Nest Renew helps Nest thermostat users reduce carbon footprint


Not sure where to begin when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint? If you have a Nest thermostat, Google’s new Nest Renew service can help ensure that the energy you’re using is both cleaner and cheaper.

Slated to roll out in the coming weeks, Nest Renew packs a feature called Energy Shift that allows a compatible Nest thermostat to prioritize heating and cooling activities at times when cleaner energy is available on your local power grid.

Speaking during an event Tuesday during which Google outlined a series of new sustainability measures and features, Nest Director of Product Management Ben Smith said that Energy Shift can also work with the time-of-use rate plans that an increasing number of public utilities are offering. Under these plans, consumers can realize steep discounts on their energy bills by shifting their consumption to off-peak hours, when there’s less demand.

If your power company has a time-of-use plan, Nest Renew’s Energy Shift feature can adjust your Nest thermostat’s temperature targets so your HVAC system operates to heat and cool your home during off-peak hours, while “maintaining the comfort of your home,” Smith said. Energy Shift users will still be free to manually adjust their Nest thermostats, Smith added.

Using Energy Shift also lets you earn Renew Leafs, similar to the Leafs that Nest thermostats currently display when you’re saving energy. Earn enough Renew Leafs to reach a milestone, and you can vote to direct Nest Renew funds to your favorite green nonprofits (or at least those partnering with Google, such as GRID Alternatives and Elevate) through Google’s Energy Impact Program.

In addition to the “basic” version of Nest Renew, which is free, Google will also offer a Nest Renew Premium subscription that lets you more directly support providers of renewable energy.

For $10 a month, the Clean Energy Match feature in the Premium tier will match your estimated fossil-fuel energy consumption with “high quality” Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)—aka “green tags”—from Google’s portfolio of U.S. wind and solar energy projects, starting with the Bethel Wind project in Falls County, Texas.

One REC (for those who aren’t aware) is a tradeable commodity representing the generation of one megawatt-hour of power from renewable resources such as the wind or the sun. When companies or individuals purchase and “retire” RECs—i.e., they take them off the market once they’ve purchased them, so they can no longer be bought or sold—they can also claim that their homes or businesses are either partially or fully powered by renewable energy. This is based on the number of RECs retired as a percentage of their actual energy consumption. Head over to Vox for an excellent explainer on RECs.


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