It used to be that thermostats sat on the wall waiting to be turned. It was a very manual affair. A simple dial to turn or lever to push and if you left the house and forgot to change it, you kept it warm for the cat and houseplants at least. And with that, we did not think much about our energy bill, kind of dumb.
The nest thermostat is elegant in design but also learns in a sense. The little leaf guides you (it’s lets you know you’ve set the temperature to one that is efficient) and you guide it, as it learns your behavior.
Another thermostat is the Ecobee, somewhat more conventional looking, but just as “smart”. Both of these devices, as well others on the market, are wireless enabled and allow you to connect to your phone, tablet or computer.
You can also get weather information or be alerted when things aren’t working at home (good to know if your pipes could freeze in the winter, or you do butter sculpture in your living room in the summer).
I like these but I’ll say it again, monitoring our usage isn’t worth much unless we change our behavior, and I think devices like this might help. Maybe it won’t really make me smarter, but it reminds me when I’m not being smart about energy, and that can only help.