by Beth Buczynski:  Reducing home energy consumption can be as simple as programming your thermostat to raise or reduce the indoor temperature depending on the time of day, and your normal routine. But for Tony Fadell, a former Apple employee who had a hand in designing the iPod, that simple functionality just wasn’t enough.In late 2011, Fadell returned to the technology market with Nest, a smart thermostat that learns about one’s behaviors, preferences and surroundings to create a custom heating and cooling schedule. According to the developer, Nest’s intuition comes from a combination of sensors, algorithms, machine learning, and cloud computing. Within a week, it’s able to learn your personal schedule, automatically turning down heating or cooling when you’re away, cutting energy costs by up to 50 percent. No other “smart meter” or programmable thermostat does that.

Nest Thermostat

image via Nest

Wondering what it would be like to see the Nest in action? You’re in luck. The company recently announced that the thermostat will be available for purchase and hands on demonstrations at over 500 Lowe’s Home Improvement stores across the nation. The stores will feature Nest in their new in-store Innovation merchandising displays, as well as online. This partnership puts Nest within reach of millions of mainstream consumers, and allows them to get installation advice from Lowe’s customer service reps.

And there’s more than ever to see. Just last month, we reported on Nest’s latest round of high tech upgrades, including an expanded energy history view—this time a full 10 days—available as a Web application and via both Android and iPhone smartphones; access to Airwave, a new and exclusive energy-saving feature which sucks every last breath of cold air from your air conditioning system; and Wifi connectivity.