Nest Thermostat Review

Find out what's hot, cool, and just right with the Google Nest Thermostat in our review.
Best overall
  • pro
    Automated scheduling
  • pro
    Optional remote sensors
  • pro
    HVAC accessory support
Best budget Nest
  • pro
    Guided scheduling
  • con
    No remote sensors
  • pro
    Affordable
John Carlsen
Senior Staff Writer, Security & Smart Home
January 03, 2023
SafeWise is an independent review site. We may earn money when you click links on our site. Learn more.

Google's Nest Thermostat changed the energy savings game when it debuted in 2011. Now in its third generation, it still makes heating and cooling your house a breeze. The more you interact with the Nest Learning Thermostat, the faster it learns what you like and adjusts accordingly.

This learning thermostat is expensive initially but saves money and energy every month with features like auto-away and auto-schedule. At the end of the month, it generates an energy report highlighting how much you saved and how to improve your bill even more. Can your old thermostat do that?

pro
Pros
pro Automated and guided scheduling
pro Affordable remote sensors
pro Compatible with top security systems
pro Backup battery eliminates C-wire requirement
pro Delivers monthly energy reports
pro Notices whether you're home or away
pro Excellent HVAC system warnings
con
Cons
con No automatic scheduling on base model
con No remote sensors on base model
con Top-tier model requires 2 apps
con Installation is easy but lengthy
con Short energy usage history
con Not compatible with some HVAC systems

Compare Nest Thermostat vs. Nest Learning Thermostat

Price
Auto-away
Auto-schedule
Remote sensor
Smart home compatibility
Color options
Learn More
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Amazon, Google, IFTTTSnow, sand, fog, charcoal
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightOptional
Amazon, Google, IFTTT, SmartThingsStainless steel, polished steel, mirror black, white, black, copper, brass

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Bell
What happened to the Nest Thermostat E?

Google no longer sells the Nest Thermostat E in the United States—we recommend choosing a different model unless you live in a country where it's still available.

Video: What are smart thermostats and how do they work?

Play Video

Subscribe to our YouTube channel and learn how to protect your home, loved ones and, belongings.


Nest thermostat similarities

Both Nest thermostats offer Energy Star certification, easy installation, smart home integrations, and extensive energy-saving features. We love it. You can expect the following features, whether you’re getting the Nest Thermostat or Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Gen).

Energy-saving features

Nest offers so many energy-saving features that it's hard to keep track of everything—here are our favorites.

Home & Away Routines

Nest uses occupancy sensors and your phone's location to trigger an auto-away feature that adjusts the thermostat to an energy-saving Eco Temperature. Whether you're on vacation or around the block, the auto-away feature adjusts the thermostat to save the most energy and money.

Monthly energy report

One of our favorite features is the Nest Home Report, an email full of information about energy usage, what's using it, and how it compares to previous months. It's not as detailed as Ecobee's offering, but you'll find plenty of insights about your system.

The Nest Leaf

The iconic Nest Leaf appears on the thermostat's display when you choose an energy-saving temperature. It's a tangible goal to improve your energy usage in the long term, though it may leave you a little chillier in the winter or warmer in the summer.

Nest Renew

Nest Renew is a free service that helps tune your schedule to take advantage of off-peak energy prices, renewable energy, and seasonal changes. It's also a great way to learn about some of Nest's best energy-saving features:

  • Energy Shift can precool or preheat your home to move most of your energy usage to off-peak hours or when your rooftop solar panels are active, which can save on electricity bills. Rush Hour Rewards is similar but partners with your utility companies to help reduce demand on the grid.
  • Seasonal Adjustments and Seasonal Savings automatically adapt your settings during warmer and cooler weather. These are incredible tools for staying comfortable while making up to two adjustments per season.
Bell
Nest HVAC monitoring

Nest thermostats use HVAC monitoring to look for minor problems with your system. By tracking the system's effectiveness, the thermostat can spot early warning signs of equipment failure and remind you to keep up with regular maintenance when performance drops.

