IoT Pays Off: Ecobee and Xcel Energy team up for "AC Rewards"

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Companies and consumers alike are beginning to reap the rewards of the "Internet of Things". A while back, I wrote a review of the Ecobee 3 Lite smart thermostat, a HomeKit-compatible thermostat that works well with Siri. Not only has the Ecobee 3 Lite down a great job of keeping our house comfortable, but it's now going to save us even more money on our electrical bill. Ecobee has teamed up with utility company Xcel Energy for a program called AC Rewards in which the utility can remotely control the thermostat on high-demand hot summer days to reduce electrical loads.

Signing up for the program requires one of four Ecobee thermostat models or one of three Honeywell smart thermostats (see image below), as well as service by Xcel Energy. Once signed up -- which takes less than a minute if you know your Xcel Energy and Ecobee account passwords -- consumers get a $75 signup bonus and an additional $25 each year that they remain in the AC Rewards program.

This may point the way to future ways that utilities or other organizations can use the Internet of Things to ease demand during peak periods. For example, it's not entirely out of the question to think of water utilities teaming with companies like Rachio to control water usage through smart sprinkler controllers. 

Xcel Energy is an investor-owned utility holding company with customers in eight US states.