Keeping your cool when energy demand heats up can lead to savings and other benefits

During the severely sweltering summer, planning ahead to save energy can keep you cool while helping the environment — and even get you some green back!

People know the basic rules of supply and demand — when demand goes up, the price typically goes up. The same goes for electricity: when businesses are operating and everyone is running their A/C on a hot summer afternoon, wholesale electricity prices can soar. You may not see these price differences on your home’s energy bill because your electric co-op may average these costs into one amount per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Yet eventually, high demand days can lead to higher average costs for everyone.

Your local electric cooperative is part of a complex system that must be prepared to meet the highest power demands put on the energy grid. This is similar to the way a big box store parking lot may seem larger than needed. When you pass by on most days, most of the spots are empty. Yet on the day after Thanksgiving, customarily the year’s busiest shopping day, the parking lot may be crammed with cars. Your electric co-op has to build or buy enough capacity to fulfill everyone’s needs on that hottest day (or coldest night) of the year.

Response to Demand Can Save

Many co-ops offer advice and programs to limit the peak demand during those days of extreme temperatures and energy use. Options for homeowners can include load management programs for different devices, such as air conditioners and water heaters, to shift energy use to times when electricity is in less demand. By doing this, the distribution co-op and its generation and transmission cooperative can avoid building new power plants to meet increasing demand (this construction would lead to higher costs for the local electric cooperative and its members) or having to purchase energy on the market.

You can contact your local electric co-op’s energy advisor for information on resources available to help you lower your home’s energy use. Your co-op may even offer programs (and rebates!) for you to help keep a lid on long-term energy costs. Everyone has a role in reducing long-term energy costs for the local electric cooperative — which, in turn, also minimizes the costs you will have to pay in the future. Call your local electric co-op for details, and you can visit check out the rest of our website for more energy-saving tips and advice.