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ConEd will help NYC residents connect their air conditioner to their iPhone for free

post #1 of 30
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With another sweltering summer in the offing, New York utility ConEd is once again looking to ease the load on its aging power grid by offering customers a free outlet adapter that will turn a standard window-mounted air conditioner into a WiFi-connected unit that can be controlled from an iPhone.




As part of ConEd's coolNYC program, customers can sign up to receive up to five free smartAC kits -- which normally retail for $120 each -- from New York-based ThinkEco. The smartAC plugs in between the wall outlet and a window unit, connecting the outlet to the cloud and enabling remote control using a companion iOS app.

Using the app, consumers can turn individual window units on or off at any time and adjust the temperature, even after they have left their apartment. The app also keeps track of power consumption and attempts to quantify the effect of easing off the thermostat by equating energy savings with reduced carbon dioxide emissions and gasoline consumption.

Additional cloud-based software can be used to configure each smartAC kit to operate on a schedule. The target temperature could be automatically increased five minutes after a consumer typically leaves for work, for example, and decreased a few minutes before they usually arrive home.

The program does come with one stipulation: consumers who receive the kits must agree to participate in ConEd's demand response program, which will automatically raise the target temperature of connected units when the utility believes demand will be highest, easing load on the grid. ConEd says they will notify users one day before any event -- of which they anticipate up to five throughout the summer -- and that consumers can opt out of each event individually.

As an incentive for participation, consumers will also receive a $25 gift card at the end of the summer. Interested ConEd customers in New York can sign up at www.coolnycprogram.com/signup/.
post #2 of 30

That's a "cool" idea. (sorry)

 

Good to release it on the two big platforms too -- they should probably release one for Windows Phone as well.

post #3 of 30

I think they're going to find that this is counter-productive.   It seems to me that because electricity in NYC is quite expensive (cost me $0.33 per kw/hr in 2013, so far $0.37 in 2014), most people shut off their air conditioners when they leave their home, especially individual units.   

 

If you have the ability to turn the AC on via WiFi remote before you get home or to set a maximum temperature at which point the AC will turn on automatically even if you're not home, people will use the AC more, not less.

 

And don't think it's really free.   Con Ed doesn't do anything for free.   It will be reflected in the electricity rates.

post #4 of 30
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post #5 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post
 

I think they're going to find that this is counter-productive.   It seems to me that because electricity in NYC is quite expensive (cost me $0.33 per kw/hr in 2013, so far $0.37 in 2014), most people shut off their air conditioners when they leave their home, especially individual units.   

 

If you have the ability to turn the AC on via WiFi remote before you get home or to set a maximum temperature at which point the AC will turn on automatically even if you're not home, people will use the AC more, not less.

 

If someone forgot to turn it off before they left, they could do it from wherever they are.  So that might even things out a bit.

 
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post #6 of 30

I just bought yet another AC last week and I already installed it, because I know that this summer is going to be hot as hell, it always is, and I am going to be prepared this time.

 

I might just pick up a few of these kits for free and connect my ACs to the cloud.:smokey: 

 

I don't plan on running any ACs when I'm not at home, but I just want to be able to control them from iOS devices, just for the hell of it. And if it costs nothing extra, then why the hell not?

post #7 of 30

How much will ConEd charge to DISconnect the damnable, evil, spying, Google-Nest thermostats?

post #8 of 30

If most Americans would just do 2 very simple things it would save them a ton on energy bills and also help the environment. One is simply air dry your clothes instead of using a dryer. Not only is it better on your wallet and the environment, it is also far better on your clothes. I have clothing decades old that still practically look brand new because they have never been inside a dryer. Every once in a while I will put them in dryer for just a few minutes to remove lint or pet hair but it is really noticeable how much damage dryers can do to clothes over time.

 

The second is to use a window fan at night or even better an attic fan. Even in Georgia where temperatures routinely reach well over 100 for many months, the nighttime temperature often drops to the low 70's outside. I positioned my bed next to a window and with the fan sucking out all the hot air and all other windows closed the window behind my bed pulls in a very strong and cool breeze all night long which is far better for my sleep and also health. On nights where it never drops below low 80's I also will use my central air but that is really not all that common. If you have a decent attic or window fan the breeze that it can pull in from one window over your bed is extremely strong to the point that I usually need a thick blanket not to freeze. 

