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Peak Rewards

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:

For more fun facts, here is a suc­cess story page of the program’s results.

Elissa Rei­neck
Novem­ber 2013

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