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Nest will provide 1 million thermostats to low-income homes as part of new Power Project

Photo by Jake Kastrenakes / The Verge

Nest announced the Power Project today, an initiative that the company says is meant to raise awareness about the burden that utilities like energy can place on low-income families. The average US household spends 3.5 percent of income on energy, but one in five families spends 20 percent or more on their bill, and that can lead to a real struggle and hard decisions when budgeting.

“We’re committed to installing one million energy- and money-saving thermostats in homes that need them most over the next five years by collaborating with energy companies, housing agencies like Fannie Mae, and non-profit organizations that are working to bring energy efficiency to everyone,” the company said in a press release.

The Power Project site includes tips for weatherizing your home against the seasons.

Nest will give those organizations “special pricing” on the Nest Thermostat E (normally $169) to make it cheaper or cost-free to install the device in income-qualified American homes. Among the company’s partners is Habitat for Humanity. “As part of our shared vision for creating thoughtful and sustainable homes, Nest is donating a Nest Thermostat E to every Habitat for Humanity home built in the U.S. in 2018,” the company said. “And for the two weeks around Earth Day, April 16th through April 30th, 10 percent of the proceeds from sales of Nest thermostats (up to $500,000) will be donated to organizations like Habitat for Humanity that are bringing energy efficient solutions to the people who need them most.”

But awareness is also a key goal of the Power Project. Nest has data visualizations (like the one above) for your own neighborhood and beyond, where you can “explore the impact of the energy burden in communities across the country.” For those willing to make donations to organizations that help out struggling families, Nest will match donations up to $250,000. The site also lists programs from utility companies (like ConEd and National Grid in my area) that can provide assistance in some cases to help customers meet their energy needs without sacrificing other necessities.