Smart home and security system compatibility

Both Google Nest Thermostats connect to smart home platforms like Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT, and Samsung SmartThings. Once connected, you can change the thermostat, set schedules, and use voice controls.

Nest Thermostats also connect to home security systems like ADT, Brinks, and Vivint. If you have other Nest devices like Nest cameras, you can set automations that make your home smarter.

Bell
"Works with Nest" integration change

In 2020, Google transitioned from "Works with Nest" integration to "Works with Hey Google," so most smart home gadgets dropped the "Works with Nest" compatibility.

Nest thermostat differences

Despite sharing many core features, Nest's thermostat models have different pricing, system compatibility, scheduling, design, and controls. Let's run through some key differences to help you determine which option is best for your needs.

Check out our retrospective on the original Nest thermostat to learn how it evolved.

Checklist
Nest thermostat pricing

You'll pay almost half as much for the Nest Thermostat (about $130) than the Nest Learning Thermostat (around $250). We recommend using the Nest thermostat compatibility checker and carefully considering the differences before you buy.

HVAC system compatibility

The Google Nest Thermostat uses fewer wire terminals than its pricier sibling—making it compatible with only 85% of 24V HVAC systems. Fortunately, it still works with most furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, and boilers, so there's a good chance your system's compatible.

While there's support for two-stage operation on the new Nest Thermostat, you must choose heating or cooling—it can't use both simultaneously. This means you can use two stages on your furnace but only a single-stage air conditioner—and vice versa. Likewise, Nest Thermostat won't work with HVAC accessories like ventilators, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers.

If your existing system uses HVAC accessories or simultaneous multistage heating and cooling, you'll want the Nest Learning Thermostat, which supports up to 95% of HVAC systems.

Light Bulb
Nest Temperature Sensor

The Nest Thermostat doesn't work with the remote Nest Temperature Sensor, so you'll need to upgrade to the Nest Learning Thermostat to use this add-on. It's great for helping track temperatures throughout your home instead of settling for whichever room or hallway hosts your thermostat.

Scheduling

The Google Nest Learning Thermostat's Auto-Schedule feature remembers when you regularly come and go and creates an estimated schedule for your home's temperature. This feature's convenience is key to Nest Learning Thermostat topping our rankings against Ecobee and Wyze.

It takes about a week for the thermostat to learn your routine. Feeling impatient? You can adjust it manually in the Nest app at regular intervals for the first few days or program a basic schedule as a template for the learning feature. It won't choose a temperature you haven't used, so interacting with your thermostat is the best way to teach it your preferences.

As great as Auto-Schedule is, it's not available on the basic Nest Thermostat. Instead, Nest uses a guided schedule to help program the thermostat to your liking. It's more work to set up than an Auto-Schedule, but there are plenty of helpful presets and customization options to fit your needs. Plus, the semi-automatic Savings Finder suggests new settings, which you can accept or dismiss.

Manually setting your schedule doesn't affect Nest Thermostat's other energy-saving features like Nest Renew, Seasonal Savings, Home & Away, and Eco Temperatures.

Design

Model
Display size
Controls
Materials
Battery backup
Farsight Icon Tooltip  Dark
Nest Thermostat2.4 in.Touch stripPlastic, glass2 AAA alkaline
Icon No  LightNo
Nest Learning Thermostat (3rd Gen)2.0 in.RingMetal, glassBuilt-in rechargeable lithium-ion
Icon Yes  LightYes

Each thermostat's price is apparent in the build quality—the budget Nest Thermostat uses more plastic than the premium metal construction of the Learning Thermostat. While both products use a backup battery to reduce reliance on a C-Wire for power, the Nest Thermostat's off-the-shelf AAA batteries aren't rechargeable like the Nest Learning Thermostat's built-in battery.

Display

Both Nest thermostat models are roughly the same size, but the Nest Learning Thermostat uses a smaller display with a higher resolution. It also boasts Farsight, which shows the time, weather, or current temperature when you walk by.

