While this news could have been fresher (I got hit with bronchitis, leave me alone!), there was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity to write about my favourite company’s latest big news. Nest, everyone’s favourite internet-darling smart-thermostat company is teaming up with US-based provider of residential solar electricity, Sunrun, to provide consumers the chance to “produce inexpensive, clean solar power and then manage it effectively.”
“With energy costs rising and an increased interest in finding ways to conserve energy, the Nest-Sunrun offering comes at the perfect time,” said Erik Charlton, Nest vice president of business. “On its own, the Nest Learning Thermostat can help people reduce their energy use, but by teaming up with Sunrun, we can make an even bigger impact by contributing to a cleaner, healthier environment.”
Starting September 1 (bronchitis, remember?) and running through to the end of October, US homeowners who purchase a Sunrun package will receive a home energy package that includes a free Nest Learning Thermostat, valued at $249. They’ll also get $250 worth of free energy, plus Sunrun’s nigh-unbeatable professional service — purchasing, installation, maintenance, repairs, monitoring, and insurance.
If you haven’t been paying attention to my almost-rabid Nest coverage, then I can only assume you have been hiding under a rock (or an old thermostat). After its introduction in late 2011, Nest was quickly made available at Amazon, before introducing Airwave, an option that claimed to be able to reduce air-conditioning runtime by up to 30%. In April of this year, Nest revealed Rush Hour Rewards and Seasonal Savings, and then acquired online utility usage company MyEnergy. In May, Nest was introduced to US Home Depot Stores, and then two months later, it was able to provide its first statistics on just how well Rush Hour Rewards had performed.
On June 27th in Austin, Texas, Nest thermostats running Rush Hour Rewards cut AC runtime during the hottest part of the day by 56%, on average.
We thoroughly tested Rush Hour Rewards, of course. We knew it would work.
The results were impressive: for two hours that afternoon, as outside temperatures soared to 102°F, AC runtime was cut in half. That’s compared to how much energy we calculate people would have used that afternoon, based on their schedules and the weather.
Nest pre-cooled many of the homes before the rush hour, then let temperatures drift up less than 1.6°F on average. The result? Almost everyone stuck with it—only 10% of people adjusted the temperature at all during the rush hour.
The next day? It happened again.
Temperatures climbed even higher and there was another energy rush hour. This time it was 106°F outside and Rush Hour Rewards cut AC use by an average of 49% during the rush hour. Only 12% of Nesters adjusted the temperatures Nest set.
With energy prices rising and about 50% of an average home’s energy bill being made up of heating and cooling costs, Sunrun’s partnership with Nest is unsurprising at worst, brilliant at best. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity [PDF] predicted several years ago that households earning over $22,000 a year would be spending 21% of their average income on energy, a continually growing figure up from only 12% a decade earlier. It was the US Government that noted “heating and cooling your home … typically [makes] up about 54% of your utility bill.”
Unsurprisingly, then, people are making a shift towards smarter technologies which allow more control and lower bills. Nest and Sunrun are both prime examples of this, representing companies providing exactly what consumers need mere moments before they realised they needed it.
“Sunrun and Nest joined forces because we want to make it easy – and even enjoyable – for people to live more efficient and comfortable lives,” said Sunrun co-CEO Lynn Jurich. “At Sunrun, we empower homeowners to create their own energy at a lower cost than they’re paying now, while we take care of everything else. Nest helps them be more efficient with that power. We are excited by the future possibilities of a complete home energy system that begins with smart energy management and cleaner, less expensive solar energy.”
CleanTechnica has similarly been covering Sunrun a heap. This year alone Sunrun brought its $0 upfront home solar opportunity to residents in Long Island, landed an additional $630 million for more home solar installations, as well as made it very clear that the company was not a fan of the petition for a solar feed-in tariff in California or US feed-in tariffs in general.
Two of the most enterprising environmentally aware and consumer-friendly companies have teamed up to bring cheaper and cleaner energy to US consumers — what more could we really ask for?
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