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Google's Business Plan For Nest: Selling Your Data To Utility Companies

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the selling-to-burglars-would-be-wrong dept.

Google 167

jfruh (300774) writes "Google spent $3.2 billion on Nest. How is it going to make its money back selling high-end electronic thermostats at $250 a pop? Well, keep in mind that Google is a company that makes its money off information, not hardware. In fact, Nest is developing a healthy revenue stream in which it sells aggregated user information to utility companies, to help them more efficiently plan their electricity-generation scheduling. The subscriptions net Google somewhere in the range of $40 per user per year."

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But they already bill me (5, Insightful)

scorp1us (235526) | about 4 months ago | (#46841277)

The power company already knows how much I use and when. In fact they send me this energy statement saying I'm using 10% more than my neighbors.

Re:But they already bill me (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841371)

But they don't specifically know how much energy goes into heating and AC, vs. other household uses.

Say it looks like there's going to be a heat wave next week, it's going to be 100+ for a couple weeks straight, how much extra energy are you going to use (and by extension everyone else like you). If you're using 10% more energy than your neighbors because you're growing pot your increased demand is going to be lower than if you use 10% more energy because you keep the house at 55 degrees to slow the decay of your roadkill collection.

Re:But they already bill me (3, Funny)

Entropius (188861) | about 4 months ago | (#46841885)

I keep my roadkill collection at 30 below in a well-insulated laboratory freezer. It's far more efficient (and the pot likes temps above 55).

Re:But they already bill me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841407)

They know how much you use over the course of the month, but the vast majority of meters do not know when in the month you used the energy. These types of smart metering devices are extremely useful for utility companies planning for peak load values, and for developing predictive models of energy use in response to weather changes. For example, on days when the temperature raises 20 degrees between 8am and noon, what will be the energy consumption at 3pm? Knowing this type of information is very important to control costs when scheduling power generation.

Re:But they already bill me (2)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 4 months ago | (#46842113)

They know how much you use over the course of the month, but the vast majority of meters do not know when in the month you used the energy. These types of smart metering devices are extremely useful for utility companies planning for peak load values, and for developing predictive models of energy use in response to weather changes.

Meters exist for billing. Utilities have access to all kinds of utilization metrics collected from the infrastructure itself in real-time at any time resolution they feel like collecting for purpose of developing predictive models separate from meters. Data including transformer / transmission loss and voltage/phase/power factor you don't get from residential meters.

If you live next to Sub-Zero or Pikachu their abnormal energy utilization is smoothed out by neighbors. Unless your into smelting aluminum fine grained meter data is mostly worthless for planning.

However from a billing perspective it can provide insights allowing utility companies to maximize profits especially in areas where cost per kw changes throughout the day.

I can see arguments for increasing data = better decisions and optimizations of production resources.. yet in the real world over time I think it more likely to see data be used to maximize profits and minimize infrastructure investments to the detriment to consumers.

One analogy what if Internet was metered from the very beginning like old school cell data access rates? We would consume a lot less and as a result the build out of infrastructure supporting tens to hundreds of GB fiber links would have been significantly delayed due to lack of demand. Residential 100mbit broadband packages would simply not exist.

By inconveniencing the user you no longer feel pressure to invest in infrastructure and development of supporting technology such as temporary energy storage to buffer peak demand.

Re:But they already bill me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841427)

The power company already knows how much I use and when. In fact they send me this energy statement saying I'm using 10% more than my neighbors.

Ah yes, but with heat and motion sensors, and all the other shit that Nest collects, the power company will now know your exact habits.

What they will do with that data isn't some mystery. They'll figure out how to monopolize it too.

Re:But they already bill me (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 4 months ago | (#46841441)

>The power company already knows how much I use and when. In fact they send me this energy statement saying I'm using 10% more than my neighbors.

Yeah. I just can't see the value in shelling out 40 bucks a person (which can be a substantial chunk of their revenue, okay maybe not for PG&E but in sane parts of the country) when they already have time of day usage stats, and have upgraded to SmartMeters in most places.

Re:But they already bill me (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 months ago | (#46841539)

Maybe they are also selling the utilities other info besides just the thermostat settings - obviously the big G has other probes into your life and perhaps they are correlating the power use info with data gleaned from other products / sources (like that camera in the Nest smoke detector - say 'Hi' to your cameraman).

