04/18/2012 02:15 pm ET

Nest Learning Thermostat: A Smart Means of Temperature Control

The Nest Learning Thermostat wants to change mundane temperature-control devices the way the iPod changed portable music players.

We all know the thermostat shuffle: Up two degrees, down three degrees, up one degree, never quite right. But the second-generation Nest Learning Thermostat aims to show the world just how useful a smart, constantly adapting thermostat can be. The device is the brainchild of Nest founder and CEO Tony Fadell, who is no stranger to creating influential, elegant products. Working with Steve Jobs at Apple, Fadell helped to bring the first 18 generations of the iPod and the first three generations of the iPhone to life, authoring more than 100 patents along the way.

The Nest Learning Thermostat represents a quantum leap for the traditional thermostat -- namely that it’s capable of learning habits and preferences as well as knowing the most effective ways to ensure energy efficiency. The sleek device is easy to unbox and set up and comes with a number of user-friendly features. It debuted a few months ago and retails for about $250.

The Nest Learning Thermostat uses Wi-Fi technology for many of its operations. It understands weather conditions and temperature outside and uses the information to better conserve energy use within your home. Similarly, this compatibility makes it so that you can manage your thermostat -- even in multiple houses -- from your smartphone, tablet or laptop in real time.

Over time, the application for Nest on your smartphone or tablet becomes an indispensable resource for understanding your energy consumption. Along with the thermostat itself, you can use these devices to view your energy history along with where your bill was effected the most by your energy use. Using this data, Nest can build an adjustable schedule within a week's time based on its knowledge of your preferences. Nest can also understand when you’ve left your home and will shut itself off accordingly.

The Nest Learning Thermostat seems to be capitalizing on two popular trends -- energy conservation and giving users the ability to access information and customize their experience. With thermostats accounting for 50 percent of energy bills, Nest claims that making the switch is not only environmentally friendly but also cost efficient as well.

If the Nest Learning Thermostat is any indication, we will continue seeing a stronger emphasis on user control in more and more facets of our home life. Ease of use and better understanding how our products work and behave is a tremendous step in ensuring we can work with said product to improve our day to day life.