Many electric companies around the country have unique programs to manage their demand during particularly high energy usage days. They incentivize electricity savings a variety of ways. These are typically in the summer, when high temperatures mean lots of air conditioners working overtime. One of the most popular plans is what my local provider calls "Energy Savings Days." The company asks customers to minimize their use of electricity during certain hours, then provides them a cash incentive for the amount that they minimize their use.
For example, my family uses about 54 kWh on an average day. There are some peaks and valleys across the day, but our usage during the Energy Savings Days hours is average, so we'll figure a little over 2 kWh per hour.
My local company offers a credit of $1.25 per kWh less than average used between 1 and 7 pm on Energy Savings Days. Today is an Energy Savings Day, so we're going all out to see how much energy we can not use between 1 and 7 pm.
Thankfully, there are a ton of things you can do to knock back your energy usage, and maybe some of them will become long-term habits:
- Turn the air conditioner up, or off. We're going to see if we can go from 1 to 7 pm without turning on the air conditioner. Another, less drastic option is to put the temperature pretty high. We usually keep our thermostat at 78 degrees, so 82 or 84 degrees isn't a huge jump for us.
- Unplug everything non-essential. My family is really bad about leaving cell phone and laptop chargers plugged in even when they are not in use. Plus, we almost never use our television and cable box, yet they are plugged in all the time. I turned off the TV components at the surge protector, and we've decided to leave them turned off except for the rare times we want to watch TV.
- Don't run the dishwasher, clothes washer, or clothes dryer during peak hours. Stick a post-it note over the start button to remind everyone in the house.
- Turn off the dehumidifier. An average model uses about one kWh just under every four hours.
- Skip the blow dryer, or use it before the peak energy hours. A blow dryer uses a lot of energy, but most people use them for only short periods of time.
- Make sure people are turning off lights and ceiling fans when not in the room, or not necessary.
- Close the blinds in rooms that are getting sun. Open the blinds in windows where the sun is not hitting to provide light.
- Choose meals that don't require the use of the oven or longer-term use of the stove. Slow-cookers are great for this. They are very energy-efficient compared to an electric or gas oven, plus they contain the heat so that you're not paying more to air condition your kitchen. Plus, you don't have to use them in the kitchen. In my last house, I would put it in the basement laundry room during the summer.