Clark Howard: Lower energy costs offset price for Nest thermostat

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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.

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 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 percent or 30 percent. 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.

I am obsessed with reducing energy consumption and have done whole-house solar at my home. I’m also a huge CFL freak.

While I have tried traditional programmable thermostats, I have not necessarily been happy with the results. I’ve tried the Nest at my home and am happy with its performance. I’ve found it reduces your energy bill by the 30 percent that’s advertised.

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.

Clark Howard — Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs — for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Find more answers to your consumer questions at Clark’s website

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