It’s a Prime Time for Cool Cash Savings!
With August here, summer fun is at its peak…and so are the temperatures. Last year, temperatures were, on average, 88 degrees Fahrenheit. As you can imagine, this means that a lot of us turn on our air-conditioners. What you may not be aware of is that as the summer heats up, this is a prime opportunity to earn some cool cash savings!
The Energy Demand Dilemma
Our energy suppliers work to provide energy – whether we’re using a little or a lot. They provide power for a typical day, but they also have to have enough power ready to go for when we all decide to turn on our A/Cs on a hot summer day. That’s why we have peak power plants on our grid, special power plants for handling the peak energy demand of those especially steamy days.
When we’re all using a lot more energy than normal and at the same time, two things happen:
- Our energy suppliers turn on those peak power plants. These plants are typically fossil fuel plants waiting on standby for these purposes. Because these plants only operate for short periods of time, they can be less efficient and are costly to run, in terms of money and the environment.
- Our transmission lines and infrastructure need to carry all this extra energy to our communities, businesses, and homes. Our lines can only carry so much energy at one time, and so as our lines get close to capacity, the reliability of our grid decreases, which can cause outages.
During these peak events, utilities work to preserve our grid from power outages and damage to our transmission infrastructure. They do this by finding ways to “shed load”. Businesses and institutions can work with their utility to reduce reliance on grid power during these peak periods. Montgomery County, as well as many of our agencies (such as Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (PDF, 268KB), Montgomery College, and Montgomery County Public Schools (PDF, 2.64 MB)), participates in such activities to alleviate peak periods. During these peak periods, everyone can pitch in, even you.
When each of us do a little bit to reduce our demand, we can reduce the time the peak plants operate and maintain the grid for important functions during heat waves.
Action #1: Turn your thermostat to 80 degrees during the day when you leave the home during the day.
Not only does this reduce demand during the day (when businesses will tend to use more energy), but it will save you money. Running your central air conditioner during the day can cost you an extra $75 a month (EPA ENERGY STAR Air Conditioner calculator; less for a window unit).
Action #2: Respond to your utility’s peak demand notices, reduce your energy use and get cash. Utilities offer programs that compensate you for reducing your demand in the hot summertime – Check out your utility’s program and consider signing up (if necessary).
Utility Program Incentives
Pepco’s Peak Energy Savings Credit is easy to earn. There’s no enrollment, just be sure you’re signed up for the notifications under your My Account or by calling 1-855-750-PEAK. You’ll get a notification when there’s a peak event, and if you can reduce your demand below your baseline (normal use), you’ll earn $1.25 for every kWh you reduce below your baseline.
With BGE Smart Energy PeakRewards you can set your central home air conditioning to cycle on and off, helping reduce load while barely noticing it. You can early between $100 and $200 in bill credits from June – September. To get started, enroll online.
Potomac Edison currently does not offer a peak demand program for residents. If you are a business interested contributing to peak load shedding, visit their programs at pepco.com and bge.com for more information.
Let us know if you’re helping “shed the load” with any of these strategies!
By Michelle Vigen, Senior Energy Planner, Department of Environmental Protection