Nest will give away smart thermostats to low-income families

It's part of The Power Project, which will help customers lower utility bills.

This Earth Day, Nest Labs, Inc. will launch a new initiative called The Power Project that will help get Nest E thermostats in the hands of lower-income Americans. It's a way to ensure that socioeconomic status isn't a bar to accessing the energy savings that Nest's smart thermostats can provide.

Over the next five years, Nest plans to install one million Nest E thermostats in what it describes as "low- and moderate-income homes." To do this, the company will work with various lenders, government programs, utility companies and non-profits, including Habitat for Humanity, Fannie Mae and Southern California Gas. Plus, if you'd like to donate to an organization in your community, it will help you find them and then match that donation.

The driving force behind all of this is that lower income households spend more of their income on utilities than the average US family. According to Nest, on average, an American household spends 3.5 percent of income on their energy bills. But one in five families spends over 20 percent (some even as high as 50 percent) of their income on heating and cooling their homes. Smart devices like the Nest Thermostat E can help lower those bills.

"Creating a home that takes care of the people inside it and the world around it has been Nest's mission since day one," Jeff Hamel, head of energy partnerships at Nest, said in a statement. "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."