Re:But they already bill me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841493)

Yea, several people pointed that out when this story was posted a week ago
http://yro.slashdot.org/story/14/04/18/2021205/how-nest-and-fitbit-might-spy-on-you-for-cash

Re:But they already bill me (0)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about 4 months ago | (#46841583)

I think they can gleam that same information from a smart meter.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com... [washingtonsblog.com]

they do, but others might want to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841611)

YOUR energy company knows already how much you use.
Their competitors might want to know as well...

Re:But they already bill me (3, Informative)

unimacs (597299) | about 4 months ago | (#46841673)

The utility company doesn't know when you go to bed at night, when you get up in the morning, when you leave for the day, and when you get back. The NEST does.

Further the NEST knows how long it takes to warm or cool your home to a given setting as it relates to weather conditions. The NEST knows how quickly your home loses heat in the winter and how fast it heats up in the summer.

Re:But they already bill me (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#46841839)

It's the schedule. You have your thermostat set to turn the air on at 6am and go off at 8pm. The power company knows what you had it set to yesterday, but they do not know what it's set to today. Did you just press the hold button? Turn it off? All of this could give power companies great insight into what their electrical load will be like ahead of time.

Re:But they already bill me (1)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about 4 months ago | (#46842097)

Yeah, but they don't know what color pants your wearing.

Re:But they already bill me (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 months ago | (#46842117)

But how does that relate to your temperature in your home.
You may be using 10% more just because you have a couple extra PCs running all the time.

But if your home uses 10% more energy per other homes considering changes in temperature. That could mean that you may get some sort of deal on insulation, or weatherizing your home. Perhaps they may charge you more because you run the AC with the windows open.

You are the product (3, Insightful)

MikeMo (521697) | about 4 months ago | (#46841289)

Remember, with Google, you - and what you do online - are their product. That information, and your "eyeballs" are what they sell. Expect them to behave accordingly.

Re:You are the product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841303)

Even today, with all their projects, Google still earns 96% of revenues from advertising.

Re:You are the product (2)

Kenja (541830) | about 4 months ago | (#46841315)

And with Microsoft, Facebook, and any other company that provides a "free" product. It's shocking how many people don't figure that out and seem to think these companies are just acting magnanimously to provide services.

Re:You are the product (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 4 months ago | (#46841363)

Except that the Nest thermostat is anything but free. Sure, the cloud services to let you control your thermostat from outside your house are free, but the hardware itself is quite expensive. I wonder if there's any open source alternatives that would allow you to remotely control your thermostat, while not requiring some cloud provider. Your phone could directly connect to the thermostat when you open a hole in your router. Perhaps a little too difficult for most home users, but certainly something that many geeks would like

Re:You are the product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841519)

Google "Raspberry Pi Thermostat" (can substitute the Pi for an Arduino, etc.), it's definitely doable.

Re:You are the product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841379)

The difference between Microsoft and Facbook/Google is that Microsoft does not rely on advertising revenue to subsist. At Microsoft, profits from Windows/Office/Enterprise are subsidizing Bing. At Facebook/Google profits from advertising are subsidizing everything else.

Re:You are the product (1)

Kenja (541830) | about 4 months ago | (#46841403)

So how do you think they pay for the "free" OneDrive cloud storage and Microsoft Office for Chrome?

Re:You are the product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841469)

OneDrive builds value for Windows, so it makes sense to pay for it with Windows money.

Re:You are the product (2)

LordThyGod (1465887) | about 4 months ago | (#46841455)

The difference between Microsoft and Facbook/Google is that Microsoft does not rely on advertising revenue to subsist. At Microsoft, profits from Windows/Office/Enterprise are subsidizing Bing. At Facebook/Google profits from advertising are subsidizing everything else.

That's not for lack of trying by MS though. They've just failed miserably at it.

Re:You are the product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46842013)

Or google has better fan bois than MS...

Re:You are the product (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841433)

"It's shocking how many people don't figure that out"

Yea well this is the same lot of people who voted for Obama twice and think Obamacare isn't working because of Republican obstruction. What do you expect?

I'm surprised if these shitbirds can tie their shoes.

Re:You are the product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841953)

The clear and obvious conclusion - Apple's not so evil after all?

