Any self-respecting geek or cheapskate has no doubt had his eye on the Nest Learning Thermostat, the sexy (yes, sexy!) programmable thermostat that learns your heating and cooling habits and uses that knowledge to lower your bills.
Alas, you have to spend money to save money: the Nest sells for a rather steep $249. But not today: Lowe's has the Nest Learning Thermostat for $198 shipped, plus sales tax where applicable. And you can do a little better still if you start your purchase at TopCashback, a rebate site that's currently offering 6 percent back on Lowe's orders. That brings your price down to around $186.
Important note: This is the first-generation Nest. The second-generation model made its debut a few months ago, offering a slightly slimmer design and broader compatibility with home heating and cooling systems. (Make sure to click the Nest Compatibility Checker on the Lowe's product page.)
Those tweaks notwithstanding, the first-gen Nest remains a fun and effective thermostat, and it supports the latest software updates, so functionally speaking it should work much like the newer model.
You don't have to take my word for it. CNET Editor-in-Chief Lindsey Turrentine liked her review sample so much, she bought it outright. And check out the user reviews: nearly 200 buyers rated it 4.7 stars out of 5 on average.
I don't own a Nest myself, but I did recently adopt a Venstar ColorTouch T5800, which shares the Nest's capability of being controlled by an app. That feature alone is worth the price of admission -- nothing beats being able to tweak the temperature while you're, say, lying in bed or heading home.
What's more, the Nest may well pay for itself over time. As it learns your habits, it heats or cools your home accordingly, and automatically shuts off the system when it senses you're away. Even if it saves you only $10-15 per month on energy bills, well, it adds up.
I will admit that for the extra $50, I'd probably spring for the newer Nest. But if your programmable-thermostat budget won't stretch quite that far, this is a nice deal on last year's model. Your thoughts?
Nest Learning Thermostat hands-on video
Bonus deal: For a limited time, Amazon is knocking $30-50 off the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" tablet when you apply coupon code FIRELOVE at checkout. How does it compare with, say, the iPad Mini and Nook HD+? They all have their pros and cons. But $269 for the 16GB Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch (with ads) is a pretty sweet deal any way you slice it.
Bonus deal No. 2: I'm not sure for how much longer, but the iOS version of the classic board game Ticket to Ride is currently free. It's normally two bucks -- and well worth it, in my humble opinion. (But free is better.)
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