Thermostats haven’t ever made the most fascinating dinner conversation – until now.  The new Nest Learning Thermostat is beautiful, functional, and efficient, and since its developers founded their own company after working for Apple, it comes with the hipster-seal-of-approval.  After designing iPods, iPhones, and their software, these guys know a little about convincing us we can’t live without something we’ve never needed before – but thermostats?

The rationale behind this suprising product line is simple:  Heating and cooling account for about half of a home’s energy use.  Properly programmed thermostats can cut heating and cooling costs by 20%, but as many as 90% of programmable thermostats are rarely or never programmed.

Their solution is a thermostat that's Apple-inspired elegant and can:

  • Learn your preferred temperatures and schedule.
  • Sense when you left the house or came home.Give you tips and feedback on your energy use.
  • Connect to Wi-Fi so you could control it from anywhere.
  • Look good (of course).
  • Make you feel proud to own it.
  • Have a positive impact on the world.

Nest can do that.

Is Nest the coolest thing that’s ever happened to thermostats?  Absolutely.  But Nest retails for $249 – at least five times the price of a good-quality programmable thermostat – and you need one for each heating zone.  Is it really worth it?  It’s too soon to tell - but then again, I'm happily paying for a smart phone that seemed ridiculously unnecessary a few years ago.

Energy efficiency geeks can become early-adopters and keep the rest of us posted.  In the meantime, I’ll follow Energy Star’s guidelines for my boring-but-efficient programmable thermostat – and keep investing in improving my home’s thermal envelope.  Insulation and air-sealing aren’t as flashy as Nest, but I know they’ll work.