New York City’s energy provider is playing it cool this summer by turning regular window-unit air conditioners into remote-access “smartACs,” and it’s free to customers.
Consolidated Edison Inc. (NYSE:ED), locally known as ConEd, is partnering with device maker ThinkEco to provide free plug-in "smartAC" units that allow customers to control their window air conditioners from an iPhone or Android smartphone.
ConEd is providing up to five free devices per household in a bid to reduce energy demand.
The program does have a single caveat, though, called the demand response program. Up to five times throughout the summer (which ConEd defines as May through October), ConEd will have“events” where they will remotely increase the temperature at which your AC turns on, with the goal of reducing the strain on the power grid on peak days.
ConEd says it will notify customers via email a day in advance of the event, and consumers can opt out of each event individually.
ThinkEco’s Modlet, short for “modern electrical outlet,” is a Wi-Fi-enabled device that connects an AC unit to the Internet via an electrical outlet adapter. The Modlet then connects to a wireless thermometer, which can turn on or turn off your AC unit.
This is the fourth year that ConEd is running its CoolNYC energy initiative. The utility wants the CoolNYC program to help reduce the load on the metropolis’ energy grid, saying that “there are over 6 million window air conditioners in New York City, which together contribute 20 percent of summertime electricity demand.”
By using a smartphone app, consumers can remotely monitor and adjust their apartment’s temperature, possibly saving money by turning off the air conditioning after they have left their homes. Additionally, customers can begin cooling their apartments before going home so they're comfortable by the time they get there.
ConEd will, of course, monitor customers' AC usage to better understand electricity needs and habits. “The goal is to reduce overall energy use, while keeping [customers’] homes cool,” said a company statement.
Customers who sign up for the program will have to install the smartAC system by the end of July, or return the devices to ThinkEco. If the devices are not returned, customers will be charged $139 per device.
As an added benefit, ConEd is further incentivizing customers with a $25 gift card given at the end of the summer.
If you're interested and you live in New York City, you can sign up at www.coolnycprogram.com/signup/.