Comcast has joined forces with Illinois utility Commonwealth Edison to offer its customers participation in the Xfinity Home’s Summer Energy Management program.
The program is similar to other bring-your-own-thermostat (BYOT) programs, in which customers are incentivized to have their thermostats automatically adjusted during the hottest days of summer to save energy.
Along with Comcast, ComEd is also working with Nest Labs’ Rush Hour Rewards. The first 10,000 customers from either company who sign up by the end of May will receive up to $40 for enrolling. Comcast Xfinity home customers who enroll and do not already have a smart thermostat will receive one for free.
“We’re excited to work with ComEd on their demand response initiative,” Dan Herscovici, SVP and GM of Xfinity Home for Comcast Cable, said in a statement. “Helping customers save energy and lower the cost of their air conditioning and heating bills is one of our goals.”
Between June and September, ComEd may call up to 10 demand response events.
EcoFactor is the underlying technology platform that runs the Ecosaver option for Comcast’s Xfinity Home thermostats. Unlike some other thermostat platforms that adjust the thermostat to precool the home, EcoFactor makes various microadjustments to the thermostat all the time to keep the temperature steady while still meeting the energy reduction needs of the demand response event.
The move by Comcast to jump into the BYOT game is not surprising; last summer, EcoFactor told Greentech Media’s Stephen Lacey that consumers could expect to see “a lot more” from Comcast in the area of home energy management. BYOT programs are increasingly popular with utilities that are looking to pluck some easy savings from hardware that they don’t have to manage or install.
"The smart thermostat market is highly competitive, so it’s interesting to see Comcast beat out other competitors and join Nest in ComEd’s program," said Omar Saadeh, senior analyst with GTM Research. "While utilities may see the broadband and security service shift to home energy management as potentially competitive, there are also opportunities for collaboration. Some of the additional home services that Comcast’s Xfinity brings to the table may have tipped the scales in their favor." Saadeh's recent report, Energy in the Connected Home 2015, identified more than 120 players vying for a share of the burgeoning home energy management market.
Comcast’s most significant move further into energy services so far has been its partnership with NRG to launch an electricity bundle that brings together retail energy services and a cable package in Pennsylvania. EcoFactor works directly with other utilities, such as NV Energy, to deliver residential demand response. In an interesting twist that could portend future synergies, NRG Energy is also an investor in EcoFactor.
When asked about other potential utility partners, Comcast responded that it is evaluating other opportunities, but would not comment further.