Goodbye dumb thermostat, hello smart Nest thermostat (which like other Nest products, is brought to you by Google). It’s the gift that keeps on giving you comfortable temperatures and reasonable heating bills. Fortunately, getting it up and running also isn’t as daunting as it might seem.
Your first step, which you or your loved one hopefully did before you bought it in the first place, should be to make sure that your wiring is compatible. Otherwise, no dice. Fortunately, Nest has a tool to check for compatibility yourself. The short version: If you have “thick, stranded wires held together by wire nuts” under your current thermostat cover, this isn’t going to work out. If you have two labels for each wire … it might.
Once you’ve confirmed your Nest compatibility, go ahead and shut off power to your HVAC system for safety’s sake. Then you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and do some handiwork. Everything you need—except maybe the proper screwdriver—is included in the box. As far as home upgrades go, it’s pretty straightforward; you just remove your old thermostat, attach the Nest base, connect the wires, and attach the Nest display. There are enough steps within those steps that your best bet is to follow along with this video guide:
Or better yet, if you don’t trust yourself with anything electrical, Nest makes it easy to find a professional in your area who can help. And, if you have any other questions, be sure to refer to Nest’s own step-by-step instructions.
Once your Nest is installed and powered on, you’ll need to connect it to your home Wi-Fi network. From there, just use it like you would any other thermostat. Within a few days, Nest will learn your habits and make those adjustments on its own.
Physical installation is also just one part of the process. A lot of the “smart” in your smart thermostat comes from hooking it up with your phone. For that, just download the Nest app and create a Nest account. From there, you can use your smartphone (or computer) to change the temperature remotely and keep track of your energy usage.
Becoming the Nest Expert
This setup guide was updated in December 2020
How to Set Up All Your New Tech
You got a cool gadget! You lucky duck. Now you’ve gotta set it up. You poor sap. WIRED’s master guide can help.