FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
PEPCO ENERGY WISE REWARDS PROGRAM QUESTIONS
Why Energy Wise Rewards? Why now?
How does Energy Wise Rewards for Business work?
What is cycling?
What choices are available to me when I join Energy Wise Rewards for Business?
How will I receive my Installation Credit and Energy Wise Rewards Bill Credit?
Will I receive all of the Energy Wise Rewards Bill Credits in the same calendar year?
Are there any hidden costs or fees with this program?
May I switch my device type?
How many conservation periods can I expect per year?
When and for how long will a conservation period last?
What causes high, or peak, electricity demand?
Will Energy Wise Rewards for Business affect my comfort level?
How will I know when an Energy Wise Rewards conservation period is occurring?
Can an emergency event, or Priority Peak Day, occur outside of the months of the cooling season?
Am I permitted to opt out of a conservation period?
Are there penalties for withdrawing from Energy Wise Rewards?
How does Energy Wise Rewards benefit my community?
How does Energy Wise Rewards help Maryland?
How does Energy Wise Rewards keep energy rates low?
How does Energy Wise Rewards help the environment?
WHY ENERGY WISE REWARDS? WHY NOW?
As the Pepco region continues to grow, and the number of central air conditioners, heat pumps, and other energy-hungry appliances increases, the demand for energy increases, straining existing supply. Energy Wise Rewards for Business offers state-of-the-art technology to Maryland businesses and organizations as part of a voluntary program that manages energy during periods of highest demand. The program helps to reduce the need to build costly power plants, and averts energy shortages and power interruptions.
HOW DOES ENERGY WISE REWARDS FOR BUSINESS WORK?
When you enroll, we’ll install your choice of an Energy Wise Rewards web-programmable thermostat or an outdoor switch near your central air conditioning unit or heat pump, in each facility. On selected Peak Savings Days from June through October, we’ll automatically cycle off and on participating central air conditioners and heat pumps for short periods to help balance the region’s demand for electricity. These events are known as conservation periods. In turn, you will receive an Installation Credit and Energy Wise Rewards Bill Credits for your participation.
WHAT IS CYCLING?
Cycling is how Pepco manages times of peak energy demand. When a conservation period is called, your device will receive a radio signal that will put your cooling unit’s compressor into a conservation mode, during which it 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 a reduced operating time.
WHAT CHOICES ARE AVAILABLE TO ME WHEN I JOIN ENERGY WISE REWARDS FOR BUSINESS?
To enroll in Energy Wise Rewards, you’ll be invited to select the device we will install for you, either a web-programmable thermostat or an outdoor switch.
Our web-programmable thermostat can save you even more money – according to the U.S. Department of Energy, as much as 10% off your annual electric bills. This state-of-the-art energy-saving device will be professionally installed at no charge to you.
- Web programmability allows remote program changes from anywhere you have Internet access
- Save up to 10% annually off your cooling and heating costs
- Seven-day/four-interval programming for customization to your schedule
- Large, high-resolution LCD display
- Professionally installed at no charge
Our outdoor switch is installed outside your facility, on or near your central A/C unit(s) or heat pump(s), and operates automatically. You don’t even have to be at your facility for the installation. Just sign up, and start earning Bill Credits.
- Operates automatically
- You don’t have to be at your facility for installation if there is safe and easy access to your central air conditioner or heat pump
- Professionally installed at no charge
HOW WILL I RECEIVE MY INSTALLATION CREDIT AND ENERGY WISE REWARDS BILL CREDIT?
You will receive your one-time Installation Credit for each device installed as a bill reduction within two billing cycles of the installation of your Energy Wise Rewards device(s). Energy Wise Rewards Bill Credits will appear as a prorated line item savings on your monthly bills for June through October. For example, if your device is installed before you are billed in June, you will receive your one-time $80 Installation Credit as a bill reduction plus $16 per month in Energy Wise Rewards Bill Credits for June through October. You will receive Energy Wise Rewards Bill Credits for each installed device at your facility.
WILL I RECEIVE ALL OF THE ENERGY WISE REWARDS BILL CREDITS IN THE SAME CALENDAR YEAR?
In order to receive all available credits in a calendar year, your device must be installed prior to your June bill. Although Pepco cannot guarantee when your installation will occur, if you enroll and schedule your appointment prior to March 30, the device is likely to be 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 the devices and installation service are at no charge to you.
MAY I SWITCH MY DEVICE TYPE?
