New pro­gram of­fers smart ther­mostats — free

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - AL­LI­SON JONES TORONTO

— El­i­gi­ble On­tario house­holds will be able to get smart ther­mostats for free on a first-come, first-serve ba­sis un­der a new gov­ern­ment pro­gram.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Chris Bal­lard an­nounced Wed­nes­day that $377 mil­lion in pro­ceeds from On­tario’s cap-and-trade auc­tions this year will be used to es­tab­lish a Green On­tario Fund. That not-for-profit pro­vin­cial agency will over­see pro­grams and re­bates for homes and busi­nesses to re­duce en­ergy costs.

Part of that will be the GreenON In­stal­la­tions pro­gram, un­der which el­i­gi­ble house­holds can reg­is­ter to have a tech­ni­cian visit and in­stall a smart ther­mo­stat at no cost. There will be 100,000 smart ther­mostats avail­able un­der the pro­gram to peo­ple who reg­is­ter through the Green On­tario Fund web­site.

Bal­lard es­ti­mated the smart ther­mostats and in­stal­la­tions will use about $40 mil­lion from the green fund, and said the gov­ern­ment will be an­nounc­ing more pro­grams funded by it in the fu­ture.

Smart ther­mostats are con­nected to the in­ter­net, ad­just them­selves au­to­mat­i­cally and can be pro­grammed and ad­justed through smart­phones.

Bal­lard said he has had one for years and it comes in handy — es­pe­cially for par­ents.

“My kids would come home on a hot, sweaty spring day — and you’ll note there are more and more hot, sweaty spring days — and I’d be at work and they’d im­me­di­ately crank up the air con­di­tion­ing and I would get a no­ti­fi­ca­tion on my smart­phone about some ac­tiv­ity go­ing on, and I would qui­etly dial back down the air con­di­tion­ing,” he said.

Own­ers and renters of de­tached and semi-de­tached homes, town­houses and row houses can qual­ify for the free smart ther­mostats, though renters must have their land­lords’ per­mis­sion. Reg­is­tra­tion opened Wed­nes­day, with in­stal­la­tions start­ing in the fall.

Representatives from a num­ber of smart ther­mo­stat com­pa­nies were on hand for Wed­nes­day’s an­nounce­ment. Par­min­der Sandhu, the chair of the Green On­tario Fund board of direc­tors, said the pro­cure­ment process is still on­go­ing, but the in­ten­tion is to al­low con­sumers to choose which smart ther­mo­stat they would like to have in­stalled.

En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fence ap­plauded the an­nounce­ment, call­ing the smart ther­mo­stat of­fer a “goody” to en­tice On­tar­i­ans into a deeper con­ver­sa­tion about en­ergy use.

“They can have a big im­pact,” the or­ga­ni­za­tion said in a state­ment.

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