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How a Smart Thermostat Can Protect Your Home from Brownouts


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Summer’s here, and for some parts of the country, it’s going to be challenging to escape the extreme temperatures. Air conditioning is a must-have for those mid-July heatwaves, even more so for those with respiratory troubles and other health conditions. The trouble with summer and air conditioning, though, is that everyone on your street or in your apartment building has the same idea as you: They want to be cold, and they want to stay cold. When there’s too much strain on your local power grid, there’s a chance a brownout may occur. This is a temporary lag in electrical power that can affect your home for a few minutes or up to several hours.

Thankfully, today’s homes are significantly smarter and more efficient when it comes to combating high energy demands from appliances and HVAC systems. Take, for instance, the beauty and wonder of smart thermostats, which monitor and regulate the temperature of your home. They’re far more efficient because they’ll kick off your air conditioning system when you’re not home, or simply operate it at a lower capacity to maintain a specific temperature. They learn your habits over time to reduce power consumption, saving you money in the long run.

Here are some tips on how you can protect your home from brownouts using a smart thermostat:

  • Set your temperature to a lower level or turn it off completely if no one is home. If you have a pet, you’ll want to keep them comfortable by maintaining a specific temperature.
  • Don’t set your AC system to kick on as soon as you get home. Instead, it’s more efficient to have your smart thermostat turn on earlier, prior to your arrival, to give it more time to slowly get your home to a pleasant level.
  • Close or lower your blinds. This will help with maintaining a cooler home when you’re not there and will allow your smart thermostat to work more effectively as well.
  • Sign up for programs that can reward you for using a smart thermostat.

If you happen to own a Nest Thermostat, there’s even more of an incentive for you because of the Rush Hour Rewards program. Energy rush hours occur when there’s a surge of power consumption during a heatwave because everyone in a particular area turns on their air conditioning system in an attempt to cool down their homes quickly. You can imagine the stress that the power grid endures during these energy rush hours, which can potentially result in a brownout or blackout. Here’s how to test your thermostat.

However, by signing up for Nest’s Rush Hour Rewards program, you’ll be sent alerts about when these energy rush hours are expected to occur by the power company. Rather than being set to kick on at your usual time, your Nest Thermostat will automatically modify your cooling schedule to work around rush hour. Right now, New York residents who are under Con Edison’s coverage can earn $85 when they buy a Nest thermostat and sign up for the program. Those around Portland can earn up to $75 with the program.

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