ecobee Citizen

How ecobee and Generac Help Keep Your Home Powered During Extreme Weather

With extreme weather on the rise, here’s what ecobee and parent company Generac are doing to help.

by ecobee on 09/07/2023 in Smart Home & Tech

5 min read

A home with a Generac generator outside.

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This past summer, heat domes took over Texas, trapping hot air from the ocean that can’t rise, and causing 100°F+ outdoor temperatures. More people cranked up their air conditioning, resulting in more power outages as the grid became overloaded.

“Texas set a new peak demand record of 83,000 megawatts in one day, which is the equivalent of using over 1.6 million propane cylinders for home barbeques,” said Stuart Dobson, a senior customer success manager on ecobee’s energy team.

Stuart Dobson, senior customer success manager on ecobee’s energy team.

According to Dobson, Texas has a lot of old aging power plants—some are failing and going offline which compounds the issue. The state is trying to rely more heavily on renewable sources of energy, such as solar during the day when it’s sunny, and wind at night when it's breezy. However, this is not enough to prevent the loss of power during peak demand periods in the summer.

Challenges from heat waves or cold snaps cause stress on the grid, which can lead to outages. Moreover, the rise in working from home means residential customers rely on a constant source of power.

Here’s where ecobee steps in with Community Energy Savings, a feature that allows utilities to use our thermostats to help strengthen the electrical grid. Customers are rewarded for participating in a handful of demand response events per year, where their temperature is slightly offset by a customizable number of degrees for up to a few hours, to help reduce this high demand.

Due to Texas’s isolated grid, the state is unable to purchase energy from neighboring states in times of crisis, and is increasingly on Community Energy Savings to shift energy and curtail the peak.

“Throughout Texas, over 66,000 ecobee customers voluntarily participated in various demand response programs over the span of a couple weeks in July, saving about 79 megawatts at peak times, and, more importantly, helping communities keep the lights on and AC humming,” said Dobson.

We get power outages monthly, and many residents in our neighborhood rely on these generators to keep their houses powered on.

- Jonny Lobosco, technical support specialist at ecobee

Experience uninterrupted power with Generac generators

While ecobee is taking measures to help prevent blackouts and brownouts, Generac, ecobee’s parent company, provides standby generators if an outage does happen.

“When the power goes out, and the grid goes down, within seconds Generac’s home standby generator will resume power in your home as if nothing happened,” said Jess Bland, a senior product manager on Generac’s connectivity team.

Homeowners can choose to install a whole-home standby generator or to power specific parts of their home, and a dealer will set it up for them. These generators are powered by fuel and connected to either a fuel tank, which requires periodic refilling or a natural gas line.

Dealers are also encouraged to enroll connected generators into Generac’s web-based portal called Fleet. The Fleet software communicates to dealers regarding the condition of connected generators, providing the dealer with information to help service the generator before even getting to the customer’s house.

Generac generators play their role in supporting ecobee employees as well. During a huge July thunderstorm in Fort Erie, ON, the power went out in Jonny Lobosco's neighborhood for over an hour. Thanks to his Generac generator, LoBosco, a technical support specialist on ecobee's support team, could continue helping customers during the outage.

“I love how low maintenance it is,” said LoBosco, noting that the generator powered on within seconds and turned off when the power was restored. “We get power outages monthly, and many residents in our neighborhood rely on these generators to keep their houses powered on.”

Every Wednesday the generator automatically does its own safety check to make sure everything's working. “In the six years we’ve had this, I’ve only needed to call a dealer one time to fix an issue, and he came out as soon as possible to resolve the problem while educating us on how to prevent it from happening again,” said LoBosco.

Simplify your life with the Mobile Link Integration

Generac home standby generators have proven to be exceptional in helping to ensure your household is prepared in the event of an outage. An exciting new addition is the ability to monitor your generator status directly from your home's thermostat, conveniently located in the center of your home. Earlier this year, ecobee and Generac launched an integration that allows all compatible ecobee thermostat owners to monitor their Generac home standby generator status directly from their ecobee thermostat.

“I can check the status on my phone on the Mobile Link app, or go to my backyard, look at the lights on the side of the generator, open it up with a key, and try to find the screen to see what’s happening, but seeing it every time I glance at my thermostat ensures it’s always top of mind,” said LoBosco.

Home is our sanctuary.

The climb in heatwaves across North America is placing significant strain on the power grid and, more importantly, on people. Thanks to Community Energy Savings, ecobee is helping alleviate pressure on the grid, keeping the lights on and AC humming, while Generac's generators can help us stay comfortable when power outages are unavoidable. Making the generator status available on the ecobee smart thermostat, which is at the center of the home and accessible to all, shows how Generac and ecobee are working together to build a complete home energy ecosystem. Home is our sanctuary, and we need to make sure there is always power there.

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