By K. Emily Bond
Tony Fadell, the inventor of the iPod, left Apple last year to revolutionize the thermostat. Hot, huh? But not too.
Did you know that heating and cooling costs take up half of our monthly household energy bills? That's as much as the refrigerator, lighting, TVs, computers, and stereos combined. Thermostats are in control of all that usage. In the United States, thermostats determine 10% of our consumed energy usage overall, which equals some 1.7 billion barrels of oil per year.
The thermostat is boxy and stout and not nearly as sleek as a brand new Energy Star icebox, but it is an essential tool in the fight against climate change. Nevertheless, need it look so plain and utilitarian?
Heck no, says Fadell who founded Nest Labs upon his departure from Apple. In October, they released their first product: the world's sexiest thermostat.
At $249 it's expensive and, by some accounts, a bit tricky to install. Nest however, is smarter than your average thermostat in that it literally learns to program itself according to your real-life habits. nest-learning
We encourage programming your thermostat, which can save you 20% on your energy bill, but proper programming requires you to adhere to a strict schedule: lower it when you go to work in the morning, turn it up when you come home, lower it again at bedtime. But you, yourself, rarely adhere to a strict schedule. You go out, sometimes all night, occasionally not taking the walk of shame through your front door until two, three days later. It's not your thermostat's job to guilt you; the Nest encourages an active social life.
It builds a schedule around your habits, and can figure out when you're not there. You can also control it from your laptop and phone.
The Nest uses the same wheel interface as the iPod nestled in a stainless steel frame. When the little green leaf appears, that means the system is in energy-conserving mode.
If you live in a mega green home and require more than one thermostat, install extra Nests and they'll communicate with one another. Considering the thermostats we're used to:
The Nest is elevating the mundane one degree at a time.
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Verizon vs. AT&T: Who's Greener?
10 Easy Tips to Green Your Home
Images: Nest; Passive Aggressive Notes