Talking about thermostats is one way to cool down a dinner party conversation. Few folks want to hear about the latest in temperature control while tipping back an ice-cold cocktail.
But the Nest thermostat is a bird of a different feather. On its website, Nest admits, "We didn't think thermostats mattered either. Until we learned they control about 50 percent of our energy bill, as much as the refrigerator, lighting, TVs, computers and stereos combined."
Dubbed the "learning thermostat," Nest assesses your daily temp control patterns to better predict your heating and cooling needs. One week after it has been installed, Nest makes a schedule for your home and adjusts it as you adjust your patterns.
An Auto Away feature senses when you've left the house and automatically turns down the temperature. When you crank the dial to an energy-efficient temp, the Nest Leaf will appear to let you know you're saving green. Nest also uses a Wi-Fi connection to stay abreast of weather forecasts to better gauge how the outside temperature affects your energy use.
And if those features weren't space-age enough, you can control Nest remotely with a smartphone app so the house is acceptably frigid or toasty when you walk in the door.
But here's the coolest part: Nest claims that when you teach it well, you can save up to 20 percent on your heating or cooling bill.