Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Smart Home Study?

Smart Home Study is a research program designed by the Smart Home Consortium, made up of companies currently focused on improving energy usage throughout California. These companies include: Alternative Energy Systems Consulting (AESC), Oxygen Initiative, Center for Sustainable Energy®, and Itron, Inc. This program is funded by the California Energy Commission through a grant awarded to AESC, and given authorization from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) to perform their research in the utility’s electric service territory.

What is the goal of the Smart Home Study?

The goal of the Smart Home Study is to explore the potential use of currently available advanced home-based technology relative to dynamic pricing rate structures. More specifically, the study will evaluate customer responsiveness to specific price signal changes after being presented with tools that potentially can optimize their savings while maintaining their comfort and lifestyle.

Who is eligible to participate in the Smart Home Study?

Participation in the Smart Home Study is limited to 100 homeowners who are customers of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) with active residential electric service accounts. Each participant must have a functioning central air conditioner in their home (mini-split AC systems are ineligible), Wi-Fi Internet service, must have an EV (owned or leased) and/or PV system (owned or leased), and give study evaluators permission to view previous billing history (Green Button data). To be eligible, the homeowners must not be active participants in an SDG&E demand response program other than RYU (Reduce Your Use).

If I am selected to participate, what am I required to do?

Participation is completely voluntary. Other than accepting the technology you’ll be given and switching to a new TOU rate (if you choose), you will have no further obligations until the end of the study when you will be asked to answer survey questions sharing your experience. During the study period, you will be required to leave all equipment operational and, if applicable, connected to your broadband internet.

The goal, however, is for you to respond, with active support through automatic engagement, to specific price signal changes when electric retail rates are more expensive, either by shifting discretionary use to lower cost hours or, if available to you, implementing battery power stored during lower cost hours.

How will I benefit by participating in the Smart Home Study?

As one of only 100 participants, you will be among a select group chosen who will provide valuable lessons regarding the use of home-based technology and dynamic rate pricing structures.

All participants will receive a free Honeywell Wi-Fi web-programmable thermostat, with free installation.

Participants who own or lease a plug-in electric vehicle (EV) for daily use, registered at the address corresponding to their SDG&E account, and who have paid the current vehicle registration fees in the State of California, may qualify to receive a free AeroVironment (AV) TurboDX Level 2 charging station, with free installation.

Participants whose homes are equipped with a solar photovoltaic (PV) system that they own or lease, which is connected to the grid, may be eligible to receive a free stationary Sonnen energy storage system (i.e., a compact solar battery), with free installation.

All added technology will be the property of the consortium until the end of the study, at which time ownership of the technology will transfer to the participants. Should participants discontinue their participation prior to the end of the study, the consortium, at its discretion, may require removal of the technology.

All participants will receive $100* at the conclusion of the study after completing and returning a final survey questionnaire.

Those participants receiving only the Wi-Fi web-programmable thermostat will receive $150* after installation.

Participants may also achieve monthly bill savings, depending on how they respond to hourly electric retail price changes.

Participants who switch to a Smart Home Study TOU rate will receive Bill Protection for the 12-18 month duration of the study. That means they will pay no more than they would have were they to be on their original rate plan. For participants who pay more during the study, they will receive settlement of the difference at the end of the study. Any savings achieved by participants is theirs to keep.

All participants will receive a certificate of participation recognizing their assistance with this important study.

What rates will I be assigned and how will I know if I can save money?

Participants will be asked to switch their billing rate to an assigned time-of-use rate, as follows. Participants may choose to stay on their current rate; however, control factors will largely be based off of these TOU periods.


Initial analysis will be done to assess potential savings. Participants will then receive ongoing analysis and savings advice throughout the length of the study.

When the study concludes, what rate will I be on?

At the conclusion of the study, participants will be able to select their billing rate from those then currently available from SDG&E. Note: Participants who did not change their rate will not receive bill protection during the study. NEM rate holders, currently grandfathered in a tiered or older rate, who choose to change their rate should be advised they will not be eligible for those NEM rates at the conclusion of the study.

How long does the Smart Home Study run?

The Smart Home Study runs through December 1, 2019. At that time, you’ll be asked to complete a survey questionnaire, for which you’ll receive $100 upon submission. Equipment ownership will then transfer to you.

Will I be able to reduce my electric costs as a participant in the Smart Home Study?

Participants in the Smart Home Study will be billed under a time-of-use rate, if they choose to change rates. That means during the summer (June through October), during specified weekdays, certain designated hours (generally between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.) will have higher user rates than other hours. Hours outside this “peak period” will generally be billed at rates lower than your current rate structure.

If you’re able to reduce your energy use from the grid during those higher cost hours, either shifting discretionary use to other hours or implementing battery storage power, you should be able to achieve bill savings. You will be aided in achieving bill savings with automatic controls implemented through your installed technology.

Are there any other technologies I can select to help me save on energy use?

Participants in the Smart Home Study with single-speed pool pumps may be eligible for additional technology supporting cost savings.

Will I be in control of the technology once it’s been installed?

Participants will have control of their technology. However, the consortium will assume control during times that are advantageous to the participant, taking into account customer preferences obtained during the enrollment process. Participants will always maintain the ability to override consortium control.

Please note: During the study, the consortium may engage the technology three (3) times for two (2) weeks at a time for testing. Participants may experience a small increase in cost during these test periods; however, participants who are price-protected will recoup any loss when the study ends.

What if I experience problems with the technology I am given?

Upon installation, you will need to have a responsible adult present who can receive instructions on your new equipment and ask any needed questions. After installation, for any non-program-specific, product-related questions or concerns, you will need to contact the manufacturer regarding the operation of the technology. A user manual with manufacturer contact information will be provided at the time of installation.

What happens to the technology after the pilot is complete?

During the study, the technology will be the property of the consortium. The consortium will assist participants through the technology by optimizing energy use and cost savings. At the conclusion of the study, participants will assume ownership of the technology and consortium-assisted optimized savings will end.

What if I have questions or experience problems I believe are related to the study?

If you have any questions about the study, feel free to reach out to us. You can call 855-434-7161 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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