Re:You are the product (2)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#46841367)

this is true, but in a lot of cases companies having detailed data is better for everyone

if your utility had detailed usage for every minute of the day in every location they could plan and only build out extra capacity in the right locations instead of the entire footprint
same with wireless carriers

everyone loves to complain how the local government or utility is dumb and doesn't build out in the right place, but once you try to provide them the data people complain about privacy

Re:You are the product (1)

j_l_cgull (129101) | about 4 months ago | (#46841405)

Perhaps people won't complain about privacy if the utility provider is the entity that builds and uses the data monitoring system, instead of a third party entity ?

Re:You are the product (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#46841847)

If you were growing pot in your barn, you might have a different opinion.

Re:You are the product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841397)

Is there a microphone or camera in the device?

Can these similar devices detect when you're in the room?

I'm not saying it does but what about future versions?

Google makes money from people's privacy so what protections do we have?

Re:You are the product (2)

WillAdams (45638) | about 4 months ago | (#46841421)

There is a sensor (movement or IR I think) which allows it to determine that a house is occupied so that it can determine when to turn down the thermostat.

Re:You are the product (1)

LordThyGod (1465887) | about 4 months ago | (#46841481)

Google makes money from people's privacy so what protections do we have?

Bigger, higher tech tinfoil hats, or use some other product.

Re:You are the product (1)

ranton (36917) | about 4 months ago | (#46841541)

Remember, with Google, you - and what you do online - are their product. That information, and your "eyeballs" are what they sell. Expect them to behave accordingly.

And thank god that companies like Google have found ways of turning me into a valuable product without any effort on my part. It has taken a lot of work to turn myself into a product that I can sell to employers for a good paycheck. But Google and Facebook provide best in class services to me for free and all I have to do in return is use them.

Re:You are the product (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 4 months ago | (#46841669)

But Google and Facebook provide best in class services to me for free and all I have to do in return is use them.

If only that were the case. I never wanted a Google+ account, and never used it. But Google created one anyway when I signed up for another service.

Not only that, but Google collect data on you even of you don't sign up for any of their services. They spy on you via adverts on third party websites.

There's nothing wrong with you choosing to exchange your privacy in return for "free" services. The problem is them collecting data from people who haven't agreed to that arrangement.

Re:You are the product (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | about 4 months ago | (#46841641)

You say that like it's a bad thing. As far as I'm concerned, I love the fact that I can trade demographic data for various online services. I'd far rather give them that than have to shell out real money. And as a bonus, I get ads that are potentially actually useful to me, rather than (say) feminine hygiene products.

Re:You are the product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841727)

and yet 2/3 of slashdot militantly defend them as beneficial to the internet.

Re:You are the product (1)

mi (197448) | about 4 months ago | (#46842199)

You are quite right. And yet, I can't shake the feeling of respect for them — they are doing a much better job collecting and using the data, than the government agencies do. Surely, Department of Energy (for just one example) would love to have such details of our energy use. But they can not and — run by bureaucrats and politicians, rather than profit-motivated free people — will never able to.

Intelligent energy-use would be very helpful in reducing costs, waste and pollution. Somebody should be collecting this information. Given a choice between a government agency and a corporation, I'll always choose the latter:

  • They would not send armed thugs to "euthanize" [prisonplanet.com] my livestock.
  • They would not shoot my dog [google.com] .
  • If one starts misbehaving too much, I will not need to "raise awareness" and wait 4-6-8 years — I'll simply switch to competitor

. And so on. You've heard it before. This is just another example...

OMG, ConEd will know when i use electricity (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#46841293)

this is horrible, imagine if they could build out for peak capacity in the right locations for the right times so there wouldn't be anymore rolling blackouts in july and august

demand response (4, Interesting)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 4 months ago | (#46841351)

this is horrible, imagine if they could build out for peak capacity in the right locations for the right times so there wouldn't be anymore rolling blackouts in july and august

presumably the next step is for the power companies to control your thermostat to cut back your A/C during peak times.

Re:demand response (1)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#46841391)

in theory it's better than a blackout

part of NYC the peak usage is above the capacity of the wiring and local electrical transformers. and yet people and businesses don't do anything to reduce demand and complain how the electricity has to be shut off

a person is smart, but as a group people are usually dumb

Re:demand response (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 4 months ago | (#46841505)

why doesn't con ed upgrade their infrastructure? don't they have an obligation to serve? duh.

