Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Saving Energy with Energy Guard

Several months ago, I signed up to a program called CPS Energy Savers Home Manager (Previously, Energy Guard), with my local energy company, CPS. This program is very nice in that they give you a very nice (and expensive) programmable thermostat that you are capable of programming, and check/change the temperature remotely from the Internet or at home. They also give you access to turn off your water heater remotely and inform you of how much energy your home as a whole is using and when (down to 15 minute intervals).

One additional 'feature' to the program is that during peak energy hours when the grid is in danger of browning out, I give permission to CPS to override my programming and possibly turn off my water heater if necessary and bump up my thermostat. Initially I was very concerned about them just randomly changing my settings and the house feeling very unco
mfortable. However, recently in sunny (and very hot) San Antonio, we were having some record heat and I was able to see exactly how they override the settings, how the house responds, and how our energy bill responds as well.

When this happened outside it was 104F and San Antonio was in danger of browning out. As such, they did bump the 'cooling' up to 85F, which is the recommendation from Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) during times where black/brown outs are likely to help reduce the load on the grid. While this is not the most comfortable temperature, the temperature was still set to 85 until 6PM when it started to cool again because we were coming home. So while I did come home to a warmer house, it was still cooler than outside. Also, an important note is that AC's also tend to be the most efficient when the differential is 20 degree's or less, which setting it to 85F kept it just at that 20 degree mark. Keeping within that 20 degree range allows the compressor to get the necessary breaks to prevent the overheating and properly cycle on and off saving us costly AC repairs down the line.

In the end, we had to deal with a slightly warmer house for a couple of hours, but to be honest, with the fans going, it wasn't too bad. But I consider the fact that CPS is saving energy, they are also in a way saving my compressor/AC unit because I probably wouldn't have risen the temperature (due to ignorance and laziness), which in the end saved us a few bucks as well. If you live in the CPS energy region and have a well insulated home, like I do, then I think that this program might be one of interest to you, especially if you aren't home during the regular business hours.

P.S. If you have someone who needs the temperature to be lower, the option of overriding it is always there. :-)

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