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Google’s Nest Learning Thermostat now available in the UK

Nest has finally brought its smart thermostat gadget over to the UK, with the device now available to purchase.

Previously the Nest Learning Thermostat had only been available over in the States, and Nest only sold its smoke alarm, the Protect, in the UK.

So how much will this new toy set you back? The thermostat is more expensive than the £109 smoke alarm, retailing at £179 currently – that's with an offer of free installation which is good until 8 April (a paid installation with a 3 to 4 day wait, as opposed to the 10 day wait for a free hook-up, puts the price up to £249 – ouch).

The Learning Thermostat gradually learns about your heating habits, and automatically fine-tunes your heating for maximum efficiency, with no input necessary from the user. It will observe when you commonly turn the heating up or down, plus it can also detect if no one is in, turning the heating down – and it can access data such as weather forecasts.

According to a report in the Guardian, Nest has shifted a million units in the US, and the company claims that customers typically save around a fifth of their energy bill – leading to a pretty swift recoup of the asking price in most cases.

Lionel Paillet, general manager of Nest Europe, emphasised the fact that his product was different to the existing smart thermostats on the market, such as Hive (British Gas). He commented: "It's comparing apples and oranges. The Nest thermostat is really learning, it knows your preferences, it helps you keep comfortable, not sacrificing your comfort for energy savings."

Google purchased Nest Labs for a huge $3.2 billion (£1.9 billion) outlay at the start of the year, so you can bet that this is a company we'll be hearing more about. Google's ownership is a source of worry for many privacy activists, though, as the smart home is another possible avenue for data mining, and a potential virtual intrusion into the customer's home life.