Nest Learning Thermostat
There were home automation products before Nest — fussy lighting and cameras for rich guys, mainly — but this WiFi-connected thermostat is leading the current push for genuinely smart gear in the home. Despite being released four years ago, making it ancient, by the standards of Silicon Valley, the Nest Learning Thermostat remains better than the competing products that have shown up since. Its touch-sensitive screen and aluminum construction are a surprisingly good fit for different kinds of decor, and its ability to learn when and how high (or low) you set the temperature, and then replicate that behavior, is a feature that no one should live without. You can also schedule heating and cooling with the app.
More than just a pretty, smartphone-connected upgrade over traditional thermostats, Nest appears to save its users real money. In February, Nest Labs cited the results of three studies (one conducted by the company, which is owned by Google, and two that were conducted independently), which showed that the thermostat's programming and self-programming features saved Nest owners in the U.S. 15 percent on cooling and up to 12 percent on heating, or as much as $145 annually. We'd recommend Nest solely for its convenience and design, but the fact that it appears to save real money makes it something that should be in every home, as soon as possible. [$249; store.nest.com]