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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Look At The Nest Thermostat

By Clark Howard

A former Apple executive has given the lowly programmable thermostat in your home a high-tech makeover.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is the brainchild of Tony Fadell, who had a role in the design of the iPod and iPhone, according to  The Los Angeles Times.

What can the Nest thermostat do for you?

The Nest is a device that learns your living patterns and figures out when to bump the temperature up or down a few degrees to save you money while you're out -- without you having to tell it to do anything.

Like all Apple products, the Nest looks like a piece of art and makes technology very easy to use. Its most prominent feature is a dial that's similar to the one on an iPod. It can also be controlled remotely via smartphone, tablet, or laptop.

Programmable thermostats can reduce heating and cooling costs in your home by 25% or 30%. The unknown is whether the Nest will be a big seller because it's priced at around $250 for the latest version. (The first generation Nest is available for $179-$199.) Visit for more details on how it works.

The Nest can be self-installed if you have technical ability or you can hire a local installer who will also sell you the unit. Retailers carrying the Nest include Amazon, Best Buy, and Lowe's, among others.

I am obsessed with reducing energy consumption and have done whole house solar at my residence. I'm also a huge CFL freak. While I have tried traditional programmable thermostats before, I have not necessarily been happy with the results.

I've now tried the Nest at my home and am very happy with its performance. I've found it reduces your energy bill by about 20% rather than the 30% that's advertised.

One particularly cool feature is that the Nest v.3 has a new motion detection algorithm to turn lights on and off. Previous iterations of the Nest can be software updated to have the motion detection functionality too.

Remember, the payback on the Nest is measured in months, not years. Best of all, when I had my Nest put in, my power company had a $100 rebate for me. Check for similar rebates that may be available in your area.