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Are you cooling an empty home? There’s a solution

CUB Executive Director David Kolata speaks at the Illinois Commerce Commission about the benefits of smart thermostats on consumers’ pocketbooks.

Amid the hottest month of the year, consumer advocates joined with Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) 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 at a news conference Tuesday at the ICC.

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 (ELPC) and Citizens Utility Board (CUB). Under this initiative smart thermostats like the ecobee4 Smart Thermostat with built-in Alexa and the Nest Learning Thermostat are eligible for up to $150 in rebates offered by ComEd and other Illinois gas utilities for customers with WiFi, central air and a furnace. The rebates nearly halve the cost of the devices which retail for $249.

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.

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.”

To make it easier for customers to redeem rebates, ComEd recently 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.

CUB would like to thank Anne Prammagiore, CEO of ComEd, ICC Chairman Brien Sheahan acting ICC Commissioner Sadzi Martha Oliva, and Brian Jakubiak, Director of Media Relations for ELPC for attending and spreading the word about this program that can save consumers millions.

Thanks also to ABC 7 Chicago, NBC 5 Chicago  and the Chicago Tribune for spreading the word about how this rebate can save consumers hundreds a year on their electric bills.

Have more questions about how smart thermostats work and the benefits to your pocketbook? Visit our smart thermostat fact sheet for an updated list of eligible thermostats for a rebate.