Even though the Nest Learning Thermostat's display looks better, the clean mirror finish of the Nest Thermostat is stunning in its own way. Nest doesn't use touchscreens, so consider a brand like Ecobee for that option.

Controls

You control the Nest Learning Thermostat by rotating the outer ring and pressing it toward the wall to confirm your settings. We love how natural this feels—going through menus and changing settings makes you feel like a safe cracker. In contrast, Nest Thermostat replaces the outer ring with a touch strip on the side of the device. It's easy enough to use but lacks the tactile satisfaction of the ring.

Light Bulb
How to read Nest thermostats

Reading a Nest thermostat is easy: the large number is the target temperature while the smaller number is the current temperature. Using Farsight on the Nest Learning Thermostat shows different information based on your settings.

Mobile apps

Okay, this is a weird one: Nest Learning Thermostat uses two mobile apps. You'll use the Nest app during installation and setup before switching to the Google Home app for everyday use. It's not a huge inconvenience, but hardly as streamlined as the Nest Thermostat, which exclusively uses Google Home.

(This model predates Google Home, so it's easier for Google to use the legacy Nest app instead of redesigning a thermostat from 2015.)

Checklist
Nest's warranty

Nest offers different warranty terms depending on the model you choose:

  • Nest Thermostat: One year
  • Nest Learning Thermostat: Two years

How Google Nest stacks up to other thermostats

Product
Best for
Price
Battery backup
C-wire required
Smart home compatibility
Learn more
Read review
Best overall
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Alexa, Google, IFTTT, SmartThings, Vivint, ADT
Best for Apple HomeKit
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Alexa, Google, HomeKit, IFTTT, SmartThings, Abode
Best for budgets
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Alexa, Google, IFTTT
Best for Ring users
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Alexa, Google, HomeKit, IFTTT, SmartThings, Cortana, Ring
Best password protection
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Alexa, Google, HomeKit, SmartThings

Amazon.com price as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

The best smart thermostats share similar automation features that give you control from afar—like a mobile app, easy scheduling, and self-adjusting technology. Installation is the same across the board too. Nest's learning thermostat stands out with its sleek look, monthly energy report, and long-term savings.

If you'd rather save money up front, brands like Ecobee and Honeywell have products that give Nest a run for its money. But if you want a thermostat with style and a couple of extra features, Google Nest is where it's at.

Installing a Nest thermostat

It takes only a screwdriver and some patience to install a Nest thermostat. Before you buy, make sure your current thermostat is compatible with Nest's wiring.

  1. Start by turning off your HVAC system, then pull the old thermostat off its base plate. Leave the plate in place for now.
  2. Label each wire based on its corresponding base plate terminal using the included wire labels. After labeling your wires, finish removing the old thermostat.
  3. Place the Nest base plate on the wall and secure it with the included screws. Both Nest models have a level to keep things straight.
    • Pulling the wires through the base's center hole keeps them out of the way during mounting.
    • Nest includes a trim plate with the Learning Thermostat that can cover screw holes from the previous thermostat. You must buy it separately for the Nest Thermostat.
  4. Now slide the wires into the labeled tabs of the base. Once they fit snugly, gently push any extra wire through the hole until it doesn't stick out.
  5. Snap on the display and turn the power back on.
  6. From here, it's all digital. You'll use the Nest Thermostat display to connect to Wi-Fi and the app. Then select language and temperature settings.

Adding Nest thermostat to a smart home

If you want to connect to a smart home right after setup, that adds a little more time but saves stress later.

  • Google Home: Modern Nest accounts use your Google account so your Nest Thermostat pairs with Google Home automatically. You may need to migrate old Nest accounts to Google.
  • Amazon Alexa: Alexa can use the Google Nest skill to connect to Nest products like the smart thermostat and security camera. Just add the skill in the Alexa app, and you're good to go!
  • Other systems: You can look up Nest in your system app and follow the prompts to link your accounts.

Check out our in-depth comparison to see how Amazon Alexa compares to Google Home.

Final word

With Nest, it takes money to save money, but you can find discounts through your local energy provider if you know where to look.

