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How I Scored My Smart Thermostat for the Free

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The weather has been crazy lately. In some places, Spring thinks it’s Winter and in others, Spring thinks it is Summer already. Needless to say, AC units are growing muscles these days with all the work in either temperature direction. A smart thermostat can be a helpful tool in regulating those energy costs, especially if you are not home most of the day.

My house came with the standard, cookie-cutter thermostat. You know, the¬†typical one with a heat/cool/off switch and buttons to change the temperature. It’s actually pretty easy to save on heating and cooling when you have to manually turn your system on, but if you like to program your thermostats, then one of these newer Wi-Fi enabled devices is a definite plus.

I think one of the biggest deterrents is the price point. These systems may be upwards into $250 and for someone whose current system is working fine, that may not make much sense at all. However, many utility companies across the country are giving incentive programs to encourage customers to make the switch.

The program for my local electric company was simple. If you had central refrigerated air, Wi-Fi, and a smart thermostat in your house, they would give you a $125 enrollment incentive for each thermostat installed and then a $25 annual participation incentive at the end of September each year.

The catch was that from June 1 to September 30, they could send a signal to your thermostat during high energy usage time periods to prevent your home from reaching certain temperatures. You had the option to manually opt out of an event when it was occurring, but I believe that opting in was a piece of getting that $25 participation incentive. Also, they would not install the device for you.

I ended up opting for the ecobee3 lite at the time, so once I got the participation incentive, the system essentially paid for itself. In future years, the participation incentive will keep coming (until the program ends I assume). A win-win.

You may live in a place where you aren’t able to install a new thermostat, but that’s okay. Some knowledge is better than no knowledge. Plus, there are other ways to save on your electric bill that you should take advantage of. Now if only my water company would create some incentive program for me to save on that as well.


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Prince is a full-time pharmacist, part-time blogger that enjoys a lot of the simple things in life. Definitely a natural minimalist and that's that.

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