Austin Energy customers can get an $85 rebate for participating in a new smart thermostat program that enables customers to control their air conditioning and heating with their smart phones or online no matter where they are day or night.

How Does it Work?

In  return for the $85, customers agree to allow Austin Energy to raise their thermostats over the Internet a few degrees (no more than 4 degrees) incrementally from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. about 10 to 15 days during the summer if needed when energy use in Texas is high. Austin Energy does not adjust the temperature on weekends nor holidays.

The programmable thermostats help customers save up to 20 percent on their air conditioning and heating costs. Customers who agree to participate in the Austin Energy program also help reduce electricity use during critical times in the summer when the Texas electric grid is strained and power supplies are short.

By participating, customers help to enhance the quality of life and the economy of the area and Texas by ensuring electricity keeps flowing to homes, schools, businesses and other organizations and employers during hot summer afternoons. “With power supplies expected to continue to be tight until enough new generation is built in Texas, all customers need to pitch in by helping to save energy,” said Fred Yebra, Austin Energy Director of Energy Efficiency Services. “These new generation thermostats make it convenient for customers to reduce energy use while saving money on their energy bill.”

The smart thermostats also are capable of learning customer habits for preferred comfort and temperatures and help the customer adjust their habits accordingly to achieve maximum energy savings while increasing comfort in their homes.

Although it no longer offers its free thermostat program, Austin Energy will also continue to operate its original thermostat program – which was the largest free thermostat program in the country. Austin Energy contractors installed 90,000 of the older generation, one-way communication thermostats. Those thermostats help Austin Energy reduce peak electric use by as much as 40 megawatts during the hottest part of the summer.

Next Steps

The new Austin Energy smart thermostat program has been in pilot stage for several months. The Austin City Council this week is scheduled to consider final approval and funding of the program.