While they're expensive upfront, the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat can save you hundreds of dollars over the years. They pay for themselves with convenient features and send reports on how to save even more. It doesn't hurt that these smart thermostats are beautiful, either.

And while you can find similar features in other smart thermostats, their connectivity to smart speakers, security systems, and other products, like the Nest Cam battery, is unmatched.

Nest Thermostat FAQ

Do Nest thermostats really save money?

While it varies by household and how you use your Nest Thermostat, independent studies have shown up to 12% savings on heating and up to 15% on cooling.1

Check with your local energy provider to see if you can get a rebate for your new smart thermostat. Many companies offer credits and discounts up to $100 or more that help you save on the thermostat itself.

Is there a monthly fee for Nest thermostat?

Nope! There's no monthly subscription tied to Nest thermostats. But you can upgrade to Nest Renew Premium for $10 a month to buy renewable energy credits.

Can I install a Nest Thermostat myself?

Yes, it takes about an hour to go through the hardware and software setups, but even new DIY-ers can handle installing a Nest thermostat. You can find a Nest Pro if you prefer professional installation.

What's the best temperature to set my thermostat at?

The best temperature depends on the season and when you're home. During the cooler months, set your thermostat to around 68° F while you're home during the winter and 78° F during the warmer months when you're home. If you go on vacation during cooler months, set it to 55° F to keep your energy usage low while you aren't using the thermostat.2

What is Nest Seasonal Savings?

Nest Seasonal Savings makes gradual changes to your scheduled temperature settings at the beginning of summer (requires an air conditioner) and winter (requires a heater). It helps tune your system for the upcoming season and works to increase your energy savings. The difference after the tuning period is usually a degree or two on average.

Seasonal Savings is an opt-in program, so Nest asks you to enable it at the beginning of the season if there's potential for more savings. (If you already maximize your efficiency, Nest might not send a notification.) You'll receive progress updates in the app to see what's changing and by how much.

If you don't like the new temperatures, you can adjust your thermostat or schedule to say "that's too cold for me." Alternatively, you can opt-out of the program—but you can't turn it back on until Nest sends a new notification next season.

How we reviewed the Google Nest Thermostat

We got our hands on a Nest Learning Thermostat and took notes on installation and standout features (good and bad). This isn't the first smart thermostat we've reviewed, so we compared it to similar products to see if Nest really is the best. We also checked other reviews and installation videos to see how this learning thermostat worked for others.

We combined everything we learned about the device, its competitors, and customer reviews to create this comprehensive guide to both versions of Google's Nest Thermostat. Check out our methodology to learn more about how we conduct reviews on SafeWise.

Related articles on SafeWise


Sources

  1. Google Nest, "Real Savings | Nest." Accessed December 15, 2022.
  2. Energy.gov, "Thermostats," January 2013. Accessed December 15, 2022.
Disclaimers

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided "as is" and is subject to change or removal at any time.

†Google, Google Nest, Google Assistant, and other related marks are trademarks of Google LLC.

John Carlsen
Written by
John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist specializing in smart home devices, security cameras, and home security systems. He has over nine years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech—he was the Smart Home Editor for Top Ten Reviews and wrote for ASecureLife before joining SafeWise as a Staff Writer in 2020. John holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications, Journalism emphasis from Utah Valley University. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, photography, cooking, and starting countless DIY projects he has yet to complete.

Recent Articles

padlock on computer keyboard
Best Identity Theft Protection in 2023
We researched the offerings of five leading identity theft protection services, tallying everything from antivirus...
Abode, Frontpoint, ADT Safestreets logos as alternatives for Vivint
Alternatives to Vivint
Vivint isn’t for everyone. We researched and found three other home security systems to better...
man pointing at smart home control app on a tablet
The Best Smart Home Security Systems
We’ve tested and researched smart home security systems to help you find the right DIY...
woman adjusting thermostat in bright home
10 Best Home Security Systems of 2023
After hundreds of hours of tests and research, plus a combined 50+ years of experience,...