Re:demand response (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 4 months ago | (#46841699)

What you don't think they upgrade their infrastructure? They do, sometimes while it's still live even. And you'll hear about some poor bastard who dies along the way because of some mistake.

Re:demand response (1)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#46841841)

they are always upgrading
but if you have the right data you can upgrade the most used wiring and parts of the system first or work with some customers to reduce usage

if you have a million megawatt plant but need 1.1 million megawatts at peak usage it doesn't make sense to build another million megawatt plant since it will lose money. and no one wants a rate increase to pay for capacity that will sit unused.

Re:demand response (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46842187)

So why don't the prices reflect the actual supply and demand?

Re:demand response (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 4 months ago | (#46841565)

this is horrible, imagine if they could build out for peak capacity in the right locations for the right times so there wouldn't be anymore rolling blackouts in july and august

presumably the next step is for the power companies to control your thermostat to cut back your A/C during peak times.

It is, in fact, the current step [kcplsmartgrid.com] in some places.

Re:demand response (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 4 months ago | (#46841605)

this is horrible, imagine if they could build out for peak capacity in the right locations for the right times so there wouldn't be anymore rolling blackouts in july and august

presumably the next step is for the power companies to control your thermostat to cut back your A/C during peak times.

They already do:

http://www.pge.com/en/myhome/s... [pge.com]

Re:demand response (3, Informative)

unimacs (597299) | about 4 months ago | (#46841717)

That's already an option with our electric utility. In exchange for a reduced summer time rate, we let them cycle our A/C. The don't do it through the thermostat. They have a box directly connected to the compressor. There are limits as to how much time it can be off. There's been times when it's been activated at our house but it's usually on again before there's been very much of an impact on the the temp of the home.

Re:demand response (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841823)

Already going on... Some cities will be happy to give you a "free" thermostat... but it will give their commands priority first.

Re:demand response (2)

what2123 (1116571) | about 4 months ago | (#46841837)

I don't know if you are being sarcastic or serious. Either way, this is happening now. PP&L in Pennsylvania started this last year. If you are using a SmartMeter & have a Controller, you can elect to have PP&L "Save" you money by turning off your A/C during peak hours during the day. In theory it almost sounds okay, it failed pretty horribly in a couple locations last year with many older folks homes turning into 90+ degree ovens.

Re:demand response (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46842023)

As others have pointed out, this is pretty common - my utility has been giving me $80 off my bill each year for the last few years, in return i let them install a thermostat which can turn off for an hour, then on for an hour, then off for an hour etc during peak times. Seems to happen a few times a summer, temp in the house goes up a couple of degrees but usually it's not really a big thing. Way cheaper for them than trying to build plants to supply that peak power, and I'm happy because it would be a waste to build such plants only to have them idle most of the time.

Re:OMG, ConEd will know when i use electricity (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841383)

this is horrible, imagine if they could build out for peak capacity in the right locations for the right times so there wouldn't be anymore rolling blackouts in july and august

That's rather narrow way of thinking. They companies that own transmission lines *already* know this information.

Re:OMG, ConEd will know when i use electricity (1)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#46841415)

and if you know who your biggest users are at any time of day you can work with them to reduce usage so you don't have to spend a lot of money for upgrades

Re:OMG, ConEd will know when i use electricity (2)

LordThyGod (1465887) | about 4 months ago | (#46841501)

this is horrible, imagine if they could build out for peak capacity in the right locations for the right times so there wouldn't be anymore rolling blackouts in july and august

That's rather narrow way of thinking. They companies that own transmission lines *already* know this information.

I wonder why they are paying the reported $40 per user then?

Re:OMG, ConEd will know when i use electricity (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 4 months ago | (#46841577)

this is horrible, imagine if they could build out for peak capacity in the right locations for the right times so there wouldn't be anymore rolling blackouts in july and august

Gee, you'd think they could put some metering on their *own* equipment to figure out peak demand and plan accordingly.

Where do you live that you have rolling blackouts? That sounds like a huge failing on the part of the power company - they already know how much power an "average" house uses in each neighborhood (so they can plan capacity for new customers), and they already know how aggregate power usage correlates to temperature, so they can plan for 100 degree summer days.

Of course, the big problem is getting them to actually *make* the investment in new power generating capacity where it is needed.

