Google’s Nest vs. Energy Management Systems

You’ve likely heard about Nest. It’s Google’s version of a smart thermostat for residential markets. Nest and its competitors (like EcoBee) are available at your neighborhood big box retail store. They’re quick to set up. They’re considered “smart” technology: they can be integrated with other home devices like doorbells, garage door openers, lights and more. Nest has made huge inroads into the residential market.

Nest is not a typical competitor in our industry. Nest targets the residential market and we, as EMS providers, work in a different target market: short term and transient residential, hospitality, student housing and senior living facilities.

That said, sometimes the lines between our markets blur, particularly in MDU’s (multi-dwelling units in major cities like New York) and military housing. Our sales staff is noticing increased interest in Nest within these markets.


We think it’s important to clarify the differences between a home-market thermostat and a smart thermostat as part of an energy management system.

Both thermostats are “smart”: they can communicate with other “smart” devices. They can sense occupancy and react accordingly. They can be controlled via mobile app.

That said, what Nest lacks is the power of an energy management system (EMS), which gathers, stores and analyzes data. An EMS is the powerhouse behind in-room energy savings up to 30-45%.

Command Center

An energy management system offers something Nest does not: a virtual dashboard of the HVAC systems of the entire property. At a glance, it displays which HVACs are running the hardest; which thermostat batteries need to be changed; which ones have been shut off because a patio door was left open.

Some EMS systems operate using ‘profiles’, sometimes called ‘scenes’. They are thermostat settings that can be applied to groups of thermostats at a property triggered by specific conditions. Think summer/winter profiles, or VIP profiles, where energy management is temporarily suspended. Profiles can save energy and maintenance man-hours (no more visiting individual rooms to switch to heat or cool mode when the seasons change).

And there’s demand response. How do you  adjust energy consumption for specific days and times for an entire property? Not with Nest. It’s done with an EMS.

Common Complaint

We’ve discussed this before but it bears repeating. There is a common complaint lodged by Nest users. Occupancy sensing only takes place in the room in which the Nest has been installed and they don’t live in that room alone. They’ve got an entire house they live in. Energy management providers address this by using occupancy sensors in other rooms, complementing the thermostat occupancy sensors. The sensors communicate with one another on the EMS network.

We hope we’ve given you some perspective on using a residential market product in property-wide thermostat management.

Don’t send a child to do man’s work. Did we just say that? Yes we did. But it could be woman’s work too. You get it.

Get in touch with the men (and women!) at Telkonet today, to learn more about energy management. sales@ or 888-703-9398.