If you’re thinking of buying a smart thermostat for your house, don’t rush to the nearest Best Buy and pay full price—check with your electric or gas company first.
Your gas or electric company may offer smart thermostats to its customers at deep discounts, or sometimes even for free. It’s not a sham—these companies can take advantage of various government funded energy saving programs to offer energy saving tech at a discount. This not only helps you get a cool new toy, but it also does a better job of conserving energy.
For example, my electric company is currently selling some of the best smart thermostats on the market for some pretty insane prices. Here’s a glimpse:
But smart thermostats aren’t the only thing you can get from your gas or electric company. They also generally offer LED bulbs, high-quality surge protectors, and other relevant, cost-saving products—all for free or with deep discounts.
Similarly, your gas company may offer free water-related products, like shower heads and faucet aerators. Again, this is beneficial to all parties involved. It’s a win-win.
How Can They Do This?
As mentioned earlier, gas and electric companies take advantage of government funding to offer resource-saving products to customers for super low prices (or free in some cases). They work with the EFI—Energy Federation, Inc.—to set these programs up.
The EFI essentially works at the storefront for your gas or electric company, and the majority of companies partner with them for this reason. You ultimately purchase your products from the EFI (not directly from your gas or electric company). Then they ship the products to you.
Of course, this isn’t something your gas or electric company regularly advertises, and you may have to dig around on the website for a while before you can find them. If your company has a “save energy” section on their site, this is a good place to start. But if you can’t find it, you can always contact them and ask if they work with the EFI to offer discounted resource-saving products.
Read the Fine Print
While it sounds like a no-brainer to buy from EFI instead of… anywhere else, there’s one area to pay close attention. The free light bulbs, shower heads, and other small items don’t fall in this category, but when it comes to expensive items reading the fine print is key.
For items like the smart thermostats, check to see if the cost is up front (you pay 50% the retail cost, they give you the thermostat) or if it’s rebated. If the product is offered with a mail-in rebate (as some are), it may require installation by a professional for the rebate to take effect. That can be a deal breaker for some, because what you save on the on the unit itself will easily be offset by the cost of a professional.
Otherwise, if it’s just a discounted price and there isn’t any sort of rebate, you’re probably golden. Not a bad idea to read the fine print then too, but it’s a good habit to get into.
Discounted smart thermostats are a new trend in utility company energy saving packages and there’s a good chance your local utility might offer it. Even if they don’t, however, still take the time to browse through the energy saving section their website or give them a call. Many utility companies offer free energy audits where they’ll come to your home, point out places you could save/money energy, and help increase your energy savings by insulating some of your pipes, giving your some LED bulbs, and other small but effective measures—and all typically at zero cost.