Money-Saving Thermostats

If I asked you, "What's your favorite techie gadget?" I doubt you'd tell me the thermostat in your home.

People couldn't get enough of the $250 Nest Thermostat. It was sold out for months when it first came out.

Consumer Reports just tested it and other thermostats to see which make it easiest to cut your energy bill.

The Nest Learning Thermostat was designed by part of the same team that came up with the iPod. You're supposed to "use it like your old thermostat, and it'll program itself."

Consumer Reports tested the Nest and 29 other programmable thermostats. One of its unique features-motion sensors that detect when you're home.

Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman of Consumer Reports says, "The Nest will actually set up its own program. And then it keeps tweaking the program based on the input it gets from you and from its sensors."

The Nest is one of several new thermostats that lets you use your smart phone to change the temperature, even if you're not at home.

A key test-just how easy each thermostat is to use. Turns out programming the Nest manually wasn't always so straightforward.

But Consumer Reports still recommends it...unlike the Venstar Wireless Remote model T1100RF. It was the toughest to set up.

Lehrman says, "I want to program it. So what button do I press? Well, it's probably "mode." So i press this button, and nothing happens."

Another important assessment-how clear the display is.

In the end, three thermostats were some of the easiest to use-with their colorful, touch-screen displays.

One-a different Venstar-the ColorTouch Series T5800. It is the least expensive of the three at $170, and it's clear graphics make programming a snap.

For far less, the no-frills $70 Lux TX9600TS from Lowe's is a Consumer Reports Best Buy. It's relatively easy to program and lets you enter different settings for each day of the week.

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