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Our first Rush Hour Rewards results.

Rush Hour Rewards

Rush Hour Rewards is working.

On June 27th in Austin, Texas, Nest thermostats running Rush Hour Rewards cut AC runtime during the hottest part of the day by 56%, on average.

We thoroughly tested Rush Hour Rewards, of course. We knew it would work.

But knowing and seeing it in action with actual customers was very different. Rush Hour Rewards is a service Nest offers in partnership with energy companies across the country. Nest thermostats help lower energy demand on very hot summer days while keeping homeowners comfortable, and the energy company thanks Nest owners for participating with cash back.

Here’s a new video about how it works:

So here’s what happened: In June, temperatures in Texas spiked to over 100°F. People started cranking up their air conditioning and one of our energy partners, Austin Energy, saw an energy rush hour looming—too much energy demand, not enough to go around.

Austin Energy got in touch with Nest and a couple thousand Nest Learning Thermostats started thinking: each thermostat calculated the best way to shift energy and keep their individual home comfortable. The algorithm for every home was unique, based on that family’s schedule, the temperatures they liked, if they were home or away, and how drafty their house was.

The results were impressive: for two hours that afternoon, as outside temperatures soared to 102°F, AC runtime was cut in half. That’s compared to how much energy we calculate people would have used that afternoon, based on their schedules and the weather.

Nest pre-cooled many of the homes before the rush hour, then let temperatures drift up less than 1.6°F on average. The result? Almost everyone stuck with it—only 10% of people adjusted the temperature at all during the rush hour.

The next day? It happened again.

Temperatures climbed even higher and there was another energy rush hour. This time it was 106°F outside and Rush Hour Rewards cut AC use by an average of 49% during the rush hour. Only 12% of Nesters adjusted the temperatures Nest set.

With summer heating up, Rush Hour Rewards is turning on all over the country, not just in Austin. Across the board, the results have been amazing—runtimes are sliced neatly in half, customers stay cool.

It’s been everything we’ve worked for. But the real test, of course, is our customers. Do Nesters like it? Are they happy with the rewards they get from their energy company—Austin Energy customers got an $85 check for participating this summer. What do customers think?

A Nest Rush Hour Rewards customer

What’s even more amazing is that we just launched Rush Hour Rewards at the end of April. This was the first month when it was hot enough to try it. As more and more people sign up and more energy companies partner with us, what we could achieve is staggering.

So join us. If your energy company has already partnered with Nest? You can sign up here for Rush Hour Rewards. Want your energy company to offer Rush Hour Rewards? Let them know.

Want even more details? Here’s a closer look at what happened:

Some of the Nest thermostats in Austin started pre-cooling at 2:45pm on June 27th. Pre-cooling means dropping the target temperature a degree or two before the rush hour. Each Nest thermostat figures out if pre-cooling is necessary for the home it’s in. If you start the rush hour at a colder temperature, using less AC during the rush hour doesn’t make the house too hot.

graph showing pre-cooling usage

At 3:45pm, the rush hour began. You can see how much air conditioners ran in reality (blue), and how much they would have run if Rush Hour Rewards hadn’t turned on (gray shading). The difference is huge—AC runtimes dropped by an average of 56%.

graph showing Rush Hour usage

After the rush hour was over, all Nest thermostats returned to their normal schedules. Homes were cool, customers were happy, disaster was averted.

We can’t wait to see what happens in August.