By Tom Barlow, dealnews contributor As winter settles over much of the country and the bills from Christmas start arriving, some folks may find themselves also wincing every time the furnace kicks on. That's because for many homes, the cost of heating and cooling is a major monthly expense. To combat these costs, energy experts recommend a programmable thermostat, which can make almost every home more energy efficient and save the household money. However, presently only 40% of households have switched to programmable thermostats, and a University of Davis study notes that even the ones that do have them have actually realized no significant savings over those with mechanical thermostats. The reason for this seemingly contradictory report? The programmable thermostats were "too complicated" to use, so most people simply dialed in one temperature and left it there. Enter the Nest Learning Thermostat: an easy-to-use and modern programmable thermostat that will help save money on home heating and cooling costs. The Nest Learning Thermostat Designed by former Apple engineers, the Nest boasts an interface and simple design that's light years beyond its predecessors. Its compact size and stainless-steel, circular body frames an LCD screen. Plus, the kit contains the appropriate back plates that fit behind the Nest in order to cover any newly-revealed unpainted wall. The Nest's most important feature however is its Internet connectivity. The WiFi-enabled device can be accessed through an accompanying Android and iOS app, which allows users to control their home's heating and air conditioning systems from almost anywhere. Additional Nests can be linked to the same app too, allowing users to control the temperatures of multiple properties with the click of a button. The Nest can also access weather information, which is useful for generating daily, weekly, or monthly reports to track energy usage. Installing the Nest Learning Thermostat The Nest is simple to install, and can be done in under 30 minutes, provided one knows how to change a light switch. Josh Smith of GottaBeMobile agrees and calls the Nest "pretty amazing" for its ability to control the heating and cooling of a home wirelessly. He also appreciates how, instead of programming temperatures for dates and times, the thermostat learns the homeowner habits over the course of the first few weeks, and sets itself on a schedule. But keep in mind that not every home heating and cooling setup is compatible with the Nest Learning Thermostat system. But unlike many WiFI enabled thermostats, the Nest Learning Thermostat does not need a dedicated C, or power, wire. There are other system requirements, so be sure to check compatibility. And for those homeowners who would prefer to have a professional install their Nest Learning Thermostat, a concierge service is available for a $119. Which Nest Thermostat Is Right for You? Currently there are two generations of Nest Learning Thermostats available. The first-generation Nest Learning Thermostat ($198 with free shipping, a low by $25) is the model that Josh Smith calls out as one of his favorite gadgets (and raves about in his 6-month review) and is compatible with 75% of home heating setups. The newer, second-generation Nest Learning Thermostat ($249.95 with free shipping), on the other hand, will work with 95% of home heating setups and includes added features like compatibility with an auxiliary and emergency heat pump, and offers control over home humidifiers and dehumidifiers. Some shoppers may be put off by the initial cost of the Nest, as it's quite a bit more expensive than other programmable thermostats. Nest claims, however, that it can save households up to 20% on heating and air conditioning costs. That's a hefty return to consider, especially for people who pay $150 a month for heating and cooling costs. With the Nest Learning Thermostat, those bills could shrink up to $30 a month, and the nest would pay for itself in less than nine months. Ultimately, the Nest is the perfect device for households that want to take control of their energy costs. It's also ideal for folks who haven't got the patience to program their thermostats. And for the hardcore gadget user who wants to track everyday energy usage, the Nest will make your life just a little easier. The Nest Learning Thermostat is a great device that will help households save money on heating and cooling costs. Related dealnews Features: Find Ways to Cut Back on Electricity Bills With This New CEA Energy Calculator A Techie's Top 5: GottaBeMobile's Josh Smith Calls Out His Favorite Gadgets Save $500 on Heating This Winter with These 8 Green Tips Tom Barlow formerly wrote for AOL's WalletPop and DailyFinance, and in addition to his dealnews contributions, he currently writes about lifestyle topics for Forbes.com. Follow @dealnews on Twitter for the latest roundups, price trend info, and stories. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.