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Lawsuit claims Nest thermostats fail to save money or correctly measure temperature

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A disgruntled customer is suing Nest(s goog), claiming that the company’s popular line of home thermostats are defective because they heat up and fail to measure a room’s actual temperature.

In a complaint filed this week in San Jose, Maryland man Justin Darisse said he bought the device on Amazon for $249.99 after seeing Nest promotional videos that suggested it would save him money, but that faulty temperature readings caused him to actually pay more for energy costs:

Nest’s base and faceplate heat up, which causes Nest’s temperature reading to be from two to ten degrees higher than the actual ambient temperature in the surrounding room. This defect prevents the thermostat from working properly. As a result, Nest users do not experience the advertised energy savings.

The lawsuit, which asks a court grant class action status, points to video images like the one below to claim Nest did not work as promised:

Nest ad screenshot

The complaint seeks more than $5 million on behalf of hundreds of thousands of other Nest buyers over alleged the company’s alleged violation warranty and consumer protection laws. Nest, which was acquired by Google in January, declined to comment.

Nest has won plaudits for its stylish design and use of smart sensors to improve home energy efficiency. If the lawsuit is successful, however, it could hurt its reputation among cost-conscious consumers like Darisse, who stated that “he would have continued to use his traditional Honeywell Thermostat that retails for around $30.00″ had he known about the alleged defect.

According to the complaint, many Nest customers have taken to online comment boards to complain about different temperature readings between Nest devices and other home thermostats. It also states an advertising body told Nest to stop making certain claims such as a promise that its device can “cut AC runtime up to 30 percent.”

You can read the complaint, which was spotted by Law360, for yourself here (I’ve marked up some of the relevant bits):

This story was updated at 3:44pm ET to say that the complaint seeks at least $5 million, not $500 million, from Nest.

Nest Class Action

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25 Responses to “Lawsuit claims Nest thermostats fail to save money or correctly measure temperature”

  1. The real problem with NEST is that it uses the closest internet weather station for outdoor temperature instead of an on-site temperature sensor.

    In the winter, the closest weather station can be 10 F colder than the actual temperature at the house.

    So the stupid NEST wants to run the expensive backup heat instead of the super efficient heat pump.

    This is a more plausible basis than what’s mentioned in the current law suit.

  2. The real problem with the NEST is that it uses the closest weather site for outdoor temperature instead of an on-site temperature sensor.

    For our house, the closest internet weather site is typically 10F colder than it actually is at my house.

    So the stupid NEST wants to run my expensive backup heat instead of my high efficiency heat pump.

    I’m surprised no one has sued them for this real energy/money waster.

  3. EnergyStar

    it works well if you have a standard suburban type single family home. We have an older home with lots of quirks and it does not seem to adapt well. Had to swap back in the regular programable one.

  4. Taking into some of the comments here, it seems that Nest is far from flawless. There’s a type of person that likes to dabble with technology but ultimately usually ends up messing it up, this applies to smartphones, Ipads, everything.

    The market is far from sewn up and it would be nice to see a comparison table taking into account price, features, amount of money saved using them. Heat Genius is a similar solution which learns how you use each room, scheduling radiators individually based on your movements in the house.

  5. It’s an ILLUSION of saving money to make you feel better. It’s a “Democrat” product, you pay tons of money for this thing to feel “green” because you somehow hate your and other human existence so much after buying that Prius and “have to do something” because human life is the scum of this planet while “nature” is OK with thousands of species literally crapping on public streets and your front yard! Then wham! up the rear with reality, you not only wasted your money, but you have higher heating / cooling bills and you supported child labor in China and the leaching of toxic byproducts into a small village for them to die. Some will refuse to admit this and trick their mind into saving a gallon of propane, but the truth remains …

    LOL… OK, rant aside now (mostly) … You can’t have it both ways, a little device isn’t going to magically seal your leaking windows. All it does it make you miserable by allowing a HUGE swing in temperature instead of a more precise regulation to keep you comfortable. When it “learns” you are away, it’s even worse. It will let the temp swing even MORE then hurry and try to recover when you are back. Science dictates that you not only have to heat the cold air back up when coming back home, but you have to raise the temperature of EVERY piece of mass there including 20 tons of furniture, 10 tons of drywall, 40 tons of flooring and foundation and so on. On top of that, the daily swings in temp will start to crack your drywall, make your wood floors buckle, add to cracking in the foundation and even increasing MOLD… Very illogical! On top of it, they get to spy on you! It’s a product for fools! ;)

