Consumer Reports tests programmable thermostats

Nest thermostat claims to program itself

A programmable thermostat can help home owners but their energy bill.  Consumer Reports tested 30 of them, including the high-tech Nest Learning Thermostat.

The  $250 Nest was designed by part of the team that came up with the iPod and has been a hot seller.

One of the Nest's unique features is motion sensors that detect when you're home. It sets up its own program and continues to tweak it based on input from the home owner and its sensors.

Many of the  newer thermostats tested, including the Nest, let you use your smart phone to change the temperature when you're not home.

Even though testers said  programming the Nest manually was not straightforward, they still recommended it.

After all of the tests for ease of use and ease of reading, testers recommended the Venstar ColorTouch Series T-5800 for $170  and the no-frills Lux programmable thermostat from Lowe's, for $70.


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