I absolutely loved my Nest thermostat when I owned a house, and it paid for itself several times over. It's hard to put a number on it because of seasonal variations and the fact that I replaced all the windows around the same time I installed the Nest, but I'm sure I saved over $1000 in heating and cooling bills the first year I used it. Most of that savings was simply because of 'Auto Away', which dramatically relaxes the temperature range when it detected I wasn't home for a while. Controlling it from an app was also a key feature, and I can't imagine living without it.
Anyway, Nest is amazing and this interview with its founder Tony Fadel (of Apple fame) explains how apparently they've gotten even awesomer.:
Aside from giving users more control over their home’s heating and cooling, Nest is also partnering with 12 energy providers to manage peak demands, like those that occur on 100+ degree days in the summer.
“We talk to our customers and tell them, ‘Hey, there’s a peak coming. If you’d like to opt into this, we’ll actually control your thermostat by 1 or 2 degrees, and shift that energy usage away from that rush hour,’” says Fadell. Participants then get paid by the energy company for participating, receiving $3 to $5 for each peak event.
Automatically diddling everyone's A/C up 1 or 2 degrees to help handle peak energy days? I would have done that in a heartbeat if it was available in my area, and they're even paying you to do it! Looks like it's available in several states, including Massachusetts, New York, and Rhodes Island. You can read more about it here.
If you haven't gotten one of these things and you have hefty heating or cooling bills, it will be worth the $250 and will likely save you much more than that. Your utility provider may even offer a rebate (National Grid offers $100), so it's worth looking into. Oh, and it's gorgeous too. They're available in Best Buy if you're into that kind of thing, otherwise get it on Amazon.