  6. hvactech

    Nest sucks, this is just one of the many issues it has. The thing is, Nest doesn’t have many issues that apply to ALL owners, but many problems that will pop up if you have certain network or HVAC configurations. Because I’m an HVAC technician who installed tons of these before I knew how crappy they were, I’ve seen it all. Now I get to go back and fix all the problems this thing has caused. No other thermostat has these problems. And if you actually PROGRAM your Honeywell you’ll save just as much energy as Nest.

  7. Clarkus978

    I noticed last night that something must be wrong with mine. I set the heat to 71 degrees and I woke up to 77 degrees while the Nest was still set to 71 degrees. I figured there must be a new software update that needed to be pushed to it…

    • Wow, some pretty biased comments here, some suspiciously from non-Nest owners I would suspect! I had similar problems as Darisse, but with a wildly overpriced (but cool looking) $250 temperature sensing device, it never occurred to me a fundamental aspect of its functionality might be flawed. I did however since test it using two different devices using two different techniques – yup. Off by up to 4C (7F) to ambient temperature, and yes the body of it emits heat. So the Nest Protect can’t protect and the Nest Thermostat can’t read a temperature. I think I see a flaw in their business model. It the thing cost me $30, I’d chalk it up to inferior technology. But..uhm..$250 premium device which can’t read the proper temperature? That’s embarassing. If only “looking cool” could manage my home’s temperature, we’d be good to go.

  8. Nest Gen 1 user here (since Mar 2012)

    Mine reads accurately and works precisely as intended. It absolutely saves me $ due in large part to the auto-away function.


  9. Mine in 2-6 degrees higher than an indoor thermometer mounted right next to it unless I disable wi-fi. Not a problem in winter, but I could see this costing me more in the summer if I don’t fiddle with the settings. Unfortunately it’s not consistent. If it were always, say five degrees off then I could tell it that I want it to be 75, not 70 inside.

    • NRG Pro

      What’s in a number ? Change the language to Klingon and adjust the stat to your comfort. You will find peace, tranquility and so long as the balance is set to max savings and the away feature is activated you will save on heating and cooling energy costs. It’s almost impossible not to.

  10. I think it is nonsense. My nest thermostat has saved me tons of money. Sure, if I sit there and play with it a little bit it does heat up a little, and the air might kick on for a few minutes unnecessarily — but I am not constantly activating it, so it doesn’t get a chance to heat up and cause any problem. This user just doesn’t understand how this thing works.

    • archonic

      Essentially what you just said:

      “Sure, it’s flawed and doesn’t work as advertised, but this guy can’t expect things to actually live up to their hype!”

  11. I don’t know anything about my Nest heating up but there are problems with it:

    1) The target temperature has to be the same for an hour, minimum. So you can’t set it to come up in the evening (say when you’re coming home late) and then immediately cool off. So when I get home late and then go right to bed I have to turn the temperature down myself — my old Honeywell programmable thermostat did better. This costs me more fuel than the Honeywell did.

    2) If you run a wood stove, it believes you haven’t run the furnace because the day is warmer. I.e. it only compares the inside temperature with previous inside temperatures, rather than using the outside temperature (which it monitors even if it doesn’t use) to compute your norm.

    I complained to Nest about both of these when I first bought it (a year and a half ago). I even posted on their web blog. My concerns were never addressed and my posts were deleted!!

    I like my Nest for the web component primarily (and it IS beautiful), but its claims about itself don’t hold up as far as I can tell against other programmable thermostats…maybe they save money for people who never had a programmable one in the first place.

    • Or, you know, the device has an actual issue?

      “Nest’s base and faceplate heat up, which causes Nest’s temperature reading to be from two to ten degrees higher than the actual ambient temperature in the surrounding room.”

      This sounds pretty damn major to me.