Yes. Energy Wise Rewards has been designed to meet your changing needs. Contact the Energy Wise Rewards Service Center at 1-866-353-5798 to request and schedule a device change.
HOW MANY CONSERVATION PERIODS CAN I EXPECT PER YEAR?
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 five or less events.
WHEN AND FOR HOW LONG WILL A CONSERVATION PERIOD LAST?
Peak Savings Days conservation periods typically occur on weekday afternoons and can last anywhere from three to six hours.
Keep in mind that the duration of conservation periods may 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 a Priority Peak Day is called by PJM (the Regional Transmission Operator for the Mid-Atlantic) for reliability reasons, it will last until the situation is resolved. Therefore, Pepco cannot state how long an event of this type may last.
WHAT CAUSES HIGH, OR PEAK, ELECTRICITY DEMAND?
Times of peak electricity demand occur when everyone uses a lot of electricity at the same time. This causes stresses on a limited energy supply. The frequency of critical peak demand periods has increased as the population and the use of electric appliances has grown, and both have grown tremendously in Maryland over the past 30 years. Energy Wise Rewards is just one way Pepco is managing the rising demand for electricity, to avert power outages while keeping electricity rates low, deferring the construction of high-cost power plants, and helping the environment by reducing emissions produced during summer months.
WILL ENERGY WISE REWARDS FOR BUSINESS AFFECT MY COMFORT LEVEL?
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 business may rise 1 to 3 degrees. Variables such as insulation, shaded windows, the use of ceiling fans, and the amount of foot traffic can also affect the temperature.
HOW WILL I KNOW WHEN AN ENERGY WISE REWARDS CONSERVATION PERIOD IS OCCURRING?
Check your web-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, OR 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. Essentially, Energy Wise Rewards program participants cannot opt out of Priority Peak Day conservation periods.
AM I PERMITTED TO OPT OUT OF A CONSERVATION PERIOD?
All customers are permitted two (2) opt outs from non-Priority Peak Days during the cooling season. Participants who wish to opt out will need to call our Energy Wise Rewards Service Center at 1-866-353-5798.
ARE THERE PENALTIES FOR WITHDRAWING FROM ENERGY WISE REWARDS?
Participants must remain in the program for 12 months after installation or a portion of their initial Installation Credit will be reversed. At this time, Pepco does not plan to remove the web-programmable thermostat or outdoor switch in the event of withdrawal. If you are interested in leaving Energy Wise Rewards, please call us 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 increases each summer, putting a strain on the power system. Participating in Energy Wise Rewards helps all of us to avoid paying for the construction of new power plants to operate only during times of very high electricity demand for a few hours per year.
HOW DOES ENERGY WISE REWARDS HELP MARYLAND?
Energy Wise Rewards is part of the EmPOWER Maryland initiative (http://energy.maryland.gov/facts/empower.html) to reduce energy consumption by 15% by the year 2015. Information about other Pepco energy saving programs can be found at www.pepco.com/saveenergy.
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 power plants 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?
By reducing electricity demand during a conservation period, Energy Wise Rewards avoids the need to produce 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. Many of these plants are powered by fossil fuels. Reducing the use of fossil fuels reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The Energy Wise Rewards approach also reduces the urgency in building additional power plants and stations, thereby preserving our natural environment.
ABOUT YOUR THERMOSTAT INSTALLATION
What is a web-programmable thermostat?
If my thermostat is Internet accessible, how do I know it is secure?
Why would I want Internet access for a programmable thermostat?
Does a business representative need to be available when the web-programmable thermostat is installed?
How long will the installation take?
When will the thermostat be installed?
What if there’s a problem?
What if there’s a problem with my existing equipment?
How can my web-programmable thermostat save 10% annually on my cooling and heating costs?
What businesses and equipment qualify for the Energy Wise Rewards program?
WHAT IS A WEB-PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT?
An Energy Wise Rewards web-programmable thermostat is a digital thermostat that allows you to adjust the temperature settings of your facility according to a preset schedule that you choose. This can be done either manually or through the Internet. This differs from other programmable thermostats you can buy and install in that it allows you to remotely adjust your business’s temperature settings from any computer virtually anywhere in the world.
During times of peak electricity demand, your Energy Wise Rewards web-programmable thermostat will receive a radio signal to initiate a conservation period. The radio signal operates on a unique frequency and will not interfere with any other wireless devices in your facility.
