PowerShift®: One little switch for a household, giant savings for a whole community

What you do at home affects everyone in your community. That’s not as daunting as it sounds, really, and we’re not going to take you to task for ignoring the dandelions or skipping breakfast.

However: The way you use electricity ripples out into your community by affecting overall demand. The higher the demand, the more we have to pay to build power plants and the higher everyone’s rates turn out to be.

It’s why POWER MOVES exists, of course. It’s also why PowerShift is one of the first programs we introduced—decades ago—and why our electric co-ops offer cash back to members who participate.

It works very simply:

  1. Your co-op installs a switch on your water heater, air conditioner, or pool pump.
  2. You receive a credit for participating (if you do so by [date]).
  3. When demand is high, we cycle off your appliances in short increments.
  4. Everybody saves money!

“It’s a simple tool that helps keep electric rates low,” as Wabash Valley Power Association Manager of Load Response Andrew Horstman explains it. “It’s something you can do to keep us from having to run or build a power plant. Instead of turning on a generator, we’re turning off appliances for a short time at critical moments.”

The electric grid gets especially strained during certain times, like a toasty summer afternoon when more air conditioners than ever are humming along. Turning off appliances briefly reduces the load.

Our members tell us they don’t notice the difference. Taking part in the program won’t mean your shower is cold or you’re roasting without air conditioning on a hot July afternoon.

“We want everyone to be comfortable,” Horstman said. “And it works. You have stored thermal heat in your water heater, for instance. Your air conditioner doesn’t stay off long enough to change the temperature dramatically.”

We limit the duration and available times for cycling appliances off, and over our decades of offering the PowerShift program we’ve averaged only three or four times per season.

The control switches do no harm to your appliances, and they’re capable only of sending an “off” or “on” signal. We can’t track your usage with them or utilize them for anything other than cycling off the appliance.

So what’s the downside? Well, we’re not sure. We can’t think of any, and we haven’t heard any from the members who participate in the program. Try it yourself and let us know. We dare you. And we’re happy to put our money where our mouths are.

Contact your local Energy Advisor to get started.