FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW DOES ENERGY WISE REWARDS WORK?
When you enroll, we’ll connect an indoor Energy Wise Rewards programmable thermostat or an outdoor switch near your central air conditioning unit. On selected days from June through October (Peak Savings Days), we’ll automatically cycle participating air conditioners to help balance the region’s demand for electricity. These events are known as Energy Wise Rewards “conservation periods”. The more participants there are in the program, the greater the likelihood of reduced duration for any single conservation period. Energy Wise Rewards works best when it is truly a community-wide effort.
WHAT IS “CYCLING”?
When a conservation period is called, your device will receive a radio signal that will put your A/C compressor into a “conservation mode”. For instance, if you elect 50% cycling, your compressor will operate half the time it did during the hour prior to the conservation period. The fan will continue to circulate air even though the compressor has reduced operating time.
WILL I RECEIVE ALL OF THE BILL CREDITS IN THE SAME CALENDAR YEAR?
In order to receive the entire available credits in a calendar year, your device must be installed prior to your June bill. Although Pepco can not guarantee installation, if you enroll and schedule your appointment prior to March 30, you are most likely to have the device installed prior to your June bill (even if you receive your bill early in June).
ARE THERE ANY HIDDEN COSTS OR FEES WITH THIS PROGRAM?
No. Participation is totally voluntary and you do not pay to participate.
CAN I SWITCH MY PARTICIPATION LEVEL AFTER SIGNING UP FOR ENERGY WISE REWARDS?
Yes. Energy Wise Rewards has been designed to meet your changing needs. During your first year of participation, you will be permitted to switch your cycling level twice (2x). In subsequent years, you will be permitted to change your level of commitment once (1x) annually.
MAY I SWITCH MY DEVICE TYPE?
Yes. Energy Wise Rewards has been designed to meet your changing needs. You will need to contact the Program Call Center at 1-866-353-5798 to request and schedule the change of devices.
HOW OFTEN WILL THE PROGRAM BE ACTIVATED?
The number of conservation periods depends on many factors, including weather, peak electricity demand, and wholesale energy costs. Energy Wise Rewards is only activated during times of high electricity demand, emergency conditions, or system testing. As such, there may be as few as one or two Peak Savings Days or as many as a dozen. In a typical year, one can expect 5 or less events.
WHEN AND FOR HOW LONG WILL A CONSERVATION PERIOD LAST?
Conservation periods typically occur on hot weekday afternoons and can last anywhere from 3 to 6 hours.
Keep in mind that the duration of conservation periods could be reduced as the number of Energy Wise Rewards participants increases. This requires a community-wide effort, so spread the word and share the load.
If an emergency event is called by PJM** (Priority Peak Day) for reliability reasons, it will last until the situation is resolved; therefore, Pepco can not state how long an event of this type may last.
WILL ENERGY WISE REWARDS AFFECT MY COMFORT LEVEL?
Depending on the level of participation you choose, you may or may not notice that an Energy Wise Rewards conservation period is even occurring. During the course of a conservation period, the temperature in a typical home may rise 1-3 degrees (50% level), 2-4 degrees (75% level), or 4-7 degrees (100% level). Variables such as home insulation, shaded windows, the addition of ceiling fans, and the amount of home foot traffic are some of the things that can also affect the temperature.
HOW WILL I KNOW WHEN AN ENERGY WISE REWARDS CONSERVATION PERIOD IS OCCURRING?
Check your programmable thermostat. When a conservation period occurs, the LED will glow red and the display will read “Event in Progress” at the top of the screen. The center of the control arrows will maintain a steady light for the duration of the period.
If you have an outdoor switch, you will need to go outside to inspect the device. A red LED will appear in the window of the outdoor switch throughout the conservation period.
CAN AN EMERGENCY EVENT (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS “PRIORITY PEAK DAY”) OCCUR OUTSIDE OF THE MONTHS OF THE COOLING SEASON?
Yes. This could occur, and in that event you would be required to participate per the program rules and the customer agreement.
AM I PERMITTED TO “OPT OUT” OF A CONSERVATION PERIOD?
All customers are permitted to opt out of up to two non-Priority Peak Days during the cooling season. Participants who wish to override a conservation period will need to call our Energy Wise Rewards Service Center at 1-866-353-5798.
HOW DOES ENERGY WISE REWARDS BENEFIT MY COMMUNITY?
Pepco customers use more electricity during the summer season than at other times of the year. As the area grows and more new and existing customers install central air conditioners, demand for electricity reaches higher and higher peaks in the summer, putting a strain on the power system. Participating in Energy Wise Rewards helps avoid paying for the construction of new power plants built primarily to operate only during times of very high electricity demand for a handful of hours per year.