Re:OMG, ConEd will know when i use electricity (1)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#46841867)

NYC

parts of NYC, the usage is beyond the capacity of the local wiring and there are blackouts. lots of people have window AC's they blast at full in the summer time. but they don't insulate the windows so they don't have to blast the AC at full and then complain there are blackouts.

Re:OMG, ConEd will know when i use electricity (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 4 months ago | (#46841645)

*Your* electricity company already knows your usage statistics. This data will presumably be sold to competitors with whom you have no business relationship.

Although given it's the US I have to ask if you actually have competition amongst utility providers over there.

Re:OMG, ConEd will know when i use electricity (1)

hendrips (2722525) | about 4 months ago | (#46841833)

No, we don't have competition, and unless you are an extremely rare exception, you don't either. Having a competitive retail electrical distribution infrastructure is difficult, bordering on impossible. That's why they're regulated as utilities.

It's the Google way (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841335)

Google is a one trick pony. From robot cars to balloon-based internet access to Android OS, they still only have one business model: selling advertisements. 96% of Google revenue is generated via advertising channels. Take away the advertising and Google as we know it is gone.

Re:It's the Google way (0)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 4 months ago | (#46841503)

they still only have one business model: selling advertisements

Yes. Is this supposed to make me sharpen my pitchfork?

Re:It's the Google way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841587)

Well, you must have found this article very interesting then. It's talking about a new trick Google is using to make money. Instead of selling advertising, they're selling aggregate data to utilities. Joking aside, even though the bulk of their income comes from selling ads, they do build some high quality software. To say that Google is nothing more than an advertising retailer is a lot like saying the government is nothing more than a tax collector. Take away the taxes and government as we know it is gone.

Re:It's the Google way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841819)

Google is a one trick pony. From robot cars to balloon-based internet access to Android OS, they still only have one business model: selling advertisements. 96% of Google revenue is generated via advertising channels. Take away the advertising and Google as we know it is gone.

1. That is true. But the same can be said about an awful lot of companies with the "one trick" being "selling software" or "selling gadgets" or "selling groceries" or "selling fuel" etc. etc. Selling adverts doesn't seem to be a market that's going to vanish overnight.

2. Having said that... this is an example of diversification. What Google are selling here isn't adverts, it's aggregate information to help predict energy demand close to when it's needed.

How granular is power company metering currently? (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 4 months ago | (#46841353)

I bet traditional power company metering could already tell what hours of the day and which days of the week I am usually at home. What could Nest tell them that they don't already know?

Re:How granular is power company metering currentl (2)

danlor (309557) | about 4 months ago | (#46841429)

In fact the meter is a far more accurate measure than the thermostat ever could be. It only controls one appliance in a household, and you have no idea what kind of appliance they are actually hooked up to. It could be super efficient, or an old clunker... gas or electric...geothermal? There has to be more to this.

Re:How granular is power company metering currentl (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 4 months ago | (#46841827)

I suppose if you tie energy usage to thermostat settings you could get a decent picture of insulation and heating/ac efficiency of the structure. Then the power company could make useful suggestions on how best to reduce your bill.

Re:How granular is power company metering currentl (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841447)

Only the latest smart meters can capture data down to hour-resolution. Traditional meters cannot capture that level of detail unless a meter reader is standing there typing numbers in. Large scale deployment of smart meters costs millions in labor and infrastructure, so this type of device from Nest could be extremely useful for both consumers and producers, at a lower cost than the alternatives.

Re:How granular is power company metering currentl (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 months ago | (#46841557)

I bet traditional power company metering could already tell what hours of the day and which days of the week I am usually at home. What could Nest tell them that they don't already know?

I assume that they have some interest in how much of your use is heating/cooling related vs associated with other purposes. Thermal management, especially cooling, tends to be both a big item, and the one that shows nasty seasonal and sometimes just unpredictable variations. It's also the one that probably has the most 'slack', either in providing people with some incentive to relax their targets by a few degrees or to include various thermal energy storage mechanisms in new builds and renovations of existing HVAC systems that can be used for peak shaving.

People don't much like brownouts; but they are suspected of being more tolerant of modest thermal excursions, given sufficient motivation, so getting the breakdown would be of use. I'm surprised that it's $40/year worth of use, though.

