smarter Than You Think
Unless you’ve used it, you probably have no idea how powerful the Nest Learning Thermostat really is. It does much more than just adjust the temperature inside your home and will actually save you money while conserving energy. In other words: It could be the most useful home appliance ever.
○ The Nest Learning Thermostat programs itself in about a week. It creates a personalized schedule based on the temperature changes you’ve made and continually adapts to your changing life.
○ After you’ve left the house, the Nest Thermostat senses you’ve gone and automatically adjusts the temperature to avoid heating or cooling an empty home.
- The Leaf
○ Want to know if you’re saving energy when you change the temp? The Nest Leaf appears when you turn Nest to a temperature that’s energy efficient. It guides you in the right direction.
- Remote Control
○ Change the temperature from anywhere using your smartphone, tablet or laptop. You can also adjust your schedule and check your Energy History.
The amount of money you can save by installing the Nest Learning Thermostat will depend on where you live, how big your home is, whether or not your home has central AC, and what type of heating system your home has in place. While the savings can vary anywhere between $25 to $150 a year, it’s enough for the device to pay for itself in a short amount of time. But the real savings come when you install other home automation devices to work in conjunction with the thermostat.
Home Automation is Not a Trend
Security systems, lighting, and even wireless routers can all contribute to your home automation setup and will save you thousands of dollars over time. And because most people are purchasing their homes with 30-year mortgages, these savings are significant. The amount you save is entirely up to you and many people are finding home automation is not only convenient, but also easy to install.
Potential Home Automation Tasks
The concept of a smarthome is not a trend. While we won’t be living like The Jetsons anytime soon, there are many statistics that prove home automation is not only here to stay; it’s going to get better. And with 2 billion people expected to be over the age of 60 by the year 2050, home automation may also become a necessity.
- 17.23 million wireless embedded smarthome monitoring devices were sold last year
- The U.S. home automation market will exceed $5.5 billion in 2016
- More than half-a-billion wireless smarthome devices will be installed worldwide by 2018
- 207.4 million people will own a smartphone (the “remote control” for home automation)by 2017
- 44% of people want to remotely monitor their home
The Nest Labs deal with Electric Ireland could potentially change the way we all live and it won’t be the first time Tony Fadell has done so. Affectionately known as the “godfather of the iPod”, Fadell changed the way we access music when he helped create the iconic music player. And just like he worked his magic at Apple a decade ago, he may also become the “godfather of home automation”.
The free Learning Thermostat being offered in Ireland is only part of what Nest Labs has to offer. The company also sells smoke and carbon alarms that could save a family’s life. And if enough Irish citizens can be convinced of the benefits of home automation, it’s only a matter time before you say “OK Google” every time you walk through the front door.
“The Nest Thermostat and Nest Protect are already helping people throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. save energy, stay comfortable, and improve home safety. While Nest products are currently sold in just three countries, there’s high demand for them around the world. In fact, Nest products have been installed by people in more than 120 countries and Nest Thermostats have already saved an estimated two billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy compared to what their owners would have spent on heating and cooling at a constant temperature. That’s enough energy to power 180,000 American homes for a year. Imagine what energy savings and safety improvements can be achieved now that Nest products will be available in – and customized for – France, Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland.”
— Lionel Paillet, General Manager of Nest Labs Europe
What do you think? Will free Learning Thermostats convince people to try home automation? What features inside your home do you want automated? What does the future of home automation look like? Let us know in the comments below!