ELECTRIC RATES EXPECTED TO INCREASE
This is the fifth in a series of articles provided by Atlantic Municipal Utilities, regarding the outlook for electricity pricing in the next several years. AMU is presenting this information to inform customers about some existing and new programs that can help make the most efficient use of energy, or to help hold down costs for AMU.
(Atlantic) AMU has recently become involved in a project called “2 Degrees 2 Save”. The project was conceived by the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU), who applied for grants to fund the project through the American Recovery and Resource Act, through the U.S. Department of Energy. The project was awarded $5 million last spring, which will fund approximately 40% of costs related to the program.
The focus of AMU’s 2 Degrees 2 Save program includes two goals – improve energy efficiency of residential and small commercial heating and cooling systems, that is, reduce the electricity and/or gas used; and to reduce the demand for electricity during the peak hours at which electrical prices are the highest. Electrical energy and electrical demand – two important terms which customers need to become more familiar with.
Electrical energy is the electricity itself, the electron flow that lights your homes and businesses. Electric meters measure electrical energy usage, in units of kilowatthours (kWh), the equivalent of using 1,000 watts of electricity for one hour. (“Energy” refers to other forms, such as natural gas or propane used for home heating).
Electrical demand is a measure of how much electricity is required at any given time, and is measured in kilowatts. For example, if a customer had ten 100 watt lightbulbs all turned on, the demand would be 1,000 watts, or one kilowatt. The total demand of all of AMU’s customers combined determines how much generation must be used to supply electric service. Demand is a major cost component, and if demand can be reduced, the utility and its customers can save money.
2 Degrees 2 Save has two major components:
· “Smart” thermostats to reduce both energy use (which could be natural gas, propane, or electrical energy), and lower electrical demand
· Remotely-controlled switches which can temporarily shut off devices like electric water heaters during the few hours that electrical demand is at its peak
Smart thermostats used in 2 Degrees 2 Save are devices designed and manufactured by Honeywell Corporation, a trusted name in heating and air conditioning controls. Honeywell is one of the world’s largest companies in terms of reducing energy usage in homes and offices.
The benefit to the customer of having a smart thermostat installed is the potential to save energy through use of its time-of-day programmable settings. By setting the thermostat to different temperatures during periods when no one is home, or at night, customers can save up to 15% on their heating and cooling bills. Note that energy saved can either be in the form of natural gas or propane used for heating, or electricity for cooling or heating.
The “2 Degrees” aspect of this thermostat refers to the ability for AMU to send a signal to the thermostats to indicate that a peak demand period is occurring. When that signal is received, the temperature setting is temporarily increased by two degrees. This will reduce electrical demands, and reduce costs during those few hours a year when peaks occur.
The thermostat used also includes some high-tech capabilities. Customers can program their thermostat using menus on its modern touchscreen display, or if they wish they can program their thermostats over the Internet. The web page for their individual thermostat will also include information from AMU, indicating wholesale prices for electricity during different periods of the day. The thermostat can also display short text messages from AMU, including one to allow the customer to verify whether AMU is in a peaking situation, overriding their normal thermostat setting.
AMU will provide the thermostats, and have them professionally installed by local contractors – a total value of over $200 - free to qualifying customers. The minimum target for 2 Degrees 2 Save is to install smart thermostats in at least 50% of the homes and qualifying small businesses with central air conditioning installed. We are hopeful to see much higher participation rates, as customers work together with us to try to reduce costs.
The second part of the 2 Degrees 2 Save program is the installation of remotely-controlled switches on non-critical loads, such as electric water heaters. Water heaters are unique in that they are one of the few ways to store electric energy. They can be temporarily disconnected, yet continue to provide that stored hot water for the customer’s needs. At any given time, about 15 to 20 percent of the water heaters on AMU’s system are using electricity, so by shutting them down, demand for electricity can be reduced. Again, any reduction in peak demand saves money for AMU and all of its customers.
AMU’s goal is to control 85% to 90% of the electric water heaters on the system. Switches will be professionally installed, at AMU’s expense, and at no expense to the customer. Customers allowing control will qualify for a monthly discount on their electric bills, while those who opt not to allow control will pay costs that reflect the higher cost to serve uncontrolled units.
Today, AMU is mailing out information on the 2 Degrees 2 Save program, including a postpaid post card form that we would like to have all customers complete and return. More information will also be published in tomorrow’s edition of the News Telegraph.
Here are 12 More Ways 2 Save:
1. Turn on the ceiling fan. Set it to move air down in the summer and up in the winter.
2. Switch to CFLs, which use approximately 75% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs.
3. Remove dryer lint. Improve your dryer performance and minimize the risk of fire by cleaning your lint filter after every load - you can save $34 a year on energy costs.
4. Wrap your water heater. Install an insulation blanket - fiberglass batting attached to a heavy plastic sheet. It can save you up to 9% on water heating costs.
5. Invest in a reusable furnace filter and forget replacing your filter every month. You'll maximize output, keep air in tip-top shape, and save money.
6. Plan ahead and thaw foods in the fridge. You'll decrease cook time by 30%.
7. Keep the oven door shut. When you open it to peek at tasty treats, the oven temperature drops 25 to 50 degrees. Use the oven light to check on food instead.
8. Hang clothes on a clothesline. Line drying clothes can cut about $25 off your monthly energy bill.
9. Plug electronics into a "smart" power strip. The strip will automatically cut off power to gizmos when they're not in use.
10. Switch to nonelectric appliances when possible. Try a windup alarm clock, a hand beater, and a hand-cranked ice cream maker.
11. Schedule an air-conditioner tune-up. Ask you service technician to measure airflow, inspect the motor and belts, clear the drain, and check the refrigerant level.
12. Fill your freezer for maximum efficiency. If you don't have enough food, place stacks of newspaper, bags of shipping peanuts, or plastic bags full of water to eat up space.
AMU PRESS RELEASE