Does Nest Automatically Report In? (1)

Piata (927858) | about 4 months ago | (#46841359)

Or is there a way to prevent it from phoning home? I'm interested in getting one, I just don't feel like feeding more information to Google than I have to.

Re:Does Nest Automatically Report In? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 months ago | (#46841465)

Or is there a way to prevent it from phoning home? I'm interested in getting one, I just don't feel like feeding more information to Google than I have to.

You can run one without configuring its wifi link, and it will perform functions that don't require network access.

If you do connect, though, get ready to sign up for a Nest Account (probably soon to be merged with Google+...) and access your device through the excitement of the cloud. None of that scary, technical, "No, I'll just type in my own home IP myself and leave your man-in-the-middle out of it." nonsense.

So, not a total brick; but you'd better really like the 'learning' features to spend $250 on an offline thermostat.

Re:Does Nest Automatically Report In? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 4 months ago | (#46841639)

Or is there a way to prevent it from phoning home? I'm interested in getting one, I just don't feel like feeding more information to Google than I have to.

You can build your own Nest-like thermostat:

http://blog.spark.io/2014/01/1... [spark.io]

It still uses cloud based software, but at least it's not Google's cloud, and since it's open source, you can see exactly what it's sending to the cloud.

I like the concept (1)

stewsters (1406737) | about 4 months ago | (#46841381)

This could actually provide very valuable information for energy companies. Like the kind that could genuinely make life better for middle class people trying to save a buck and the environment. They already know how much power you consume, and send people around to read your meters.

Google should secure it with a nice read-only api and should offer to install one at your house if you agree to give them the data from it for ~5 years.

Re:I like the concept (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 4 months ago | (#46841463)

The real reason they want this data is to be able to remotely change thermostat settings on air conditioners and electric water heaters during peak demand periods.

Re:I like the concept (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 months ago | (#46841599)

They've been doing that for years

Re:I like the concept (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#46841543)

Only to out of date energy companies. Most have already installed smart meters that log and report back everything. I can tell you when my wife used the coffee maker and toaster in the morning and when she left for work by looking at the power use graph online from my meter.

If Google did Clippy... (4, Funny)

SIGBUS (8236) | about 4 months ago | (#46841393)

It appears you are running a marijuana grow op. Do you want to:
( ) Hire an attorney
( ) Locate nearby vendors of weapons and security systems
( ) Find out about hydroponic equipment and cultivation techniques

Re:If Google did Clippy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841835)

( ) Look up moving companies that can relocate you to Washington or Colorado?

So don't buy Nest thermostats. (2)

Virtucon (127420) | about 4 months ago | (#46841431)

Of course Google was going to do this. That's why there was a whole bunch of red flags raised when the acquisition was announced. We should all be more privacy conscious and it's not like there are alternative's to the Nest gear. I was about ready to pull the trigger in January for three Nest T-Stats but after hearing that Google was buying them, I changed over to Cyberstats [motison.com] instead.

Re:So don't buy Nest thermostats. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#46841545)

Of course Google was going to do this. That's why there was a whole bunch of red flags raised when the acquisition was announced. We should all be more privacy conscious and it's not like there are alternative's to the Nest gear. I was about ready to pull the trigger in January for three Nest T-Stats but after hearing that Google was buying them, I changed over to Cyberstats [motison.com] instead.

Considering that a decent, non-remote-capable thermostat will run you almost as much as a Cyberstat (if not more), $85 buck seems like a pretty stellar deal.

Re:So don't buy Nest thermostats. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841649)

Of course Google was going to do this. That's why there was a whole bunch of red flags raised when the acquisition was announced. We should all be more privacy conscious and it's not like there are alternative's to the Nest gear. I was about ready to pull the trigger in January for three Nest T-Stats but after hearing that Google was buying them, I changed over to Cyberstats [motison.com] instead.

That's why there WERE a whole bunch of red flags.

ALTERNATIVES not "alternative's" is the plural of alternative.

Good lord, where did you get your basic education, a trailer park ?

Re:So don't buy Nest thermostats. (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | about 4 months ago | (#46842003)

Wow, this one works with millivolt systems, nice. The Nest doesn't, even though I have the required 24VAC supply already wired but disused (a very old t-stat used it, current unit is battery powered). The only way I could do it with a Nest is clobber some sort of relay system to drive the boiler. The only downside is that the Cyberstat doesn't appear to have a battery backup. Millivolt systems have the advantage of providing heat without needing external utility power.

