I just saved another $50 bucks this summer by being in the PeakRewards program. That could have been $100 if I had chosen the highest level in the program, but I like a good compromise so this works for me.
If you’re not familiar with the program, homeowners receive money towards their bill for allowing BGE to “cycle” their energy on days where there is high energy demand. Renters can be in the program with their landlord’s permission. Energy companies are trying to reduce the need for building more power plants and reduce the chances of brown-outs and black-outs.
The one time last summer that I actually noticed a “cycling,” my air conditioner would turn off for 15 minutes then on for 15 minutes and this went on for a few hours. The indoor temperature went up to 80 during that time but it was back to the normal programmed temperature by the time we went to sleep. Not bad at all.
I called BGE and was told that there are usually 4–6 cycling events per summer. These high demand times usually happen on weekdays between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. Summer of 2013 had only one “emergency” event. In non-emergency events, everyone is cycled at 50% (even if you sign up for a higher level) and emergency events are cycled at your chosen level (50%, 75%, or 100%).
I have been in the program for several years and I saw a big improvement this year in BGE’s communication. Now you can get email alerts letting you know a cycling event is happening. Also, I think they are better about putting the info on the website. I found this very helpful, rather than having to look at my programmable thermostat to see if it had the “SAVINGS” message that comes on during cycling events.
The free programmable thermostat that was installed when I signed up is actually my favorite part of PeakRewards. You don’t have to get the thermostat, you can get an outdoor switch instead. But I LOVE the one that I got. It is very easy to use and I’m sure I save a bunch of money by using it. MUCH better than the previous “programmable” thermostat that came with my heat pump. I found that one incomprehensible. Now I use the easy touch screen to program day and night temperatures and I change those during vacations, etc. You can also sign up to be able to change your temperatures remotely, but while I am a fan of the program, that’s one step beyond me.
PeakRewards is part of a larger energy efficiency effort called EmPOWER Maryland. The goal of EmPOWER Maryland is to reduce energy use 15% by 2015.
Other cool things about PeakRewards:
- You get bonus money the first year you sign up.
- You can opt out of up to 4 non-emergency events per summer.
- There is also an electric water heater program.
For more fun facts, here is a success story page of the program’s results.Elissa Reineck November 2013