 

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post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post
 

If most Americans would just do 2 very simple things it would save them a ton on energy bills and also help the environment. One is simply air dry your clothes instead of using a dryer. Not only is it better on your wallet and the environment, it is also far better on your clothes. I have clothing decades old that still practically look brand new because they have never been inside a dryer. Every once in a while I will put them in dryer for just a few minutes to remove lint or pet hair but it is really noticeable how much damage dryers can do to clothes over time.

 

The second is to use a window fan at night or even better an attic fan. Even in Georgia where temperatures routinely reach well over 100 for many months, the nighttime temperature often drops to the low 70's outside. I positioned my bed next to a window and with the fan sucking out all the hot air and all other windows closed the window behind my bed pulls in a very strong and cool breeze all night long which is far better for my sleep and also health. On nights where it never drops below low 80's I also will use my central air but that is really not all that common. If you have a decent attic or window fan the breeze that it can pull in from one window over your bed is extremely strong to the point that I usually need a thick blanket not to freeze. 

 

Both of those things are not really an option in New York for most people.

post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post

If most Americans would just do 2 very simple things it would save them a ton on energy bills and also help the environment. One is simply air dry your clothes instead of using a dryer.

The second is to use a window fan at night or even better an attic fan.

Those are good ideas. I use a ceiling fan myself. I let the AC dehumidify and drop temperatures to within comfort zone, then let the ceiling fan do the rest. This way, I can set the AC at a higher temp in the summer (say 80°F, instead of 75. My fan can't do the job alone though, but this way, my AC runs less.

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post #11 of 30
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Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post
 

 

Both of those things are not really an option in New York for most people.

 

How so? I lived in Tokyo and it was an option there and I lived in a large apartment building with a tiny balcony. Practically no one uses clothes dryers in Japan because the energy cost is so high. Unless you are saying many people don't have even a balcony. The vast majority of Americans have a yard or at least a balcony or deck to dry clothes if they wanted so I wasn't simply addressing my comments to people that live in tall concrete coffins in NYC with no balcony or windows they can open. 

 

As far as window fans, as long as you have 2 windows one for the fan and another to pull in cool air not sure what living in NY would have to do with that not working. If window and attic fans can cool a house in Georgia no reason they couldn't in New York with much milder summer temperature assuming you have 2 windows to use. 

 

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post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


Those are good ideas. I use a ceiling fan myself. I let the AC dehumidify and drop temperatures to within comfort zone, then let the ceiling fan do the rest. This way, I can set the AC at a higher temp in the summer (say 80°F, instead of 75. My fan can't do the job alone though, but this way, my AC runs less.

Yes, every room in my house has a ceiling fan. The ceiling fan can work very well in concert with the window fan or AC when it is simply too hot to save energy. That air circulation helps me keep the thermostat at 76 instead of around 71 without it. 

 

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post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post
 

How much will ConEd charge to DISconnect the damnable, evil, spying, Google-Nest thermostats?

 

You can get a Nest rider if you have a Robot Plan with Old Glory Insurance, and I'm sure you do. It'll be okay.

post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post
 

How so? I lived in Tokyo and it was an option there and I lived in a large apartment building with a tiny balcony. Practically no one uses clothes dryers in Japan because the energy cost is so high. Unless you are saying many people don't have even a balcony. The vast majority of Americans have a yard or at least a balcony or deck to dry clothes if they wanted so I wasn't simply addressing my comments to people that live in tall concrete coffins in NYC with no balcony or windows they can open. 

 

As far as window fans, as long as you have 2 windows one for the fan and another to pull in cool air not sure what living in NY would have to do with that not working. If window and attic fans can cool a house in Georgia no reason they couldn't in New York with much milder summer temperature assuming you have 2 windows to use. 

 

I'd say that many do not even have any balconies or terrace in NYC. Most people do not even have any laundry machines in their building, and they have to walk a block or two to a neighborhood laundromat, and the people will wash and dry their clothes there.

