Programmable Thermostats

Even more than your refrigerator, heating and cooling probably take the biggest chunk out of your home energy dollar. While better insulation is almost always worth the money, here’s a much cheaper idea: With a programmable thermostat, you can set your heater or air conditioner to take a break when you’re asleep or out of the house, and turn back on just before you get home. A bare-bones model costs about $25; you can install it yourself; and it could pay for itself in a single month. The new NEST programmable thermostat, designed by the original designer of the iPod, is a bit pricier. But you can control it from a smart phone, and it even programs itself.