Ecobee has announced Peak Relief, a new feature that the company is piloting on its smart thermostats to help users on Time of Use rates save on energy costs by automatically focusing heating and cooling modes during times when energy rates are lower. The Peak Relief feature enhances ecobee’s existing smart thermostat algorithms to factor in electricity rates alongside other data such as comfort preferences, the energy efficiency of the home, and the local weather forecast, in order to determine when to run heating or cooling systems, optimizing running them just before peak times for the right amount of time. As ecobee notes, Peak Relief also has the side benefit of reducing demand on the power grid that can help reduce the risk of neighbourhood brownouts — one of the reasons many utility providers have implemented Time of Use rates in the first place. Peak Relief is an optional feature, and users can choose from one of two settings to choose whether to prioritize savings or home comfort, and a Peak Relief icon will appear on the ecobee thermostat display whenever the mode is engaged. Peak Relief is currently available as a pilot with select ecobee units in California and Arizona in the U.S., and the province of Ontario, Canada. To take advantage of it, users will need to be on a Time of Use rate with their current energy provider and have an electric heating or cooling system.