A select few of Energate’s HōlHōm smart thermostat owners in the Chicago area will soon be offered a new feature – to enable “Clean Power Mode” by WattTime. Those of you already familiar with WattTime can guess how it works: in Clean Power Mode, these thermostats will actively prioritize electricity from environmentally-friendly power plants by shifting electricity consumption to moments when those power plants have surplus energy.
As usual with WattTime, we’ve also bent over backwards to ensure that enabling this feature will be free, effortless, and will not affect how comfortable anyone’s home or office is. That’s possible because air conditioners and heaters work by continuously cycling on and off anyway, so they can easily deploy WattTime’s timing-based technology just by making those cycles happen intelligently, not at random times.
It really is environmentalism, made effortless. Sound pretty good? We know that in surveys, the vast majority of people agree, telling us that they would choose a smart thermostat with a feature like that.
But, as any good social scientist knows, it's easy to say something in a survey. You have to also check what people really do in practice. So, as part of the work we’re doing supported by the Great Lakes Protection Fund, our wonderful partner Delta Institute is helping us conduct this pilot with Energate as a careful, scientifically rigorous test. What Delta is measuring is, if two smart devices are sold side by side and only one of them offers Clean Power Mode, does it make buyers choose that one more often? If it turns out the answer is yes, we think other companies who sell smart devices will quickly get the message that choosing to go green is just plain good business. Since 40% of thermostat sales nationwide are now smart thermostats, that could add up to a lot of devices, pretty fast.
Because this pilot is a science experiment as much as a product release, not just anyone can sign up for a WattTime-enabled smart thermostat from Energate today. But if the pilot does find that Clean Power Mode is indeed popular, we’ll be expanding to other regions soon. If you’d be interested in trying the world’s first smart thermostat that automatically prioritizes clean energy, you can sign up on our mailing list here.