Residential Demand Response and The Heat Wave: Green Savings

July 18, 2013

With the summer heat waves, air-conditioners are being turned up across the country, raising power demand and prices. Demand response programs save electricity and money by allowing power companies to manage household’s home’s electricity demand according to the latest ClearlyEnergy survey.

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) July 18, 2013

ClearlyEnergy, the leading provider of energy savy search for appliances and electric choice, recently conducted a survey of the direct load control programs across the US. In exchange for allowing a power company to turn down or off a residential air conditioner during peak load times, these programs offer rebates and other financial incentives. The programs often come with creative names such as Summer Saver, Peak Rewards, EnergyWise, CoolCustomer, Saver’s Switch or Degrees of Difference and pay anywhere from $20 – $200/year depending on the utility.

Peak Load

Electricity tends to cost more in the summertime – “with the current heat wave across the Eastern US, prices in the Mid-Atlantic, New York and New England region are topping at $200 to $300/MWh in the afternoon, when they typically shouldn’t cross the $50/MWh mark” mentions Véronique Bugnion, co-founder of ClearlyEnergy. To meet the peak load associated with high air conditioning demand, power companies have to fire up every power plant they have, which is both expensive and often not very environmentally friendly.“Power companies are so eager to cut demand during critical times that they will pay consumers to use less electricity” says Norma Autry, co-founder of ClearlyEnergy. These demand response programs are most often focused on industrial and commercial customers, but increasingly, are also targeted at residential consumers.

Program Design

The reward in direct load control programs is usually a one-time credit for signing up, plus a flat monthly credit for the summer months or an annual credit paid at the end of the summer. That credit often increases if water heaters, pool pumps or hot tubs are added to the list of appliances, which can be controlled by the power company. A few programs such as Georgia Power’s, pay per activation, and some such as Duke Energy’s Power Manager pay out as a direct function of the power price at the time of the cycling event. Xcel’s program is structured as a discount to the summer’s electric bills.

ClearlyEnergy’s survey shows that newer programs rely on programmable thermostats coupled to smart meters instead of switches installed on the air conditioner or water-heating unit. For example, in implementations such as Nevada Energy’s, the power company doesn’t cycle the air conditioner, but instead raises the thermostat temperature by up to 4 few degrees to achieve a comparable result. BGE’s new Smart Energy Rewards takes the idea one step further by paying $1.25 per kwh saved during those critical days. Thermostat driven programs, such as Reliant’s Degrees of Difference in partnership with Nest, often include a programmable thermostat which allows the homeowner or the power company to manage a home’s power consumption.

“Direct load control programs are great for those working outside of their homes during the week since most programs cannot be activated on weekends, however, for those at home at mid-day, having the power company cycle the air conditioning on a hot day is not the most pleasant idea” comments Bugnion. Many programs account for this by offering different degrees of intervention – Pepco’s Energy Wise Rewards program in the Maryland and DC area, Duke Energy’s or San Diego Gas & Electric’s offer 75% and 50% cycling options for those who can take some slightly warmer home temperatures in exchange for a (smaller) rebate. Other programs such as Dominion Virginia’s Smart Cooling Program offer the option opt-out of a cycling event a couple times per summer.

Residential demand response programs can save money for residential consumers, utilities and help the environment by avoiding inefficient power plants from coming online. A summary of ClearlyEnergy’s survey can be found here.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/7/prweb10939726.htm

Source: prweb

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