 

As for fans, I do have fans, but it's not good enough on those days and nights where it's really hot. It doesn't get much cooler at night at all, and I would say that somebody is not even going to be able to sleep without having an AC on in NYC. That's why I just bought an additional AC recently, because I remembered last year when I would turn the fan on, it would just be blowing 100+ degree air on my face. The fan practically made no difference at all.

 

You suggestions are not bad for people who might live elsewhere, but I was just pointing out that they aren't that realistic for most people in NYC. Summers here are really hot as hell and crazy humid, and the fact that it's a huge city only makes it even worse.

post #15 of 30

Pretty much all apartments in Japan have balconies or terraces. I think the trend in NYC seems to be also moving more towards that as well recently. No matter how large your apartment may be, if you can't go outside onto a terrace you feel a bit claustrophobic. At least I do. My cousin moved to NYC a year ago for work  and he made sure he found a condo in Manhattan with a terrace. I understand what you mean about fans being useless on nights where the outside temperature is warmer than around low 80's  because at that temp a window fan won't do much to keep you cool. It will prevent sweating but not very pleasant since too warm so I also use my AC on those nights also. Just a guess but I would say around 90 nights of the year I need to use AC to sleep. Also the fact that my windows have grass and trees and a lake just outside instead of heat absorbing concrete means cooler nights than someone in an apartment building surrounded by concrete and asphalt. 

 

I can't imagine walking blocks to do my laundry then have to sit there while to wait for it to wash and then dry. I am surprised more apartments there do not have a hook up for a washer inside. As much laundry as I do that would be an extreme inconvenience. Tokyo is a much larger city than NYC with an even bigger premium on space and they all have their own washing machines inside nearly all apartments. In Japan, even tiny apartments less than 350 square feet will usually have around a 6 foot by 4 foot wide balcony where you put your washing machine and if no balcony then a small closet space in or near bathroom for your washing machine.  As I mentioned before dryers are almost unheard of so you dry clothes on a line on balcony. What is the reason apartments in NYC don't have washer hookups inside? All it needs is a connection to the drain just like a shower or toilet. 

 

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post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post
 

What is the reason apartments in NYC don't have washer hookups inside? 

 

It really depends on the type of building that somebody lives in and what kind of apartment they have.

 

Of course if somebody lives in a newer large condo building, then they should be all set. They're obviously paying a real nice price for such an apartment too.

 

There are many older buildings, and I'd guess that there simply isn't much space. It's not common for any regular rental apartment to include any washing machine.

post #17 of 30

As is obvious by its appearance, this is a very crude approach to temperature control which operates by causing power outages to the air conditioner. This may not work at all if the A/C has electronic controls of the type which reset to default values when a power outage occurs. And, with all such devices, one needs to be suspicious of how much security development went into its design and engineering.

post #18 of 30
I participated last summer and these things are AWESOME. Basically as soon as I leave work I log into the app, and turn on the AC, and when I get home apt finally starts to cool down. Or if I ever forget to turn off the AC I can log in and shut it off.

The other bonus is that I get a cost reading, I see exactly how much I'm paying for the AC to run.
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post
 

 

I'd say that many do not even have any balconies or terrace in NYC. Most people do not even have any laundry machines in their building, and they have to walk a block or two to a neighborhood laundromat, and the people will wash and dry their clothes there.

 

As for fans, I do have fans, but it's not good enough on those days and nights where it's really hot. It doesn't get much cooler at night at all, and I would say that somebody is not even going to be able to sleep without having an AC on in NYC. That's why I just bought an additional AC recently, because I remembered last year when I would turn the fan on, it would just be blowing 100+ degree air on my face. The fan practically made no difference at all.

 

You suggestions are not bad for people who might live elsewhere, but I was just pointing out that they aren't that realistic for most people in NYC. Summers here are really hot as hell and crazy humid, and the fact that it's a huge city only makes it even worse.

