Too Good to Be True?
I don’t know if scientists have a name for it, yet, but I think you’ll know what I mean. I call it, “Too Many Emails to be True.” Much like the phrase I re-branded, it roughly means “after a certain number of emails hit my inbox from you, then you have to be selling me something I don’t want.” For the visually inclined, here is what I am thinking:
A great example of what I’m talking about is the emails we receive from our utility. I am sure you know the look of this:
So I know, based on this number of emails, that RG&E is offering a trick or a trap of some kind. We’ve all seen certain things enough times to know. My suspicions were confirmed when mentioning these to someone, and they said, “Oh, yeah, they can take control of your system for the few bucks you save on the thermostat.”
That sounds like exactly the type of “Too Many Emails to be True” fine print that I was talking about. So I mentally flagged the sender, “Super Scam!” and moved on with my life. Suspicions confirmed!
Except I’m a curious person. I have been learning a lot about confirmation bias lately, and as those emails kept smashing my inbox, I started to develop a nagging feeling that maybe I was stuck in a trap of my own construction. So after several online chats, three phone calls, and roughly an hour on hold (remember, we’re talking about utilities here!), I am amazed to say that this is not a “Too Many Emails to be True!” situation. There’s real value here.
There are two types of programs you can take advantage of from the “Your Energy Savings Store”:
- Discounted Items from their online store
This is an extremely simple program. If you buy from their site, as long as you agree to install it in your home as a customer of RG&E (along with the usual terms & conditions), you save money on the cost of the thermostat.
As of 2/17/2020, here are the Energy Savings Store Prices compared to other locations:
|Energy Savings Store||Big Box or Online|
|ecobee 3 Lite||$94||$169|
So these are real savings. I spoke with a few different people over there to try and find a catch, but as of now I can’t find one. I will be taking advantage of this offer for my home as well! So if I am able to expose additional conditions through my own use I will update this.
2. Savings Programs
The next program is the Smart Savings Rewards program. This is the one that sounds really scary: You get a $45 dollar gift card to Amazon, but the utility gets control of your thermostat! That didn’t sound very appealing to me, but I clicked around and spoke to a few more people.
Here’s what they ask you at the entry page:
When I see this landing page, it makes me think that I’m about to be taken advantage of. Except, in this very rare case, I find the fine print to be helpful, not hurtful. So you get the $45 off, and they get control of your system. But here are the conditions:
-If you don’t want them to adjust the temperature when they’ve done so, just put the thermostat back where you wanted it, no problem. Your thermostat is yours again.
-If you do allow them to complete the adjustment during that peak usage, and don’t change your thermostat, then you receive a $5 bill credit. And you receive that credit each time you allow the system to work. (Candidly, this seemed like a trap and I had to speak with 3 different people before I believed it to be true).
So, in essence, if you are willing to raise your temperature in your house a few degrees for a little while, possibly while you’re out of the house at work anyways, you get to reduce energy consumption, and save money. And that’s on top of the $45 gift card. That seems like a really good deal to me. Again, I’ll be registering my thermostat into the program (although with people working from home often, I’m not sure how often we’ll receive the $5 credit).
I did ask everyone I spoke with about history of the program, how often each summer a typical participant will have their thermostat adjusted etc, and they weren’t willing or able to share that information. But I can at least share my experiences once I have it up and running in my home.
So, for what it’s worth, this skeptic is now a willing believer in the program. And their threshold to convince me seemed virtually insurmountable, because I stepped into this process enthusiastic to expose the tricks and flaws of the program. So we will see where it takes me, but I’m headed over to their site shortly to get a discounted thermostat and then tie into my home’s HVAC system. It may be a good choice for you, too.
Debating the best smart thermostat? You can check on over here for our 2 cents.
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The Energy Savings Store Link:
[Cover Image Heavily Manipulated from Original Tobacco Ad accumulalted by Stanford University Research into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising.]