Some of you who read this can’t wait to have an application monitor and control your home environment, while others among you have no intention of giving up the ability to control your home thermostat. However, for those of you who are interested in saving a few dollars, controlling your thermostat remotely could meet your needs while allowing you to keep a few more of those hard-earned dollars in your pocket. Apparently, these applications are offered by many of the major electric suppliers in the US that are willing to exchange profit for control. They believe that, if you are willing to let them control your home thermostat, it will help them avoid the necessity of forcing brownouts and potential blackouts due to supply shortages. This is seen a win-win — especially during the height of seasons where you need to run the furnace or air conditioning unit.
While I have not been faced with this situation in a while, about 12 years ago I lived in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Northern California. This area was noted for its rolling blackouts and the fact that high energy prices were kicking everyone’s butt. However, like many of you who are reading this, I was just going through life minding my own business when up cropped a contrived electrical crisis in which the people were raked over the coals. I won’t go into the mechanics and shenanigans that created this artificial shortage, but one lesson we all learned is that energy use needs to be conserved and controlled.
Perhaps due to what occurred 12 years ago, we now have electrical suppliers, like New York’s Con Ed, that will give you a free, Internet-controlled thermostat. The thermostat can be controlled from any computer, tablet, or smartphone that has Internet access and a user can control the temperature in their home or small business via their device. However, there is one small catch: In order to get the free thermostat, you must agree to give Con Ed access to your thermostat during peak energy usage so that it can control your home’s temperature, thus giving it the ability to conserve energy that it can then transfer elsewhere.
According to Con Ed, the other advantages of the program are:
- You will be able to program your thermostat from the Internet or from a smartphone application
- The unit will manage your energy use to match your lifestyle
- This access will help all users reduce air pollution
- This means of control will ensure everyone receives reliable power
- It will keep you or your small business from having to make upgrades to your current system
For all of us who depend on electricity to cool or heat our homes or small businesses, we can understand a system designed to manage our energy use if it is also matched to our lifestyles. Think about it: For those of us who work during the day, we may not need the temperature to be set as low or as high during our working hours as we would like it to be set when we are at home. I know there have been many times that I’ve left home and forgotten to turn up the temperature a few degrees to save energy and not waste it. I could have saved both money and energy if I had a system that would control the thermostat when I was away from the house.
Another advantage that Con Ed claims is that the fan in your home’s central air conditioning unit can be set to remain on, even when the cooling portion of the unit is off. This will supposedly help to keep your home comfortable, even when the unit is off. Con Ed further states that this feature could be bypassed if need be.
One additional feature that I find amazing — besides the free thermostat — is that Con Ed will install the unit in your home or small business for free. For me, that made the offer one that would be difficult to turn down. Con Ed has even gone so far as to extend its offer not only to homeowners, but also to apartment dwellers. This should be a real blessing since many rentals and apartments are not built with saving energy in mind and the cost to tenants can be extremely high. So, if you wish to control your home’s environment via the Internet or smartphone application, it is available to everyone regardless of which kind of residence they maintain.
In other words, there is an option out there for apartment dwellers, homeowners, those on a fixed income, or just those who are energy conscious.
Source: Scientific American