Alliant Energy is starting a new energy-saving program that the utility’s demand-side manager, Kari Gehrke, describes as “a simple way [for customers] to save money and reduce their carbon footprint at the same time.”
The program, known as Smart Hours, offers customers a $25 sign-up bonus and annual payments of $25 in exchange for allowing the utility to adjust the temperature in their homes by a few degrees less than 20 times a year.
Alliant will use a third-party vendor to connect with manufacturers like Ecobee or Nest to install smart thermostats in customers’ homes. The utility can then remotely relay requests to increase or lower thermostat settings based on the customer’s comfort level. The goal is to reduce energy consumption during peak demand hours, especially in periods of extreme temperatures, which in turn reduces energy costs.
“Smart thermostats give customers more control over their energy use and make it easier than ever to reduce their energy bills,” said Gehrke. “Our Smart Hours program allows customers to personalize their temperature preferences and increase the flexibility of their heating and cooling systems.”
The utility claims that it will rarely reduce customers’ energy use for more than 4 hours, and never on holidays or weekends. If consumers are unsatisfied or uncomfortable with the settings, they can override them at any given time.
Smart Hours, according to a company statement, “helps Alliant Energy use more environmentally friendly energy sources to meet electricity demand on extremely hot and cold days” and allows Alliant to “keep electricity costs lower for all customers.”
By installing a smart thermostat, customers can expect their bills to reduce by an average of 10 percent. “Empowering customers to be more energy efficient is one more way we deliver on our purpose-driven strategy to serve customers and build strong communities,” said Gehrke.
According to documents filed with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, Smart Hours and two other programs are estimated to reduce peak electrical demands by up to 6 megawatts by 2023. One program connects water heaters through the internet for the utility to regulate. The other improves the efficiency of cold storage warehouses.
By next year, Alliant Energy hopes to enroll 7,000 customers with internet connected smart thermostats in the Smart Hours program, letting Wisconsin residents save money every month.