Energy “peaks” occur when everyone uses electricity at the same time and the cost to purchase and produce energy is most expensive. You can help “beat the peak” by being mindful of not only how you use electricity but also when you use it.
Peaks occur when the demand for electricity is at its highest – like on hot afternoons – when everyone on our system uses more energy in their homes and the temperatures are high. Members use more power on those days – for everything from cooling homes to powering pumps that supply water to lawns and gardens or pools. WFEC and other cooperatives have to deliver much more power than we normally would.
Help us “beat the peak” by limiting energy usage in your home from 2:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. during the summer months. This time period is typically when WFEC members use the most electricity. In the utility industry, this is referred to as the “peak load” or “peak demand.”
During these hours, adjust your thermostat settings up a minimum of three degrees for maximum energy efficiency, avoid washing or drying clothes or using major appliances, and delay hot water usage by taking baths or running the dishwasher at a later hour. You’ll be amazed how much small changes reduce the power you use without having a big impact on your comfort level.
Why is WFEC asking you to help us “beat the peak” or reduce energy usage?
Conserving energy usage during peak hours of consumption can help WFEC members save over time by helping the co-op keep wholesale power costs lower and stable. This won’t amount to large savings on an individual’s bill immediately but will benefit the cooperative as a whole by keeping costs to purchase power lower which could impact future electric rates.
There are many ways members can help reduce peaks. One of the easiest is a simple change to daily routines when it comes to performing tasks and using appliances that require a lot of power to operate. Some of these were mentioned previously in this article.
Another way is to install a programmable thermostat in your home. Some people try to remember to bump their thermostat up a few degrees before they leave for work each day. But many forget to do this and their HVAC unit runs all day long to maintain a lower temperature that no one is home to enjoy. Every one degree the thermostat is raised in the summer months could save members 3 to 5 percent on cooling costs each month. This is a tangible monthly savings that could be used to offset rising gas prices which are impacting everyone’s budgets. Forgetting to adjust thermostats can be a “double whammy” for people that do not get home until after or near the end of their utility’s peak demand period. A programmable thermostat is a win-win for co-op members and all consumers of electricity.
Waiting to water your lawn or garden until off-peak times is another way you can reduce peak use. By waiting until just before sunset, you help the cooperative avoid buying extra power and less of what you put on the ground will evaporate.
Timers are also a great way to control your “time of use” (TOU). This is another common phrase used in the utility industry. Water heaters, pool pumps, and irrigation systems are all large users of electricity that can significantly impact a cooperative’s peak demand if that load is not shifted to an off-peak time each day. Each of these items are perfect candidates for timers which are usually inexpensive to purchase and easy to install.
Being aware of peak power requirements needed by the cooperative and taking steps like the ones mentioned can help you play a part in protecting the reliability of the power grid and help control the cost of electricity. By working together we can help keep rates more affordable and reasonable, and delay the need for more power plants.