For those with a bathtub there's always the folding laundry rack* my mom had for ours (machines were in the basement so not that far a distance and if it were there was always the folding two wheeled grocery bag cart I expect, back when every in-store cart had little S-hooks to hang the folding one off of.)... I still dry my shirts by hanging them off the shower curtain rod to avoid beating them up in a dryer.

 

* Bunch of different models at Amazon for instance. The same for folding grocery carts.

post #20 of 30

I agree with Apple ][: most people don't understand life in an old (old by North American standards anyways), high population density city with high humidity.  There just isn't enough space for everyone to have a bunch of large appliances like laundry machines in old buildings (because they were designed in an era where such appliances didn't exist).  Heck, there isn't even the infrastructure (high capacity water lines and hot water tanks).

 

Toronto is similar in a lot of ways -- though we generally have a bit more space here than the average person in NYC, so clothes-lines are possible.  However, when the humidity is high, you could leave your clothes out for days and they'd never fully dry.  And yeah, on hot, humid nights, a fan just feels like a hot hair dryer blowing on you.  Thankfully I live in a house with a basement, so I can pull cooler air up from the basement to help.  But people living in apartment buildings/condos (majority of people) don't have that option.


Edited by auxio - 6/24/14 at 2:47pm
 
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post #21 of 30
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Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Both of those things are not really an option in New York for most people.

He probably has nice grassy fields right outside his window or nearby whereas we have heat retaining concrete and asphalt outside of ours.
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post #22 of 30

Grassy fields?

 

Sort of funny how millions of people dried their clothes for a couple of hundred years in NYC before dryers were ever invented.... I doubt there's a roof on any apartment building built before WWII that doesn't have the remnants of laundry lines on it (and in many cases crossing alleys to the adjacent buildings). That asphalt would be terrific radiant heater to dry clothing, the only worry would be the pigeons. lol

post #23 of 30

yeah, was thinking along the same lines.... TANSTAAFL...

post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post
 

 

 

I can't imagine walking blocks to do my laundry then have to sit there while to wait for it to wash and then dry. I am surprised more apartments there do not have a hook up for a washer inside. As much laundry as I do that would be an extreme inconvenience. As I mentioned before dryers are almost unheard of so you dry clothes on a line on balcony. What is the reason apartments in NYC don't have washer hookups inside? 

Depends upon the size of the building and there are variations depending upon the age of the building.   Some buildings have laundry rooms, as mine does.   It's a 200-unit building and has three rooms.   I like that setup because you can do multiple loads at once.    I've seen a few buildings that have a single washer and dryer on each floor, to be shared by everyone on the floor.   And buildings with larger apartments sometimes have a laundry room within each apartment.     Some smaller older buildings either don't have enough of a water supply or enough electricity to support washers and dryers in each apartment or they simply don't have the physical room.    When I lived in a brownstone, the half-floor apartment we had had the kitchen built into a former closet.   The refrigerator was actually in the dining area next to the entrance door.   There was no way any washer/dryer was fitting in there and the owner didn't supply any in the basement either, so that was a case where we used the local laundromat.   There's also plenty of private homes, especially in the other boroughs of NYC and most people do have their own washer/dryer. 

 

If you go to some working-class neighborhoods, you still occasionally see people drying clothes in the open air, but it's relatively rare because the air is too dirty, someone might steal the clothes and because it's simply unnecessary - a laundromat is a much better option and most let you leave the clothes and they'll clean/dry them for you.

 

When I was a kid living in the Bronx, NY, there were these large metal and rope trees in back of the building that were used for drying laundry.   If you see old photos or movies of NYC, you'll see a lot of tenement buildings with laundry lines in the back between buildings.   

 

Since most apartment buildings in New York are now either co-ops or condos, most Boards have rules against drying laundry on the terrace.   

post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post

If most Americans would just do 2 very simple things it would save them a ton on energy bills and also help the environment. One is simply air dry your clothes instead of using a dryer. Not only is it better on your wallet and the environment, it is also far better on your clothes. I have clothing decades old that still practically look brand new because they have never been inside a dryer. Every once in a while I will put them in dryer for just a few minutes to remove lint or pet hair but it is really noticeable how much damage dryers can do to clothes over time.

