What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

We Enrolled in peaksaver®

Hydro One introduced the voluntary electricity Demand Response program peaksaver® originally called Smartstat sometime last year. The program is funded by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA). The program is designed to to ease critical strain on the electricity system in Ontario during hot summer weekdays.  Once enrolled in the peaksaver® program, a new programmable thermostat with a special chip will be installed at your residence.  Hydro One can remotely turned up the central air by two degrees Celsius. 

In actuality what they do is set the thermostat to saving which turns the central air unit off for 15 minutes, once per 1 hour period up to a maximum of 4 hours.  At most this may rais the room temperature a couple of degrees but because the fan continues to run in most cases there won't be a noticable difference in room temperature.  The peaksaver® program can only be activated on weekdays from May 1 to September 30 typically between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. for a maximum of four hours.  It cannot be activated more than ten times and yet 2008 had 5 activations and 2009 only had 1 activation.  There is a number you can call to opt out in advance of a specified date if you know you will need full air conditioning for that day (1‑866‑380-6051).  So this is not a program that is going to cause a huge inconvenience to anyone enrolled in it.  You can also opt out of the program at any time if you are unhappy with it.

In order to qualify for the peaksaver® program:

  • must have a central air conditioning unit that works
  • live in a single family dwelling (home or townhouse)
  • be the homeowner or have the homeowner’s written permission to participate in the peaksaver® program
Immediate benefits of the program are:
  • a free, professionally installed programmable thermostat ($250 value)
  • a one-time $25 credit on your electricity bill
  • managing your home's temperature from anywhere
  • saving up to 10% on your year-round heating and cooling costs
  • a maximum total of 1 hour reduced air conditioning costs during peak times as designated by Hydro One
In the big picture we stand to gain a $275 value between the thermostat and credit.  We do have a programmable thermostat that was installed with our new central air conditioner (2007) we will not realize the 10% savings on heating and cooling costs.  There are very few times that we would use the remote feature to increase either heat or cooling so at first that benefit didn't really impress us.  However, there are times especially in the winter that we are away for a few hours but because of weather conditions we end up being overnight so being able to remotely lower the temperature will be a nice benefit.  We also are not average users when it comes to air conditioning due to our location.  Our air conditioner unit runs at most about 10 days in a year if that so it's doubtful if we will ever be affected during peak times.  Still I felt this was a worth while program to enroll in.

Garden Gnome


dr4881 said...

It is a good program if one can get the Peaksaver thermostat installed. I enrolled into the program shortly after it was announced, I am now being told that I might have it installed sometime in the fall.

I have called the 1-866 number multiple times and all I get is that there are no technicians in my area and therefore they can not schedule an appt ( BTW: The call centre controlling the appts is in the US).

When I called Hydro One directly, they responded that I need to work with the US Call centre and they are not responsible appts.

Excuse me, but this is a Hydro One program and I am looking to attempt to save money on my hydro bill and also take some load off the Grid. I suggest that Hydro One start taking responsibility for the programs they are running and not hide behind "Not my Problem".

Garden Gnome said...

Oh my! I fail to see how there is no technician in your area since the Hydro One technicians are quite capable of getting to rather remote areas. In your situation I would be quite tempted to contact my MP since Hydro One is government owned. The 'not my problem' attitude is totally unacceptable!

The peaksaver program is funded through the Ontario government so I was rather upset to find that the call centre was in the US. The hint came when they asked me to confirm my zip code. We've had good luck with Hydro One as far as service and speed which is surprising since we are rural. My only complaint has been that our meter was read every 3 months so our bills were mainly estimates. I called about the program on the 6th and they were out on the 13th to install the thermostat.

In reality the peaksaver thermostat is not going to save much on your hydro bill unless you don't have a programmable thermostat now. If used properly a programmable thermostat will help save on the heating and cooling but not a real noticeable difference. The system was activated I think 5 times in 2008 and only once in 2009. When activated you will save a little but again it likely won't be noticeable on the bill. Still every little bit helps especially with TOU and HST coming into effect.

dr4881 said...

The peaksaver thermostat has the ability to save on the hydro bill and it has a cycle feature which cycles you fan motor ( to circulate air in your residence ) versus having the fan run all time. Couple that saving with the potential saving of the controlling of the AC, it can turn into a reasonable saving over the course of a year.

It is a good program and Hydro One has to accept responsibility for its success.

BTW: I have asked to talk to the senior supervisor on two occasions and I am still waiting for callback.

My next step is to get to the local MP to ask for help.

Have a good day

Garden Gnome said...

The thermostat itself can save money but if you already have a programmable thermostat you won't realize any further savings. If you don't already have a programmable thermostat well then you should notice a bit of savings. Our peaksaver thermostat replaced an existing programmable thermostat so the thermostat won't save us anything unless the peaksaver is triggered. Controlling the AC is only done when absolutely necessary and with only being activated once in 2009 and at a maximum for 4 hours there would be very little savings, definitely not something you would notice on the hydro bill.

In your case though as you are obviously interested in this program I would make a bit more of a stink. This is an Ontario funded program that should be available to anyone living in Ontario who meets the criteria. Being put off the way you have been is totally unacceptable. I would seriously call Hydro One once more and leave a message that you intend to take this public if they do not set you up on peaksaver. Tell them you will be contacting your local MP as well as local newspaper, radio and television stations. Take it public to get your voice heard and to help not only yourself but those who may be in a similar position.

You could also try registering online http://www.hydroone.com/MyHome/SaveEnergy/Pages/Peaksaver.aspx I'm not sure if that will work but it might be worth trying. I do hope you get this matter resolved to your satisfaction. Certainly trying to participate in an energy conservation program only to have problems does not reflect well on those running the program.

dr4881 said...


I will keep you posted on any progress..a