Programable thermostats (2)

kqc7011 (525426) | about 4 months ago | (#46841437)

My low end programable does everything that I want it to do and it does not report on me. Paid for itself in the first two months that I had it too. ROI on a NEST would take years, not even sure if it ever would.

Nest without 'net? (1)

JoeIsuzu83 (1005645) | about 4 months ago | (#46841495)

Does the Nest still work if it can't access the internet? Seems like a no-brainer to just configure your router so that it can't communicate outside your LAN.

Re:Nest without 'net? (1)

stewsters (1406737) | about 4 months ago | (#46841667)

You can, and it should work. You will still need to connect to get updates. It does seem like they are serious in keeping it updated. http://support.nest.com/articl... [nest.com]

Better than the Nest Protect? (1)

mseeger (40923) | about 4 months ago | (#46841517)

I hope the Nest Thermostat is better than the Nest Protect Smoke Detector. Those gave me a case of serious "early adopter burn".

The Nest Protect detectors have the tendency to generate false alarms in clean air (no smoke, no dust, no steam) and are very hard to disable (get a ladder, dismount, get a screw driver, open device, remove battery). The idea of disabling a false alarm by WIFI has not occurred to them yet :-(.

Are they going to fix them first? (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#46841521)

NEST's generate a lot of heat that make them keep the house colder than actually set, they cause you to use more power in summer and warm climates. Have they pushed out a firmware that fixes this major flaw with the devices?

Re:Are they going to fix them first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46842141)

do you have proof of this?

Buy Nest and you get what you deserve. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841525)

Only a naive fool embraces technology like this.

I wouldn't use a Nest thermostat it if was free.

You are NOT the product here. (4, Informative)

Jason Pollock (45537) | about 4 months ago | (#46841529)

The single biggest thing that power companies worry about is demand. Long term, short term. They worry about it second by second, millisecond by millisecond even. If someone has a better short term model they can make money.

This is why power companies worry about the weather so much. It has very little to do with the sun or the wind. Who cares if you're a coal/natural gas plant?!?

Except you do. The generators all have consents that say that the can only take a certain amount of water from the river for cooling, and they can only raise the temperature of the river a certain amount. That means the temperature of the water (and air) are very important. There is a direct correlation between weather and the amount of power they can generate.

Add to that demand prediction. Sure, they've got a model, and smart meters tell them when you are likely to use power (based on previous patterns). However, Nest's data will tell them when you are going to use power. 100%. Even better, Nest is able to _delay_ that power use, or shift it to when it is cheaper. It will even result in a more stable grid, since that data feed will allow the generator to know when there's about to be a brownout.

New Zealand already does this with "ripple control" on water heaters. Suppliers turn water heaters OFF at the meter when power prices get to high.

This is not about snooping on what you do (the power companies already know), it's about the grid itself.

Yah, okay... (1)

MatthiasF (1853064) | about 4 months ago | (#46841713)

At first I thought they were interested in knowing what your thermostat is set and how well insulated the house is to changes in temperature, but they could have done that with a web-form and a letter to customers.

Then I thought they just want the data sooner, meaning they want to know when your heat or AC will turn on so they can adjust their feeds before the appliances start to draw the power but then I realized they already know that on an aggregated basis in their grid software (at power exchanges and such) and can use statistics to work out time of day or regional differences.

Now, I just think it's a fad they are buying into to see if it actually helps them and in several years they will stop looking at the data because they already had it in other forms or could get it cheaper than $40 a customer elsewhere.

Re:You are NOT the product here. (2, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 4 months ago | (#46841747)

This isn't about snooping, per se.

What you describe is infinitely more about the grid getting it's own way. When demand is "too much", they can turn off the least-profitable areas to concentrate on the most. Without their consent. And when demand is too low, they can allow your devices to ramp up without question.

It's about stripping the grid to the barebones to chase profits, and then - when the bare bones can't cope - turning off the demand at the source. Sure, you'll be annoyed that your power just went off, but at least the shop next to you that's part of a chain that gives them a lot of money wasn't affected, eh?

