Google said to be considering a smart thermostat, again

Some companies, like Nest, have proven that home energy-use systems can be consumer-friendly. Maybe this is why Google is reportedly giving such a device another try.

Nest's second-generation smart thermostat learns users' heating and cooling preferences over time. Lindsey Turrentine/CNET

Whenever winter rolls around, it's hard not to think of home energy use -- insulation doesn't seem to quite work, power bills go up, and it still feels cold.

It appears energy is also on Google's mind. According to The Information, the company reportedly has been testing Internet-connected thermostats aimed at making the energy grid more efficient and helping users control their power use. The trial program is said to be called EnergySense.

These "smart" thermostats aren't to be confused with an earlier like-minded project called PowerMeter that Google shuttered in 2011. PowerMeter was a Web application that displayed how much electricity a home used; but Google was forced to drop the project after lagging consumer interest.

However, the tech giant reportedly hasn't completely thrown in the towel on creating a home energy-use device, according to The Information.

Google isn't the only company to have worked on home energy management. Several companies have come up with their own renditions of the smart thermostat, including Nest , Ecobee, and Honeywell . Nest has captured the attention of Silicon Valley investors with its next-generation thermostat with built-in Wi-Fi that is capable of learning users' heating and cooling preferences over time.

For the EnergySense thermostats, Google is said to have plans to partner with other companies to manufacture the device, according to The Information. Google has reportedly already had non-employees test EnergySense in St. Louis. However, it's unclear if the tech giant plans to release the systems for commercial use.

CNET contacted Google for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.

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About the author

Dara Kerr, a freelance journalist based in the Bay Area, is fascinated by robots, supercomputers and Internet memes. When not writing about technology and modernity, she likes to travel to far-off countries.

 

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