CHICAGO -- Amid the hottest time of the year, consumer advocates joined with ComEd and the Illinois Commerce Commission Tuesday to make Chicago-area consumers aware that cooling an empty home, while they are away at work or on vacation, can cause summer energy bills to soar.
Smart thermostats provide the easy solution to high seasonal bills, and this summer, northern Illinois consumers can take advantage of unprecedented rebates as part of one of the largest thermostat rebate programs in the country.
The "One Million Smart Thermostats" initiative, launched in October 2015, is a partnership between the utilities and the advocacy groups Environmental Law & Policy Center and Citizens Utility Board. Under this initiative smart thermostats are eligible for up to $150 in rebates offered by ComEd and other Illinois gas utilities for customers with Wi-Fi, central air and a furnace. The rebates can help cut the cost of some of these smart devices by more than 50 percent, and give more control to northern Illinois consumers to save money by reducing wasteful energy use.
The goal of the program this year is to double the adoption to 100,000 smart thermostats in households across Illinois. To help create awareness and boost adoption, ComEd has launched an educational campaign and a new instant discount option for customers.
"ComEd's smart thermostat rebate initiative is one of the largest and most active programs in the nation, reducing upfront costs for our customers on a product that gives them more control and even greater savings over time. With just a few taps on a smart thermostat app, customers can manage their household temperature while away from home avoiding unnecessary energy use and costs," said ComEd President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore.
Smart thermostats are WiFi-enabled devices that allow residents to easily control the heating and air conditioning settings through their smartphones, tablets, and computers. The technology is smart because it learns or adapts to user behavior over time and can generate energy savings with very little effort. Residents remain comfortable when home and save money on heating and cooling energy costs while away at work or on vacation.
"Smart thermostats do the work for you -- they adjust the temperature automatically when you're not home," said Rob Kelter, senior attorney for ELPC. "We want even more customers to take advantage of the great technological innovation of smart thermostats and keep more money in their pockets."
CUB Executive Director David Kolata said smart thermostats can help consumers cut their cooling costs by an estimated 10 to 20 percent. "Smart thermostats prove just how easy and effective energy efficiency can be," Kolata said. "The savings from these easy-to-use devices could be substantial -- potentially cutting northern Illinois electric bills by millions of dollars. We urge ComEd customers to take advantage of the unprecedented discounts -- available online and in stores- to buy a smart thermostat this summer."
"The best way for consumers to control their electric bills, and help the environment, is to reduce consumption," said Brien J. Sheahan, Chairman of the ICC. "Smart thermostats give consumers greater control of, and visibility into, their energy use which promotes conservation and helps save money."
To make it easier for customers to redeem rebates, ComEd launched a new website, ComEdMarketplace.com, where customers can shop for smart thermostats and other top-rated energy products and take advantage of online instant rebates that reduce purchase costs.
ComEd officials said the smart thermostat program is part of one of the nation's best-performing energy efficiency programs, saving consumers some $2.5 billion. The ComEd Energy Efficiency Program is about to get even better, thanks to the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), a bipartisan bill that passed the Illinois General Assembly late in 2016 and was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
In June, ComEd filed with the ICC a new Energy Efficiency Program, under FEJA. The law will double customer savings and reduce electricity use in Illinois by 21 percent by 2030.