But in the same way Apple convinced millions of people that they really, really wanted to put their entire music collection in a little silver box, so Nest has convinced me that I need my boiler to be connected to the internet.
This is partially – maybe even mostly – achieved by making the thermostat look really cool. The 3rd generation is available in a funky copper colour, with an even bigger, fish-eye display that switches on and peers at you when you approach it, like a benevolent HAL from 2001. But instead of switching off your oxygen supply, all it wants to do is optimise the temperature in your house.
It does this in a number of ingenious ways. It connects to your phone through an app, so it knows when you’re not in, and adjusts the heating appropriately. Even if you’ve left your phone at home, it uses its motion sensors to work out if anyone is in. It even hooks up with any other Nest devices you have, such as the Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, to further coil its tendrils around your domestic routine, using its array of sensors to hone its digital image of the life led by you and your family.
It will gradually work out your daily schedule and begin to switch the heating on or off by itself, knowing when you’ll want to be warm even before you do. If you’re on holiday, there’s an “Eco” mode, which ensures the temperature never falls below a set value (nine degrees by default), so your pipes won’t burst and your goldfish don’t end up ensconced in an icy sarcophagus.
There’s also a “history” tab in the app that tells you how long the heating has been on each day. When I was away on a work trip, my partner burned the heating for 16.5 consecutive hours. Now at least I can remotely turn it off.
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