Nest will give smart thermostats to low-income families to help with energy costs

Smart home technology giant Nest is putting its money where its mouth is for Earth Day with an ambitious, country-planning initiative to address the vast discrepancy in home energy costs in America.

The company’s new scheme is called The Power Project. Its primary goal is to install one million energy-and-money-saving thermostats in low and moderate-income homes over the next five years. To reach this goal, Nest has assembled an impressive network of partners that include huge and well-known nonprofit organizations as well as utility programs, governments, and housing finance agencies.

A landing site for the initiative will include articles, stories, and a short documentary highlighting three families struggling with their energy bills. The Power Project site will also connect families to energy assistance programs serving their areas, and will field donations to community organizations that will be matched by Nest.

The Power Project’s most significant recipient may be Habitat for Humanity, which will receive 4,000 Nest Thermostat E units that will be available to local Habitat organizations for homes they are building or improving in 2018. Furthermore, Nest will donate ten percent of the proceeds from sales of all its thermostats sold between April 16-30 to Habitat.

“Too often, the people who would benefit most from energy upgrades are least able to afford them,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International.

The donations are in line with the project’s goals to reduce the wild inconsistency Nest discovered in investigating the energy costs around the country. The average American household spends a little over three percent of their income on energy costs, but a variety of factors make things harder for low and moderate-income families. In reality, one in five families spend 20 percent or more on heating and cooling their homes, and that percentage can rise to as high as 50 percent in some parts of the country.

Energy insecurity is a major factor that impacts nonprofits around the country, such as The Action Shelter in Lakewood, Colorado, which works with clients to ease their energy burden. Nest discovered through its research that low-income households spent three times more, as a percentage of their income, each month to heat and cool their homes than the average household. Nonprofits are also familiar with the pattern where energy insecurity creates other terrible problems, forcing families to make choices between energy bills and rent, food, and healthcare.

Other partners in The Power Project’s network include housing finance giant Fannie Mae, which will equip borrowers in its low-to-moderate-income mortgage program with smart thermostats. Nest will also empower its energy partners such as Southern California Gas to continue to offer utility programs that help customers lower their energy burden.

“Creating a home that takes care of the people inside it and the world around it has been Nest’s mission since day one,” said Jeff Hamel, head of energy partnerships at Nest. “We’ve joined with Habitat for Humanity, Fannie Mae, and energy providers across the country this Earth Day to bring this mission to life through The Power Project, to connect families with the tools and programs that can help alleviate the burden of high energy costs. Every family deserves to have heat in the cold and light in the dark.”

Founded in 2011 by former Apple Engineers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, Nest has become a major player in the cascading smart home market. Since the company launched, its thermostats have saved more than 22 billion kilowatt-hours of energy, enough electricity to power New York State for more than 100 days.

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