It should come as no surprise that the future of home control comes from the same mind that created the iPod. Tony Fadell's Nest is redefining home control, much like the iPod and the iPhone have redefined our connection to music, the internet and the connected world.
Nest came about as Fadell was tackling his dream home project and growing frustrated by the lack of home control options on the market that were smartphone app-ready. Balking in the face of $500 HVAC control that were clunky and unresponsive, he and software developer Matt Rogers cofounded Nest and released a digital thermostat of the same name in October of 2011.
With Nest's second generation thermostat now on the market (it became available in October 2012), the company is getting some high praise for a device whose round design is a throwback (deliberate or not) to the analog thermostats of old.
Nest is light years ahead of any competition in the space. The simplified design features a knob you can turn to adjust the temperature and a display. That's it. No up or down arrows. No "program" or "end of day" buttons to click and hold and fiddle with to set programs and schedules. That's what the app is for.
That's if you need to do any setting at all. The best part of Nest is that it "learns" the occupants' schedules within a few days of installation and will start automatically adjusting the temperature accordingly. It can also detect when the house is empty, and will lower the temperature then, too.
Preliminary estimates suggest Nest has already save owners from using 225 million kilowatt-hours of energy -- or $29 million in energy costs.
As heat wave after heat wave sweep across the States, homes everywhere are looking for better and cheaper ways to keep cool, particularly at night. The office space may provide AC during the working days and the pool or swimming hole some respite in the after-hours, but keeping the bedroom cool for a full 8 hours becomes everyone's priority when the sun sinks but the mercury doesn't.
For those who can't afford an AC or would prefer to save money at night, Brookstone has introduced the Brookstone Bed Fan with wireless remote. A bed-specific product, the fan is designed to tuck in between the top and bottom sheets and lowers body temperatures through "variable speed and targeted airflow."
The selling point for the Brookstone Bed Fan is the ease with which the unit can be placed to cool just one or both occupants of a big bed. That and the wireless remote, which lets you control the fan without having to get up from the cool comforts of the bed.
Lennox recently announced the arrival of their icomfort Wi-Fi Thermostat, a remotely enabled thermostat that enables homeowners to control their home's temperatures from anywhere at anytime.
Remote control of the home's HVAC system is nothing new, but typical remote control systems see the HVAC (thermostat) tied into a bigger system that then connects to the internet and can be controlled remotely. The Lennox thermostat is stand-alone Wi-Fi capable, meaning the device itself connects to the internet. This eliminates the need for a whole-home control system or hub of any kind.
The unit can be controlled via web-enabled devices or smart phones, alerts the user when repair or maintenance needs arise, can easily integrate with a home's air purifier system and dehumidifier and displays real-time weather. It will monitor outdoor conditions and make automatic adjustments to the inside environment for the best in comfort.
Seems like a cool device and one that most homeowners wouldn't mind dishing out a little extra for. Would you buy one?
Nine different manufacturers and distributors of pourable gel fuel have announced the recall of their products due to flash fire and burn hazards. When consumers add the pourable gel to an already burning pot the gel can ignite unexpectedly and splatter onto nearby people and objects.
There have been 65 incidents reported concerning the gels, with 34 victims hospitalized with second and third degree burns and two fatalities.
An additional 7,000 Touch Point Oscillating Ceramic Heaters were recalled by the CPSC and importer Meijer, Inc., of Grand Rapids, Mich. This is on top of the original 6,700 recalled back in November of 2010. The oscillating mechanism in the heaters can short out, posing a fire hazard to consumers.
The company has received two reports of incidents involving fires that resulted in property damages, although there have been no reports of injuries so far.
Manufactured in China, the units were sold at Meijer stores in Michigan and the surrounding states for about $25 between October 2009 and April 2011 but discount retailers, dollar stores and flea markets sold the units for various prices from November 2010 through April 2011, after the recall notice.
Consumers who own a unit should stop using it immediately and take it to the nearest Meijer store for a full refund.
Almost 500,000 bottles and jugs of NAPAfire and FIREGEL pourable gel fuel have been recalled by Napa Home & Garden due to a fire and burn hazard. The portable gel fuel can ignite unexpectedly and splatter onto people nearby when it is poured into a fireboat that is still burning.
Napa has received 37 reports of incidents, which includes 23 burn injuries.
Consumers can return the bottles or jugs where they were purchased to receive a full refund. Additional information can be found on the Napa website.
Apparently Napa is working on a retrofit for their fireboats.
As an aside, I have sympathy for those injured and I wish them a speedy recovery. But I find it interesting that the gel fuel would be recalled when the only reason the fuel posed a hazard was when consumers poured it on an already lit fire. Maybe the substance is a little harder to control than, say, lighter fluid, but it seems to me that pouring any flammable substance -- particularly a fluid or gel -- onto a lit fire is just asking for trouble.
Let's hope Napa gets this issue sorted out and there are no more injuries.
Here are some great summer cooling tips, courtesy of ENERGYSTAR:
Ditch the incandescents. Not only do they use more energy, they produce more heat. Swap them out for CFLs or LEDs.
Get with the program. Anyone who hasn't installed a programmable thermostat is simply being foolish. They are affordable, easy to install on your own and can help save a significant amount on energy bills.