Google Breaks Ground in Demand Response

Image courtesy of Nest

Image courtesy of Nest

So you just installed a Nest Learning Thermostat, one of the most popular smart thermostats on the market.  You synced it with your smart phone and tablet, and now you’re ready to watch the savings roll in.  Not only can you control the temperature of your home from just about anywhere, you may also have the ability to take advantage of a new program that can earn you a little extra dough.

Google has slowly been stepping out onto the energy scene with its acquisition of Nest Labs, its partial ownership of the Ivanpah solar array, and now, its Nest Rush Hour Rewards Program.  Some may not realize why Google is branching out in this direction, but I’ll tell you why.  Energy efficiency and home automation are taking off!

Nest owners now have the option to participate in an automated residential demand response (DR) program.  I know what you’re thinking: What the whaaat?

Allow me to explain.

Here are the Basics

Think back to the last time you were stuck in rush hour traffic.  Aside from the thunderous obscenities you shouted, what do you remember?  Congested roadways, sluggish movement, and no one getting anywhere fast enough.  Now take that same concept and apply it to the electric grid.

During some of the hottest days of the year, everyone demands more energy to stay cool.  Consequently, the grid becomes clogged, making it difficult for utilities to distribute enough electricity in order to meet the needs of their customers.  That’s where demand response programs make their appearance.

When a situation like this occurs, the grid operator calls for an “event,” signaling DR providers to contact program participants and request a temporary reduction of their energy consumption.  With enough reduction, the electric grid’s congested “traffic” disappears, and energy travels freely, avoiding damaging blackouts to the community.

How Nest Fits into the Equation

Demand response programs were typically restricted to large businesses or organizations that consume a significant amount of electricity on a daily basis.  These days, residents are getting in on the action as well.

Nest owners have an added convenience.  When a DR event is triggered, their thermostats can automatically adjust for energy reduction.  That means no more running home to turn down your A.C., no more forgetting when to turn it down, and no more having to look up how long it needs to be adjusted.  Nest will take care of everything, leaving you more time to think about the details of your upcoming dinner party.

You might be thinking it’s strange that Google can tweak the temperature of your home at any time, and let’s face it, it is!  But Google makes it clear that its customers will receive notifications of upcoming rush hours via the Nest app and the thermostat itself.  Of course, you will always have the last say about your home’s temperature, so even if it adjusts automatically, you still have the power to override the change.

When the energy rush hour is over, your Nest will return to its normal schedule.

And the Best Part Is…

…You get compensated for your participation!

Just like any demand response program, you will either get paid per hour, one flat rate for the entire season, or see your payment bundled into the service or included in a rebate.  Keep in mind that your compensation is based on your overall energy performance.  So even if your thermostat adjusts itself, if you proceed to complete six loads of laundry and run the pool filter for the entire afternoon, you probably will not receive huge compensation.

This program is only available in certain areas right now, but I’m hoping it proves to be such a success that it begins to catch on from sea to shining sea.  To see if your utility participates in Rush Hour Rewards, click here.



Related Articles:

ComEd to Begin Residential Demand Response in 2015
The Newest Demand Response Participant: Electric Vehicles
Objections to Demand Response are Ludicrous

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