A “smart” way to save money

20151008_SmartThermostatSmart thermostats—devices that allow you to remotely control your temperature settings from your smart phone, tablet, or home computer— are a great way to save energy and money on your utility bills. Now, consumer advocates hope to see these innovative devices installed in one million homes with the help of special utility discounts to make them more affordable and accessible to customers across Northern Illinois.

The smart thermostat initiative, a partnership between the utilities and advocacy groups, is the largest effort of its kind in the nation. It makes ecobee and Nest thermostats eligible for up to $120 in rebates for customers with WiFi, central air and a furnace. The rebates nearly halve the cost of the devices, which normally retail for $249.


“If we put those pieces of the puzzle together, Illinois will be a world leader in smart technology and energy innovation,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata said.

CUB joined with the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), ComEd, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas, Nicor Gas, and manufacturers ecobee and Nest Labs to announce the rebates Thursday.  Also in attendance were special guests, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy and Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) Chairman Brien Sheahan.

“Smart technology is making it possible to give consumers  more control over  their energy costs than ever before, and today we’re demonstrating our commitment to help them capitalize on these opportunities,” Executive Director David Kolata said at Thursday’s launch.


U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was on hand to applaud the initiative

Wi-Fi-connected smart thermostats allow customers to finely tune and monitor energy use from the convenience of their phone, tablet or home computer. The technology “learns” user behavior over time to optimize comfort and generate energy savings automatically.

Eligible ComEd customers who seek the rebate must purchase the Nest or ecobee thermostat between Oct. 5, 2015 and May 31, 2016, install the thermostat on compatible central air conditioner, heat pump, or electric heating system (thermostats installed by contractors are eligible for a different rebate), and then submit an application.  Rebate checks should be received by customers within six weeks.

CUB's Laura Goldberg investigates the new devices

CUB’s Laura Goldberg investigates one of the new devices

Visit the following websites for more information:

UPDATE: Check out the news coverage the launch received…

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7 Responses to A “smart” way to save money

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  4. Kathy Glanton says:

    Does anybody know it this Smart Thermostat works for an apartment with electric heating? My husband and I are senior citizens and do not own a home, but our heat runs pretty high during the winter months. Would this thermostat save us any money?

  5. Tom Herlacher says:

    Is it too simple minded to simply install a programmable thermostat and set up the days and times for the heating and cooling system to operate? Or is that only for idiots like me who are not addicted to staring at their cell phones for hours on end?

    • Brandon Galbraith says:

      Hey Tom!

      I don’t think you’re an idiot, but you’re not up to speed on why the Nest is important.

      First, it detects when you’re home, and if you’re not home, it’ll let the temperature of your house fluctuate a bit more. This saves you money, and saves on energy use. Win #1

      Second, the Nest can determine how long it can continue cooling your home from the residual “coolness” of the coils in your air exchanger after your AC compressor has stopped. This, again, saves you money and saves on energy use! Win #2

      Third, the Nest can automatically build a heating and/or cooling schedule you for based on when you’re home and when you’re out. Again! This saves you money and saves energy. Win #3

      Fourth, ComEd partners with Nest and Google for demand shedding. What does this mean? Well, its super expensive for a utility to spin up more power generation when everyone is sucking down power for their AC compressors, so instead, ComEd sends a signal to Google (who owns Nest) and says: “Hey! Can those folks who want a discount on their power bill who signed up for it have their AC compressor shut down for ~30 minutes? Its cheaper than turning on the natural gas jet engines to make more power!” Your house gets a bit warmer for the next 30-60 minutes, but ComEd saves money, which saves you money (remember! they’re a regulated utility!). Win #4

      Wow, thats a lot of wins for only $130! Dumb thermostats can do none of this, and why people find it to be an inexpensive cost for the value received. I hope this has helped!

      Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Nest, Google, or ComEd. I simply have a Nest, love it, and give them to family as gifts.

      • Tom Herlacher says:

        Well, I already have my $75 thermostat programmed for the days and times when I’m home and when I’m gone or in bed under the covers and don’t need to heat the house up to 75 degrees. So I have Win #1 and Win #3. I normally keep the fan turned on to circulate air in the house and keep things more comfortable so I have Win #2 also. I don’t have ComEd so I can’t do win #4. And I only have to program my thermostat once or make occasional program changes without having to sit and stare at my cell phone every day deciding when to adjust the temperature in my house. The Nest thermostat sounds great for people addicted to their cell phones though. I will remember that.
        Thanks for your reply.

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