Free 'Smart AC' kits keep your pets cool more efficiently

We're officially in the muggy and sweaty dog days of summer. And Con Edison wants to make keeping your dogs and cats comfortable inside while you're at work or away easier.

Con Ed's Smart AC program provides a modlet that users plug into their window or wall AC unit. It works with a corresponding app that allows users to control units remotely. The Smart AC kit is free.

Rachel Fishbein uses the program to make sure it is cool and comfortable for her dog Lily, particularly when the family is away and Lily is getting dropped off at the apartment by a dog sitter before they get home. The app lets Fishbein turn on air conditioning so that Lily doesn't come to a sweltering home but doesn't have to keep the unit running all week, wasting energy.

Con Ed's residential program manager said the kit turns older wall and window units, which are plentiful in this city, into smart AC similar to ones available for central air. Katelyn Tsukada said Con Ed wants customers to know that they can use the kits and apps to control the old, clunky ACs with their phones.

While Con Ed has offered Smart AC for several years, the company is getting ready to roll out an updated app with a special pet mode feature, which will keep the house cold enough for animals but not wastefully so. The pet mode raises the temperature a few degrees to save energy (and your money).

In addition to making it easier to keep pets cool remotely, there are plenty of other convenient uses when it comes to controlling the climate from the palm of your hand.

Con Ed has given out about 38,000 kits since launching several years ago but hopes more customers sign up.