Idaho Power, which serves a part of eastern Oregon for about 5 percent of its total customer base, has asked Oregon utility regulators to allow it to offer incentives for customers who install “smart thermostats” as part of the utility’s energy efficiency offerings for those customers. In its request to the Oregon PUC, Idaho Power said, “The Company anticipates this new offering will be available to customers in both the Oregon and Idaho jurisdictions on March 31, 2016.”

“The objective of the existing program is to acquire energy savings by offering cash incentives to residential customers in order to motivate them to purchase alternate forms of residential heating and cooling equipment and services that save energy,” Idaho Power said in its Jan. 20 filing with Oregon regulators. The company said adding smart thermostats to its existing heating and cooling efficiency program “will broaden the number of energy efficiency offerings for Oregon customers.” If granted, participants in the thermostat program would be eligible for a $75 incentive for installing a smart thermostat, with a limit of one per home. Homes must have electric forced air heat with or without central air conditioning, or a ducted heat pump. Homes must be existing family, but can be a primary residence, vacation home, or rental.

Idaho Power said the magnitude of electricity savings from this program is so far uncertain. However, its calculations that are required to demonstrate whether the incentive program is cost-effective describe a 10-year life span for the new smart thermostat, the $75 incentive payment to customers, and a minimum electricity savings of 354 annual kilowatt-hours. Idaho Power also said other evaluations of the devices show they can save between 5 percent and 15 percent of heating use, or about 750-1,000 kilowatt-hours per year.

Smart thermostats enable users to more precisely set and operate the devices that control heating and air conditioning, including wirelessly by remote such as by smart phones, tablets and laptops. Many can generate monthly consumption reports and can adjust themselves for such conditions as changes in weather or humidity. They typically cost between $150-$300, the company said.