And what you end up with is NOT a stable grid. You end up with - to the home owner - an unpredictable one. Which means you have to put money into alternates if you want stability. And any kind of partitioning plan of the kind "this is my life-support, don't turn it off" / "this is the pond pump, you can switch it off when you like" is not only ripe for misuse, but also incredibly privacy-intruding too.

Fact is, they are keeping up with demand. They pretty much always have. The profits from the energy industry (note profit = AFTER investment in the network) are obscene. This isn't about coping for the future, or paying lip service to the latest political demand of sticking some money into rival products that - if successful - would kill your own industry overnight, or maintaining a stable network.

It's about cutting off Joe Bloggs' heating right in the middle of winter because he's only on the basic electricity tier, and hasn't yet upgraded to "Enegy Prime" and it's extra monthly subscription that ensures he won't get cut off.

Re:You are NOT the product here. (1)

Jason Pollock (45537) | about 4 months ago | (#46842067)

Actually, there is a lot of room in between where intelligence can help the home owner substantially.

There are huge differences in incremental costs for power generation and lines. The cost of switching on a peaking natural gas turbine plant for peak power generation increases the cost of electricity by insane amounts, from $50-200/Mwh to $20,000/Mwh (NZ numbers).

So, providers implement time-of-day metering which roughly matches up with demand. It still doesn't match up with the provider's incremental costs, but it's a signal. What would happen if they could pass it back in much more fine grained fashion?

Take a look at your dominant sources of power consumption:

1) Hot Water Heating - if electric, this is 25% of the household bill.
2) Heating/Cooling - another 50%
3) Fridge - 5%

All those items can be shifted by _hours_ without changing your comfort. That's 80% of a household's load which can be shifted/shed in times of high cost. If only you knew!

Now, add in fine-grained demand metering and charging and then add a signal back to your devices.

how much does Nest pay you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841571)

I won't get a Nest thing unless the payment that Google sends me is worth sacrificing my privacy for.

That's a good question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841623)

As we all know, we will soon be 3D printing everything at home, how does Google plan to make money here?

Nest and Heartbleed mean your furnace is pwned! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841629)

Nest products use the OpenSSL library that is impacted by the Heartbleed bug.
http://support.nest.com/article/How-is-Nest-addressing-the-OpenSSL-Heartbleed-security-issue

Hack one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841653)

Find out what the protocol is, use a botnet to spew a few packets at them on a hot day, to confuse them. Their data will be worthless.

How about one without cloud BS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841821)

http://www.temperaturemanager.com/

I WANT utilities to know my usage patterns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46841893)

This is one thing that seems benign. Utilities can actually use this to reduce over-generation (waste) and reduce the likelihood of not having the generating capacity to support demand. By all means, please tell the utilities company every time my electricity draw changes. You can even give the exact wattage. As long as the data is not tied to my name or likeness or address, all they will know is that a certain change in demand occurred at a specific time. So far, so good.

Actually, not only could this be seen as "benign", but it could be outright beneficial. It could result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions by being able to run the generating facilities closer to actual demand (this is practical and possible for coal, natural gas and diesel plants, but not so much with nuclear plants). Anyone in favor of it taking longer for us to exhaust our natural resources? How about slowing the severity and timetable of global warming's detrimental effects? Even if this is only a drop in the bucket, it's still a good thing. If it yields utility companies higher profit margins, I'm okay with that, too. My local utility company is actually lobbying to build newer, safer, higher-output nuclear reactors on an existing nuclear site. Basically they want to increase the base generating capacity while reducing risk of a meltdown by using a new reactor design with additional failsafes, and reducing the area's reliance on coal. It's hard to be a large, profitable company and act *more* altruistically, or at least pragmatically in a way that happens to serve the public good, than this utility company. Let them have their profits; they're trying to be part of the solution.

Re:I WANT utilities to know my usage patterns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46842079)

If you have a smart meter, the utility already knows your usage pattern.

Ads (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 4 months ago | (#46841951)

I thought the point of Google buying Nest, was that so they could analyse your behaviour, and then figure out when to serve you ads for pizza.

Utilities already get this information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46842133)

Smart Meters already provide this information to the utilities, and it is more accurate because they get the information in calibrated energy at specific times.

Nest can only tell them "the heat was set to this and the system was on at this time." It doesn't know how much energy it is using.

Google is pushing obsolete technology with this one, and there's no way in hell the quality of data is as good as that which comes from smart meters.

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