How to install the Nest Learning Thermostat

If you're sold on conserving energy and reducing your bills with Nest, use this guide to install and configure your smart, new thermostat.

Sharon Profis Vice President of Content
Sharon Profis is a vice president of content.
Sharon Profis
3 min read

It's not often we stop to consider the ol' thermostat. Although it plays an important part in our comfort and energy bill, it doesn't get much attention, ignored along with other utilities like the water heater and trash compactor. Most times, we set it, forget it and get on with our lives.

But the Nest Learning Thermostat is aiming to change the way we approach heating and cooling with technology and design fit for the gadget lover in a modern home. And now, three years after its initial launch, the Google-owned company sells a thinner, lower-profile version of its original thermostat.

Easy to install and maintain, the Nest packs "learning" features, as it remembers your temperature preferences for times throughout the day and programs itself to create a personalized schedule. But what's a modern thermostat without Internet capabilities? With a one-time setup, Nest connects to your Wi-Fi, allowing you to remotely adjust your temperature using any smartphone or Web browser from afar.

Ultimately, the Nest will attempt to help you cut costs on heating and cooling, all the while making your home a little greener. When you're saving energy, a small green leaf will appear on the display.

Before you take the $250 plunge to buy one, take this quick survey to find out if the Nest thermostat is compatible with your home. It requires that you remove your thermostat (which is easy) and take a look at some of the wiring. If you're confused, play the video at the bottom of the survey to get visual instructions for checking your current wiring.

To install a Nest, follow these steps:

  1. Complete the Nest compatibility survey. Take the survey. If you get the green light to go ahead,
  2. Remove your old thermostat, preserving the wires.
  3. Install the Nest thermostat with Nest's superclear instructions and our How To video (below).
  4. Set up the Nest learning system. Instructions here.
  5. Use your mobile phone to control the Nest while you're away.
Watch this: How to install a Nest Thermostat

Once your Nest thermostat is all set up, and you've set the temperature, it'll begin "learning" immediately. Over the next seven days, the Nest will collect data about the way you adjust your heating or cooling, and only then will it begin giving you smart feedback to help you conserve energy.


The final step is to set up your Nest account so that you can control your thermostat while you're away from home. So, if you're on your way home on a cold, blustery evening, you can set Nest to start heating so that your home is toasty by the time you arrive.

To pair your mobile device (Android or iPhone) with Nest, download the Nest app. Then, connect to the same Wi-Fi network as your Nest thermostat (presumably your only home network).

Then open the app and tap Sign Up for a Nest Account. Enter your e-mail address, create a username and password, then click "Sign up."

Since you're on the same Wi-Fi network as the thermostat, the app should automatically pair with Nest. If it doesn't, follow these steps.

In addition to remotely controlling Nest from your smartphone, you can log in to the Nest Web site and access your settings there. Just head to Nest.com and click "Control your Nest" in the upper right.

If you have additional suggestions or questions about Nest, leave them in the comments section.

Editors' note, Thursday at 1 p.m. PT: This post was updated to reflect Nest's updated learning thermostat, although the installation process remains the same.