The Nest Thermostat is designed for one job (controlling your boiler for heating and hot water) but with a little trickery it's capable of a whole lot more. Here, we're serving up some top tips to get you up and running as well as a couple of nifty projects, from helping automate the rest of your home, to controlling electric heating.
Before you dig in, it's worth noting that some of the hacks are applicable only to the US or Europe so do check before you get too excited.
If you have a neat Nest Thermostat trick of your own, let us know in the comments.
1. Turn off your tech with IFTTT
Nest's automatic away mode drops the temperature in your home when you're not in, and it can be used to automatically enable or disable any security cameras that you have. More importantly, you can use the signal from the Nest to automatically control other devices via IFTTT.
Just create a rule that uses the ‘Nest set to Away’ trigger, and you can set an action that happens when you leave your home.
For example, you may want to turn off your Hue lights automatically. In reverse, you can use the ‘Nest Set to Home’ trigger to automatically perform actions when you return home, such as turning on some lights.
At the minimum, you can use Nest’s away mode to automatically save energy; at best, with a little more thought, you can automate your home in different ways.
2. Do more with Works With Nest
While IFTTT lets you build your own smart home rules, Nest has its own smart home rules for products that come under the Works with Nest umbrella. For example, if you enable the Works with Nest part of Philips Hue (in the Hue app select the Compass icon and tap Friends of Hue), you can turn on some powerful automations.
With Works with Nest, your Hue lights can turn off when you leave your home, and Nest will automatically turn your lights on and off to make it look as though you’re home; or, you can have your lights turn off when the Nest cam spots that there hasn’t been any motion in the room for a while. You can see a full list of devices that Work with Nest here.
3. Control an electric radiator
If you have electric heating, you can actually hook up your Nest Thermostat to an electric radiator via the Heat Link relay and some elbow grease - this hack is UK and Europe only, though. This DIY project requires pretty detailed instructions on what to buy and how to get everything connected so we've spun it out into its own how-to guide.
4. Shut down your heating with Nest Protect
Nest isn’t just about convenience, it can also make your home more secure and safer. One great example of this is if you have a Nest Protect and a Nest Thermostat connected to a gas boiler. In the event that the Nest Protect picks up a carbon monoxide leak, it can automatically turn off your Nest Thermostat, preventing your boiler from running and contributing to the leak.
As the app points out, you should still leave your home until you get an expert to check out the issue and verify that everything is safe.
To turn on this setting, you need to have your Nest Thermostat set so that it knows it’s connected to a Gas boiler (this setting is in the Pro menu under Equipment). Then, to enable the setting, open the Nest app, go to your Nest Protect and select Settings, Works with Protect. Make sure that the Emergency Shutoff: CO feature is turned on.
5. Control home devices with the fan output
While US Nest Thermostat owners can’t follow our exact guide to controlling an electric radiator, it doesn’t mean that you can’t control other devices. With US Nest Thermostats, there’s a 24V fan relay, which may not be connected to anything. This cable can be used to automatically control other devices.
MakeUseOf points out that using a WeMo Maker and WeMo switch, you can use this relay to automatically control other devices, say turning your air-con on and off automatically. As the instructions use IFTTT to trigger actions, you could control other devices and have them turned on and off automatically, such as a dehumidifier.