IF MY THERMOSTAT IS INTERNET ACCESSIBLE, HOW DO I KNOW IT IS SECURE?
Internet access to your Energy Wise Rewards thermostat is through the My Account portal on the Pepco website, with a secure password you select. All Pepco can do with your password is reset it if you forget it and verify you are the customer on the account. You are the only one with control over this feature, and access is shielded behind security measures designed to protect the confidential customer information of all two million of our customers.
WHY WOULD I WANT INTERNET ACCESS FOR A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT?
Once you access the website, you can change your thermostat settings no matter where you are, at any time of day. This feature may be particularly useful if you suddenly find you are going to be away for an extended period and want to change your settings, or you are going to return earlier than planned.
DOES A BUSINESS REPRESENTATIVE NEED TO BE AVAILABLE WHEN THE WEB-PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT IS INSTALLED?
Yes. Our technicians will install the thermostat inside your facility. First, call to schedule an appointment. During the installation appointment someone should be available to direct our technician to the thermostat(s) in your facility to install the new web-programmable one(s).
HOW LONG WILL THE INSTALLATION TAKE?
Removal of your old thermostat and installation of the new web-programmable one will take approximately an hour. However, our technician will spend as much time as needed to help you program your new thermostat, and answer any questions you may have about its operation or the Energy Wise Rewards program.
WHEN WILL THE THERMOSTAT BE INSTALLED?
Installation usually takes place within one month of your enrollment. However, you can schedule an installation any time that is most convenient for you, including Saturdays.
WHAT IF THERE’S A PROBLEM?
If you have a question about your thermostat installation or the Energy Wise Rewards program, or need technical assistance, just call us toll-free at 1-866-353-5798, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Emergency technicians are also available after-hours if you have a problem after 8 p.m., or on the weekend.
WHAT IF THERE’S 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 WEB-PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT SAVE 10% ANNUALLY ON MY COOLING AND HEATING COSTS?
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has studied the energy saving benefits of programmable thermostats. According to DOE, depending on usage patterns and how effectively you program the thermostat, it is possible to save as much as 10% on cooling and heating costs. This assumes the programmable thermostat is set back in the winter and set ahead in the summer during times the business is empty.
WHAT BUSINESSES AND EQUIPMENT QUALIFY FOR THE ENERGY WISE REWARDS PROGRAM?
To qualify for Energy Wise Rewards, your facility must have either a central air conditioning unit or heat pump in good operating condition. Businesses, community organizations, government and municipal offices, retailers, schools, restaurants, and congregations are eligible to participate, even if the organization does not receive an electric bill directly from Pepco.
The following equipment 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)
- Thermostats controlled by business alarm or business automation systems
If you have any questions about whether or not your facility qualifies, please contact us prior to enrollment at 1-866-353-5798.
ABOUT YOUR OUTDOOR SWITCH INSTALLATION
WHAT IS AN OUTDOOR SWITCH?
An outdoor switch is a device that is connected near your exterior air conditioning unit. It receives a radio signal from Pepco during conservation periods to turn off your air conditioning compressor (not the whole A/C system) each half hour during selected summer days.
DO I NEED TO BE AVAILABLE WHEN THE OUTDOOR SWITCH IS INSTALLED?
The outdoor switch will be installed near your outside air conditioning unit, so it is not necessary for you to be available at that time as long as the technician can get to the unit without interference from such obstacles as a locked fence, security access requirements, plant overgrowth, or a dog. Just be sure your outdoor air conditioning unit and electrical safety box are accessible to our technicians.
I HAVE AN AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM/HEAT PUMP THAT WAS INSTALLED SOME TIME AGO – IS IT TOO OLD TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS PROGRAM?
Our technician will assess the condition of your unit(s) to determine whether a device can be installed. If there are problems that can be repaired or remedied, and that allow you to participate, the technician will explain the situation and your options, and you will be able to participate once the system repairs are completed by your HVAC contractor. (Our technicians are not allowed to make repairs for you.) If there are fundamental or major problems with your system, which may include you having one of a few particular brands/models of systems that are inherently incompatible with the Energy Wise Rewards equipment, you will also be notified of the situation, and if any options exist for you to participate.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE EQUIPMENT THAT IS REMOVED?
The contractor installing the new Energy Wise Rewards web-programmable thermostat will collect the old thermostat(s) and associated equipment for recycling and proper disposal. Many non-digital thermostats contain mercury, so it is best to safely remove the old equipment, and recycle and dispose of unusable components.