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Managing summer energy use: Reduce peak demand and save money

As temperatures rise in the summer, keeping your house comfortable can lead to additional use of air conditioning units and in turn, higher electricity bills. By improving energy conservation, you can help your electric cooperative reduce demand — saving both energy and money.

During the summer, peak loads occur during times when electricity use is at its highest. This typically happens in the middle of a hot afternoon, when air conditioners are running to offset the outside temperatures, and around dinnertime, when families are cooking, taking showers, washing dishes, and doing laundry.

During the summer months, peak alerts are likely to occur Monday to Friday, from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., on extremely hot and humid days. Peak alerts can also occur in the winter, depending on temperatures and demand.

We share peak alert notifications on our social media channels and through text messages for those who are subscribed. Whether you participate in our load management program or not, we ask members to help by reducing use during these times of high demand.

Reducing electricity use during peak times lowers the overall demand and reduces the strain on the power grid. Lower demand allows your cooperative to secure lower rates, and these savings are passed on to our members. It’s important to note: A peak alert is not a shortage of electricity; it’s a way to manage the cost of purchasing higher-cost electricity.

Understanding the electric grid With Buckeye Power being a member of the PJM Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), hot summer or cold winter days in Ohio do not always correspond with the need to use peak management.

Costs are allocated in two ways: The first is based on five days when the entire PJM system load is highest and the second is determined during the one hour of the year when the transmission utilities serving Buckeye’s members experience their peak demand. This simply means it may be cool and mild (summer) or warm and mild (winter) in Ohio, but if the east coast is experiencing high temperatures and humidity in the summer or frigid temperatures in the winter, it may be necessary to control.

Radio-controlled switches Electric cooperatives across the state, including Pioneer Electric, save money by allowing our co-op-owned generation supplier, Buckeye Power, to control central air conditioning units and water heaters at certain times through load management devices called radio-controlled switches (RCS).

Whenever there is a risk of a peak, the RCS is activated and temporarily interrupts your electricity. On your air conditioner, the switch simply cycles the compressor of your HVAC unit for brief periods of time. Air continues to circulate through your home. During these brief cycles, the air handler continues to run circulating air throughout the home.

For water heaters, the switch interrupts the power supply to the heating elements, however since the water in an electric water heater stays warm for several hours without power, most members will never notice the temporary shutdown.

By reducing the demand for electricity created by electric water heaters and central air conditioning systems of our members, the cooperative works to reduce power costs for everyone.

For more information on our load management program visit or call our office at 800-762-0997.

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