FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
PEPCO ENERGY WISE REWARDS PROGRAM QUESTIONS
Will I receive all of the bill credits in the same calendar year?
Are there any hidden costs or fees with this program?
Can I switch my participation level after signing up for Energy Wise Rewards?
May I switch my device type?
How often will the program be activated?
When and for how long will a conservation period last?
Will Energy Wise Rewards affect my comfort level?
How will I know when an Energy Wise Rewards conservation period is occurring?
Am I permitted to “opt out” of a conservation period?
Can an emergency event (otherwise known as “Priority Peak Day”) occur outside of the months of the cooling season?
Am I permitted to “opt out” of a conservation period?
WHY ENERGY WISE REWARDS? WHY NOW?
As the Pepco region continues to grow, and as more and more residents acquire large refrigerators, freezers, central air conditioners, and other energy-hungry appliances, the demand for energy increases, straining existing supply. Energy Wise Rewards offers leading-edge technology to residents and businesses as part of a voluntary program designed to manage energy during periods of highest demand, reduce the need to build costly power plants, and avert unanticipated energy shortages and power interruptions before they occur.
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 or heat pump. On selected days from June through October (Peak Savings Days), we’ll automatically cycle participating central air conditioners and heat pumps to help balance the region’s demand for electricity. These events are known as “conservation periods”. The more participants 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 cooling unit’s 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.
WHAT CHOICES ARE AVAILABLE TO ME WHEN I JOIN ENERGY WISE REWARDS?
To enroll in Energy Wise Rewards, you’ll be invited to select (1) the technological device we will install for your participation, and (2) the degree of cycling to which you can comfortably commit and its financial compensation.
- Technology – Choose installation of either an indoor programmable thermostat or an outdoor switch.
- Cycling Level & Incentives – Choose 50%, 75%, or 100% cycling.
- 50% cycling – Your compressor will run half the time it did during the hour prior to the conservation period. Receive a $40 installation credit, plus $40 in bill credits prorated for each month of the cooling season for June through October. During the period, the temperature in a typical home may increase 1 to 3 degrees.
- 75% cycling – Your compressor will run 25% of the time it did during the hour prior to the conservation period. Receive a $60 installation credit, plus $60 in bill credits prorated for each month of the cooling season for June through October. During the period, the temperature in a typical home may increase 2 to 4 degrees.
- 100% cycling – Your compressor will not run at all during the conservation period. Receive an $80 installation credit, plus $80 in bill credits prorated for each month of the cooling season for June through October. During the period, the temperature in a typical home may increase 4 to 7 degrees.This level of participation is only recommended to those who have no one home during the day. It is not recommended to households that have members with cardiac or respiratory conditions.
HOW WILL I RECEIVE MY INSTALLATION CREDIT AND ANNUAL BILL CREDIT?
You will receive your installation credit for each device installed in full as a bill reduction within two billing cycles of the installation of your Energy Wise Rewards device(s). Annual bill credits will appear for each device installed as a prorated line item savings on your monthly bills for June through October. For example, if you sign up for 50% cycling and your selected device is installed before you are billed in June, you will receive your $40 installation credit as a bill reduction plus $8 per month in bill credits for June through October.
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 cannot 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 cannot state how long an event of this type may last.
WHAT CAUSES “TIMES OF PEAK ELECTRICITY DEMAND”?
Times of peak electricity demand occur when everyone uses a lot of electricity at the same time, creating 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 on hot, humid days.
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 foot traffic 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 “SAVE” for the duration of the period.
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 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 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 reaches higher and higher peaks in the 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 built primarily to operate only during times of very high electricity demand for a handful of hours per year.
HOW DOES ENERGY WISE REWARDS HELP MARYLAND?
Energy Wise Rewards is part of the EmPOWER Maryland initiative to reduce energy consumption by 15% by the year 2015. Information for 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 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
If my thermostat is Internet accessible, how do I know a hacker or Pepco won’t change the settings on me?
Why would I want Internet access?
Do I need to be home when the 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 programmable thermostat save 10% annually on my cooling and heating costs?
I am on the Pepco system as having a medical condition. Am I able to participate?
What residences 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 home according to a preset schedule that you choose. This can be done either manually or through an Internet connection. This differs from other programmable thermostats you can buy and install, in that it allows you to remotely adjust your home 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 home.
IF MY THERMOSTAT IS INTERNET ACCESSIBLE, HOW DO I KNOW A HACKER OR PEPCO WON’T CHANGE THE SETTINGS ON ME?
Internet access to your Energy Wise Rewards thermostat is through a webpage, with a secure password you select and only you know. 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?
Once you access the Internet web page, 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.
DO I NEED TO BE HOME WHEN THE PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT IS INSTALLED?
Yes. Our technicians will custom install the thermostat inside your home. You must first call to schedule an appointment, then be available to allow our technician entry to your home to perform the installation.
HOW LONG WILL THE INSTALLATION TAKE?
Installation of the new thermostat and removal of your old thermostat will take approximately an hour. However, our technician will spend as much time as needed, helping you program your new thermostat, and answering any questions you may have about its operation or the Energy Wise Rewards program.
WHEN WILL THE THERMOSTAT BE INSTALLED?
Generally, installation takes place within one month of your enrollment, though 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 energy device installation or about the program, just call us toll-free at 1-866-353-5798, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for prompt customer service and technical assistance. If there is an issue after 8 p.m., an after-hours technician is available for emergency calls.
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 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.
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 to turn off your air conditioning compressor (not the whole A/C system), for a period defined by your chosen participation level, 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 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) when he arrives onsite for device installation. 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 what options, if any, exist for you to participate.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE EQUIPMENT THAT IS REMOVED?
If you currently have a load control device from any prior load management plan (e.g., Kilowatchers), we will remove it, and recycle and dispose of unusable components.
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.
Also, while the Energy Wise Rewards programmable thermostat offers you the ease of communicating with your thermostat through the Internet, all participants can enjoy the savings by scheduling preset temperatures manually.
Fact: You – and only you – have control of your Internet connection. Pepco only sends a unique radio signal to your thermostat to cycle your A/C compressor during a conservation period. It will not interfere with your Internet, your TV, your cellphone, or even your AM/FM radio connection, as all of these devices operate on FCC-licensed frequencies completely different from the frequency Energy Wise Rewards uses.
Fiction: “Energy Wise Rewards actually saves electricity for Pepco during the conservation periods.”
Fact: Energy Wise Rewards actually balances the demand for electricity during conservation periods with non-peak periods. Depending on how effectively you maintain the cool air in your space during such periods with proper insulation, shaded windows, lowered lighting, etc., and how much you call on electricity to drive your air conditioning to lower the temperature when a conservation period ends, you may significantly affect your overall energy consumption for the day.
Keep in mind that the primary purpose of the program is to balance the demand for electricity to avert power outages and reduce the need for costly infrastructure additions. Any energy conservation that you can achieve by reducing personal demand will be a much-appreciated bonus.
Fiction: “But you claim that, by joining Energy Wise Rewards, I can save up to 10% on my cooling and heating costs throughout the year.”
Fact: The installation of an Energy Wise Rewards programmable thermostat gives you an effective instrument for reducing personal energy demand, provided it is used properly and diligently. It allows for significant reductions in energy use when energy is not needed, and quick increases when it is needed. This will not only create savings for you, but, according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, it can also mean energy savings of up to 10% per year for your household. However, if you don’t use the thermostat’s features to achieve these savings, you won’t see this level of savings.
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.