We’re Asking All Members to Save
Energy This Summer. We’ll Even Help.
WITH UNITED PROGRAMS, OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND FOR OUR MEMBERS
We’ve dedicated tremendous resources, time and effort into ensuring that United members are well-equipped to tackle the challenges that will affect each of us more and more. Through the co-op’s efforts to educate and inform its members about the many issues dotting the nation’s and state’s energy landscape, United members should feel like they’re ahead of the pack as together—co-op and members—we forge ahead and share in the success of this electric cooperative.
Because of our business model, we share in the resources that can benefit us both as individuals and a collective membership. It’s our hope that our members, just as the ones did who founded this cooperative in 1938, can find value in the numerous programs available to them.
Texas temperatures are on the rise, which means the electrical load on the ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) grid also will increase. ERCOT expects record-breaking energy consumption and strain on the grid system this summer.
However, United and its members can help to lessen the stress on the grid while also lowering energy costs for the upcoming year.
Each year, United is billed by its power and transmission provider, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, based on how it performed on peak days during June, July, August and September in the previous year. By saving energy during peaks this year, members can reduce the overall cost of next year’s electricity. Here’s how members can help save energy dollars.
Beat the Peak
Beat the Peak is a voluntary program that alerts United members by text or email to reduce load during peak-demand periods when the grid is taxed. Alerts also are announced on United’s Facebook page and Twitter account.
The alerts that enrolled members receive give the expected peak time for that day. During peak periods, members are advised to turn off unnecessary lights and delay using major appliances, such as clothes driers, ovens, stovetops and dishwashers until the alert time has passed.
Members also are encouraged to raise the thermostat a few degrees—the optimum being 78 degrees.
By performing these actions, overall usage drops. The more United members collectively participate in the program, the more they ultimately assist in lowering the cooperative’s and members’ overall energy costs.
Rush Hour Rewards
Rush Hour Rewards (RHR) is another program developed for United’s residential members to reduce usage during peak periods.
To participate in the RHR program, members must have a Nest thermostat and internet access. In the event of a possible peak day during the months of June through
September, United will notify Nest of the estimated timing of the peak.
Enrolled members receive an email or text alert that the RHR has been called. Nest will communicate to all thermostats enrolled in the program and pre-cool the homes up to 3 degrees before the RHR event begins. If members are home and start to feel uncomfortable, they can override the RHR event and adjust the temperature at any time.
In exchange for their participation in the program, United gives members a $50 bill credit after the first summer season of enrollment. Following the season, participating members receive $15 for each summer month they are enrolled, up to $60 a year for each Nest learning thermostat in the home. Up to only 15 three-hour Rush Hour Reward events can occur each summer. Rush Hours usually occur between 3-6:30 p.m. on weekdays or weekends, and no more than one Rush Hour event a day or three Rush Hour events per week are possible.
The Nest thermostat is still considered the critic’s choice among top smart thermostats available on the market today. The Nests provide the ability for consumers to control the thermostats via smart phone or computer.
The company’s website touts the Nest Learning Thermostat as the first thermostat to become ENERGY STAR® certified. It also claims these thermostats have saved billions of kWh of energy in millions of homes worldwide since coming on the market in 2011. Dubbed a self-learning thermostat, the devices can learn consumer temperature-setting preferences and develop schedules around those consumer behaviors.
Independent studies show homeowners with Nest thermostats can save an average of 10-12 percent on heating bills, and 15 percent on cooling bills.
Members can choose between two versions. The 3rd Generation offers a larger high-resolution glass screen surrounded by a sleek metal dial. It comes in various colors including white, black, copper and stainless steel. This version provides a “far sight” feature that will light up the screen when it detects motion from up to 20 feet away. It gives different display options including time, weather and current temperatures both inside and outside the home.
The Nest E is less expensive. It offers a polycarbonate ceramic-like finish with a frosted glass display. It is white in color and designed to blend in with the wall. The Nest E does not have the “far sight” feature. Consumers should check if their HVAC unit is compatible with the Nest E before purchasing, as they don’t operate with about 15 percent of today’s HVAC models.
Both options provide many of the same energy-saving features. They have 10 built-in activity sensors to detect movement in the home. This lets the thermostat adjust the settings to save energy when no one is home. Both learn consumer behaviors and create an “auto-schedule” based on those behaviors, which is adjustable at any time. This allows the homeowner to stay comfortable at all times without multiple manual adjustments.
Additional Nest Add-Ons
As the world of smart homes continuously evolves, Nest provides many optional smart products that complement the Nest Thermostat product line.
Nest Temperature Sensors retail for $39 apiece and expand the thermostat’s ability to keep multiple rooms at the set temperature.
A thermostat is installed on the wall in one location, and it senses the temperature in that immediate area. Because the thermostat’s sensor is stationary, some rooms in a home may be a different temperature than the one where the thermostat is located.
When placed throughout the home, Nest Temperature Sensors connect to the thermostat wirelessly, providing the ability to properly heat or cool other areas of the home to the desired temperature, eliminating hot or cold spots.
A video doorbell system with security cameras and new smoke alarms also can be purchased to link to the Nest thermostats. The smoke alarms detect smoke or carbon monoxide faster than traditional alarms. The alarm alerts a consumer’s phone and describes what it detects.
If those extras aren’t enough, there are many other third-party products on the market that have been designed to work in conjunction with Nest thermostats.
Price and Rebates
The Nest 3rd Generation retails for $249, and the Nest E sells for $169. United helps defray costs of the Nest through its annual Energy Innovation Rebates, found at www.united-cs.com.
United offers a $50 rebate for each Nest a member purchases. With energy savings achieved through a Nest smart thermostat, along with incentives earned for participation in United’s RHR program, the investment cost for a Nest thermostat could be recovered in a year or two, depending on the Nest model selected.
United energy experts are always available to provide additional information, or answer any questions regarding Beat the Peak, the Nest RHR Program, or any of the many energy efficiency rebate resources that are made available to help members manage their energy use more effectively. In addition, United’s energy experts can provide a comprehensive energy efficiency exam of a member’s home with a FREE energy audit scheduled around a member’s convenience.
Don’t miss out on the resources United has set aside for its members. Call a local United office today to find out more.