(Image credit: Ameren Illinois video)

Since 2018, an Illinois utility has provided free smart thermostats to about 11,000 low- and middle-income customers.

The internet-connected devices learn people’s preferences and routines and automatically adjust. For example, some smart thermostats sense when a house is empty and turn down the heat.

“We think the average customer can save up to 10% on their energy costs per year by installing and using a smart thermostat,” says Kristol Simms of Ameren Illinois.

She says lower energy bills can have a big impact on people’s lives.

“There are lots of people who make really tough decisions about car repairs versus paying their utility bill,” she says.

But the upfront cost of these high-tech thermostats can be prohibitive.

“There is sort of a technology gap when it comes to low- and moderate-income customers. Oftentimes they are less able to take advantage of new or advancing technologies,” Simms says. “And this is a technology that we think can be critical to these customers being able to save money and be comfortable in their home.”

So she says the free smart thermostats help ensure that energy and cost savings reach those who need them most.

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.