HOW DOES ENERGY WISE REWARDS KEEP ENERGY RATES LOW?
Demand for electricity in our area is rapidly rising. During the “peak demand” times of summer, Energy Wise Rewards works to reduce electricity usage by “cycling” central air conditioners throughout the region, averting power outages. This reduces the need to build costly, new electrical infrastructure that can drive up rates, and reduces the amount of fossil fuel bought and burned to generate power to satisfy demand.
HOW DOES ENERGY WISE REWARDS HELP THE ENVIRONMENT?
Reducing the use of fossil fuels reduces greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing electricity demand during a conservation period, Energy Wise Rewards also reduces emissions by averting the need for production of additional electricity. When load is highest and supplies are strained, the least efficient power plants must be brought into operation to meet demand or outages become likely. Lower efficiency electricity production also generally equates with higher emissions. The Energy Wise Rewards approach reduces the urgency in building additional power lines and power stations, thereby preserving our natural environment.
ABOUT YOUR THERMOSTAT INSTALLATION
WHAT IF THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH MY EXISTING EQUIPMENT?
Once the technician is onsite, he or she may determine that your air conditioning system either (a) has a problem that prevents installation without repairs being done first, or (b) is not compatible with the equipment being installed. Should this happen, the technician will inform you of the findings and your options.
HOW CAN MY PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT SAVE 10% ANNUALLY ON MY COOLING AND HEATING COSTS?
The energy saving benefits of programmable thermostats have been explored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). According to the DOE, depending on usage patterns and how effectively you program the thermostat, it is possible to save as much as 10% on home cooling and heating costs, assuming winter set backs and summer set forwards when the home is empty.
I AM ON THE PEPCO SYSTEM AS HAVING A MEDICAL CONDITION. AM I ABLE TO PARTICIPATE?
Yes, only you can decide what’s appropriate for you. However, we want to make sure you are aware that the temperature inside the house will increase during a conservation period, and you should take that into consideration before enrolling.
WHAT RESIDENCES AND EQUIPMENT QUALIFY FOR THE ENERGY WISE REWARDS PROGRAM?
To qualify for Energy Wise Rewards, you should be a homeowner or a resident in a multiple dwelling complex, with either a central air conditioning unit or heat pump and receive an electric bill directly from Pepco.
The following equipment and residential units do not qualify for Energy Wise Rewards and are therefore unable to receive an energy saving device:
- Geothermal heat pumps (also known as GeoExchange, earth-coupled, ground-source, or water-source heat pumps)
- Evaporative coolers (also known as swamp, desert, or air coolers)
- High Rise Condominiums
- Thermostats controlled by home alarm or home automation systems
If you have any questions about whether or not your home qualifies, please contact us prior to enrollment at 1-866-353-5798.
FACT VS. FICTION
Fiction: “The Energy Wise Rewards programmable thermostat will allow Pepco to change my home temperature over the Internet.”
Fact: You – and only you – have control of temperature settings. Pepco can only send a radio signal to cycle your A/C compressor during a conservation period. Nothing more.
Fiction: “I need an Internet connection to participate in Energy Wise Rewards.”
Fact: You only need a central air conditioner or heat pump to participate. Both the outdoor switch and the programmable thermostat receive radio signals to begin a conservation period. This is unrelated to the Internet.
Fiction: “I already have a programmable thermostat, so there’s no reason for me to participate in Energy Wise Rewards.”
Fact: Everyone’s participation contributes to the community. If you already have a programmable thermostat, we can still install an outdoor switch near your A/C unit to receive our radio signal for conservation periods. We can all participate in reducing the risk of future power outages and helping to keep energy costs down.
Fiction: “If I participate in this program, I will use more electricity getting my house back to the setting I like when the conservation period ends (i.e., my A/C will work ‘harder’).”
Fact: Participating in Energy Wise Rewards will result in less overall energy use by your air conditioning equipment during the day of a conservation period. Yes, your system is likely to operate continuously at its full output once the conservation period is over, until the temperature sensed by the thermostat matches your chosen set point temperature. However, generally when this occurs, the outside air is a bit cooler than during the event. Therefore, the decreased air temperature should allow the unit to operate less strenuously than it would have performed during the hottest period of the day. So, although your system will use more energy immediately after an event than it normally would use at that time of day, your system will have used less energy during the prior hour(s). The difference in energy use between the two periods should result in a net energy savings.