Dear EarthTalk: Will I really be able to save money and energy in the long run by shelling out hundreds of dollars now for a so-called “smart” thermostat? — Bill Cone, Aptos, Calif.
Spending $200 or more to replace that older, still functioning thermostat with a new whizbang “smart” variety might seem like a waste of money, but it can be one of the best small investments a homeowner can make, given the potential for energy and cost savings.
The coolest of the bunch of new smart thermostats, the Nest, was created by former Apple employees who had been instrumental in designing the original iPod and iPhone years earlier. This simple looking round thermostat is reminiscent of old-school thermostats that one would manually adjust by turning the temperature dial. But the auto-awake feature that turns on the bright blue digital display when someone walks nearby gives the Nest away as an ultra-modern piece of high tech gadgetry.