Updated: Mar 13
We all head to the thermostat when record-setting heat sets in, but some Xcel Energy customers in Colorado are even more heated after finding the utility company had locked their thermostat settings. It was the first time the company had even employed its load management program, which is meant to relieve strain on the local energy grids during extreme demands, and it may not be be last.
According to Denver7, Xcel said customers on these load management programs voluntarily sign up to receive incentives. They also need to be aware that Xcel can have some control of their air conditioning.
"We've had a lot of hot summer this summer, and we're going to see more opportunities for these programs to be used, I think, as heat continues, so I think I think it's something to keep in mind," Emmett Romine, Xcel's vice president of customer solutions and innovation, told Denver 7. "It's possible we'll see some additional events if the heat continues to rise."
Xcel says only customers who are enrolled in the "AC Rewards" load management incentive program were affected, and customers can opt-out at anytime. The program offers customers a one-time $100 rebate, and an additional $25 rebate for every year they are enrolled. But as reported by Denver7 (and a number of other outlets) many customers say they never signed up for the program to begin with. And while customers who are enrolled are able to opt-out of the program "at any time," Xcel says system emergencies may cause a control event that cannot be overridden.
So, we've learned that Xcel Energy may be able to lock your thermostat — whether you've consented (or not?) — and that it may do so again, with or without advanced notice. Seems like a pretty one-sided deal. But what if you didn't need to rely so much on AC to get through record-setting summer heat in the first place?
Xcel can take control of your AC system by way of the thermostat settings, but whole house fans, evaporative coolers and other appliances not connected to your thermostat are beyond its reach, leaving you with total control.
When used in the morning and evenings — when the air is cooler outside than it is inside — whole house fans can maintain cooler temperatures even better than AC. In a tri-level Aurora townhome, we found home temperature averaging 20-degrees BELOW the outdoor high, compared to a mere 5-degree difference when the same spaced was cooled solely by AC.
That is a HUGE difference, especially when temperatures spike. Not only is the whole house fan reducing the need for AC all together (and lowering home energy costs at the same time) these systems run independently from your thermostat-controlled HVAC system, free from Xcel's reach.
Colorado Home Cooling is Colorado's top-rated whole house fan expert, offering unmatched customer service, quality and craftsmanship since 2003!