More than 1,700 low-income households in Texas are using less energy, which earned them a verbal ‘high five’ from President Obama during his recent speech at the National Clean Energy Summit. The President was there to promote the use and development of smart, simple, low-cost technologies to help households save on their energy bills.

The program the President praised was created by the Texas Public Utility Commission and carried out by Direct Energy, which provided programmable thermostats to the residents in low-income areas. And in partnership with Nest Labs – creators of the Nest Learning Thermostat — Direct Energy plans to continue to distribute these free devices to reach as many homes as possible.

Programmable thermostats come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all of them are designed to help automatically lower the amount spent on heating and cooling. Just look at your family’s daily schedule, and determine those times when the AC — or heater — needs to be running. Or not.

Chances are there’s a good chunk of each day when no one is there, so you can program the thermostat to adjust temperatures for the most efficient energy usage – higher in the summer, lower in the winter. At the designated time, the thermostat will kick on and adjust to the temperature you prefer for that time of day.

The White House has been aggressive in its efforts to help Americans save on energy bills. The U.S. Department of Energy has already put in place appliance efficiency standards that will save consumers nearly $480 billion on their utility bills through 2030, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program continues to help save consumers more than $34 billion per year going forward.

Other government-initiated actions include:

  • Making more financing available to homeowners that want to invest in clean energy technologies
  • A Department of Defense program that adds solar power to housing on more than 40 military bases across the country, including Fort Bliss in El Paso, TX.
  • Making $1 billion in loan guarantees available for distributed energy projects that utilize innovative technology

To learn more about how to save energy in your home here in Texas, you can check your energy provider’s website for useful tips. In addition, the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) has extensive information for residential consumers on its website, including how to save, some do-it-yourself fixes, or where to find an Energy Pro in your area.