The second is to use a window fan at night or even better an attic fan. Even in Georgia where temperatures routinely reach well over 100 for many months, the nighttime temperature often drops to the low 70's outside. I positioned my bed next to a window and with the fan sucking out all the hot air and all other windows closed the window behind my bed pulls in a very strong and cool breeze all night long which is far better for my sleep and also health. On nights where it never drops below low 80's I also will use my central air but that is really not all that common. If you have a decent attic or window fan the breeze that it can pull in from one window over your bed is extremely strong to the point that I usually need a thick blanket not to freeze. 

Good advice. I only use a dryer for towels to keep them fluffy.
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post #26 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post
 

If most Americans would just do 2 very simple things it would save them a ton on energy bills and also help the environment. One is simply air dry your clothes instead of using a dryer. Not only is it better on your wallet and the environment, it is also far better on your clothes. I have clothing decades old that still practically look brand new because they have never been inside a dryer. Every once in a while I will put them in dryer for just a few minutes to remove lint or pet hair but it is really noticeable how much damage dryers can do to clothes over time.

 

The second is to use a window fan at night or even better an attic fan. Even in Georgia where temperatures routinely reach well over 100 for many months, the nighttime temperature often drops to the low 70's outside. I positioned my bed next to a window and with the fan sucking out all the hot air and all other windows closed the window behind my bed pulls in a very strong and cool breeze all night long which is far better for my sleep and also health. On nights where it never drops below low 80's I also will use my central air but that is really not all that common. If you have a decent attic or window fan the breeze that it can pull in from one window over your bed is extremely strong to the point that I usually need a thick blanket not to freeze. 

There are many ways to save energy and no one specific right way.   What counts is what a person's total carbon footprint is, not whether they use a dryer or not.   If I didn't use a dryer, clothes would take at least two days to dry and that assumes I would have a place to dry them, which I don't. But on the other hand, I have a small carbon footprint because I live in a relatively small apartment and don't drive very often and I absolutely never have the AC on when I'm not home and not all that often when I am home, because I can't stand the noise.   

 

And I don't know why you're addressing this to "Americans" when it applies to virtually everyone in the western world.   

post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post
 

If most Americans would just do 2 very simple things it would save them a ton on energy bills 

 

But how can I save a bundle on auto insurance?

 

Let me guess... by using this "one weird trick"...

post #28 of 30

I realize that you're referring to web b.s., but for years, I watched GEICO ads on TV where they claimed to save you "up to 15% or more" and figured they wouldn't save me much of anything.   But after my last insurance increase (which should have been a decrease, since I have no claims and the car is worth less each year), I called GEICO and it cut my insurance bill in half for slightly more coverage!   So you never know.   On the other hand, when I then priced home insurance with GEICO, it was basically the same as what I was already paying.

post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post
 

There are many ways to save energy and no one specific right way.   What counts is what a person's total carbon footprint is, not whether they use a dryer or not.   If I didn't use a dryer, clothes would take at least two days to dry and that assumes I would have a place to dry them, which I don't. But on the other hand, I have a small carbon footprint because I live in a relatively small apartment and don't drive very often and I absolutely never have the AC on when I'm not home and not all that often when I am home, because I can't stand the noise.   

 

Agreed.  By planning a city such that just about everything is within walking distance, you eliminate a huge part of the carbon footprint.  Plus it has heath benefits too.  Also, by having a smaller living space, you require a fraction of the heating/cooling that a large house would.  No yard maintenance either.  I'd be willing to bet that the carbon footprint of the average New Yorker is far smaller than most places in the developed world.

 
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post #30 of 30
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Originally Posted by auxio View Post

Agreed.  By planning a city such that just about everything is within walking distance, you eliminate a huge part of the carbon footprint.  Plus it has heath benefits too.  Also, by having a smaller living space, you require a fraction of the heating/cooling that a large house would.  No yard maintenance either.  I'd be willing to bet that the carbon footprint of the average New Yorker is far smaller than most places in the developed world.

The planning happened more than a century ago. People didn't have many transportation options. The living spaces are smaller because people were smaller, as was furniture.
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