The headline has been updated to reflect that Nest is not donating the thermostats.
- Google-owned Nest Labs Inc. has revealed plans to donate 1 million of the company's smart thermostats to low-income homes as part of its Power Project. The project is part of a larger effort spanning five years to address the "vast discrepancy" in household energy costs.
- Average American households spend roughly 3.5% of their income on energy bills, while a fifth of families spends 20% or more, according to the company. Nest boasts that its learning thermostats have saved 22 billion kWh of energy so far, and plan to bring that power of efficiency to bear on the energy bills of low-income households.
- Nest's partners on this initiative include Southern California Gas (SoCalGas), the largest gas utility in the country. Utilities are increasingly looking at a range of consumer technologies, including smart thermostats, as a potential resource on both sides of the meter.
According to the company, an average low-income household spends as much as 20% to 50% of its income each month to heat and cool their homes — a disparity that can make managing finances near impossible for them.
Nest pledged 4,000 Thermostat E units to Habitat for Humanity, and will donate 10% of the proceeds of all thermostats sold between April 16-30 to Habitat in support the organization’s work. Fannie Mae will also offer the Nest Thermostat E in some areas to individuals utilizing its low- to moderate-income mortgage program.
Nest's utility partners will also work to distribute the thermostats, expanding their existing initiatives to make energy bills affordable. SoCalGas vice president Lisa Alexander said the company's energy efficiency and rebate programs "have saved customers $161 million" over the past five years.
Nest's thermostat has become a household name and was the first of its kind to gain traction with consumers in the United States. Energy monitoring devices before the Nest failed to gain traction, in part because they didn't translate into savings, and their functionality was limited.