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This is Part 2 of a 4-Part Article about how to reduce electricity peak-demand.  While the article focuses on Ice-Assisted A/C, we address other ways to reduce electricity peak-demand with the air conditioner you have now.

Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C in Plano, Texas provides maintenance & repairs for all brands of Central A/C, Gas & Electric Furnace, and Heat Pumps.  Additionally we sell and install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar (same company as American Standard) and Coleman HVAC (same company as York HVAC).

Al’s also provides full service plumbing maintenance, repairs and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Al’s sells and installs Rheem Profressional Series gas & electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.

Call Al’s today to discuss any concerns or problems you have with your HVAC System or Plumbing.  We will arrange an appointment at your convenience, and offer 24/7 Emergency Service.

 

Ice-Assisted Air Conditioning – Coming Soon For Homes! — Part 2 of 3

To Read Part 1 (of 4) Of Our Ice-Assisted A/C Article, Click Here: AlsPlumbing.com Ice-Assisted A/C Part 1 of 4

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In 2018, Texas’ Summer Electricity Peak-Demand Could Exceed 

ERCOT’S Power Grid’s Electricity-Generating Capacity

Does it seem that brown-out’s and blackout’s are unlikely to happen in Texas?  The Electricity Reliability Council Of Texas (ERCOT) predicts the peak 2018 Texas Electricity Peak-Demand To Be 91% Of Its Power Generation Capability (details below).  This is based on typical summer temperatures.  If the summer of 2018 is hotter than expected, the power grid may exceed its ability to meet demand and will have to buy electricity from nearby (interconnected) Power Grids if it’s available.

On March 1, 2018 ERCOT Released Its Preliminary Seasonal Assessment For Summer 2018:

  • Texas’ current Power Grid’s generating capacity — 77,658 megawatts (one megawatt powers about 200 Texas homes on a summer day)
  • ERCOT has Emergency Procedures that can produce an additional another 2,300 megawatts (3% of the total generation capacity).
  • The 2018 assessment forecasts electricity peak-demand at a new record breaking demand of  72,974 megawatts — 91% of Texas’ Power-Grid’s generating capacity.  *4
  • Texas’ Power Grid electricity-generating capacity (reserve margin) is only 9.3% higher than projected electricity peak-demand during summer.   That is well below the 13.75% minimum cushion preferred by ERCOT, and a far less than an earlier 2018 estimate of 18.9%.  *4
  • Texas can buy electricity from other (interconnected) Power Grids if they have excess electricity available.
  • Texas’ reserve margin is expected to increase to 11.7% by the summer of 2019 as more projects go online.
  • ERCOT expects peak demand in Texas to increase annually by + 1.7% during the next decade.

 

  • In cooler months, residential = 27% of ERCOT’s total electricity usage.  *5
  • During summer peak-demand hours, residential = 51% of total electricity usage.  *5
  • In August 2016, an electricity peak-demand summer record occurred — 71,110 megawatts.
  • In January of 2018, Texas set a new winter electricity peak-demand record for electricity use — 65,731 megawatts.  This demonstrates the number of Texas homes that have electric heat.
  • Note: The National Weather Service predicts a 50-60% probability for April-Sept 2018 temperatures to be above normal for the South-Central Plains.

With only a 50-60% prediction of a warmer than seasonal summer in Texas, there’s a lot of room for temps to rise higher than expected.  If that should occur, electricity peak-demand could meet or exceed Texas’ Power-Grid electricity-generating capacity.  If no electricity is available from other Power Grids, Texas’ Power-Grid would have to resort to Rolling-Blackouts.

*4 Source: https://www.dallasnews.com/business/energy/2017/12/18/texas-electricity-bills-could-increase-next-summer-asshrinking-supply-meets-record-use

*5 Source: http://files.brattle.com/files/6566_direct_load_control_of_residential_air_conditioners_in_texas_faruqui_puct_oct_25_2012.pdf

 

If Electricity Supply Can’t Meet Demand, There Are 2 Immediate Solutions

image reads blackout and brownout

Brown Outs  

During electricity peak-demand, as an emergency response a Power Grid will take immediate action to restore electricity demand and supply.  If it does not balance electricity supply & demand, the system will fail completely (black out).  Typically a utility will decrease system voltage by 10-25% for a short period of time.     

How To Spot A Brownout During An Electricity Peak-Demand Event:

  • During a brownout, both LED and incandescent lighting will dim and flicker (see photo just above).  Non-Dimmable Fluorescent bulbs will flicker.

Damage That Can Occur During A Brownout:

  • The irregular power supply during a brownout can damage computers and electronic devices because they overheat.
  • NOTE:  Today’s air conditioners, furnaces, and major appliances have sensitive electronic “control boards”.  A brown-out / under-voltage condition can have expensive repercussions, such as device failures.
  • A sustained brownout / low-voltage event can damage any electric motor that is running because they overheat.  This includes; air conditioners, refrigerators, washers and dryers — anything with a motor.

Rolling Black Outs  

During a period when electricity peak-demand exceeds supply, sections of the Power-Grid are deliberately turned off.  If electricity demand will exceed available supply for more than a short period of time, Rolling Blackouts must occur to avoid a failure & blackout of the entire power grid.  Selected areas will have their electricity turned off for a scheduled period of time.  As power is turned back on to a blacked-out areas, power is turned off to other areas, until the electricity supply can once again meets total demand.

Rolling blackouts typically occur with at least some advance warning and last for a fixed length of time.  Rolling blackouts are an emergency measure taken to relieve stress on the Power-Grid, and stop it from failing completely.   They are used as a means of coping with extended periods of peak electricity demand that cannot be met with existing electricity supply.  

  • Any blackout (planned or unplanned) can damage electrical equipment with power connected when electricity is restored.  This is because a Power Surge occurs when power is restored.  One moment there is no electricity, then the circuit is renergized, resulting in a power surge.   During a Power Surge, there’s a brief but dramatic boost in the electricity voltage rate that, in effect, brings too much electricity (for a moment).

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Shown: Metro Area During Rolling Black Outs

A Far More Acceptable Solution To BrownOuts Or Rolling BlackOuts

Is Electricity “Demand Response” During Periods Of Peak Demand

  • In DFW’s cooler months, residential electricity demand = 27% of ERCOT’s total electricity usage.  *5
  • During summer peak-demand hours, residential electricity demand nearly doubles to 51% of total electricity usage.  *5
  • Demand Response (DR) is when consumers reduce their electricity usage (below their normal consumption patterns) during periods of peak electricity demand.
  • Demand Response Incentivises Customers To Alter Their:
  • Amount Of Immediate Demand (raising thermostat to reduce a/c run times.  Turning off electric dryer and oven)
  • Timing Of Electricity Use (such as doing laundry or baking during early morning or after 7 p.m.)

*5 Source: http://files.brattle.com/files/6566_direct_load_control_of_residential_air_conditioners_in_texas_faruqui_puct_oct_25_2012.pdf

Reliant Energy’s Residential Demand-Response Programreliant energy logo

“Demand response has been part of the Texas market with commercial & industrial customers for years.  It is just now gaining traction in the residential sector.  Air conditioning from residential and small commercial users “can run anywhere from 50% — 70%  t of the total electricity demand in Texas.” according to Marita Mirzatuny with The Environmental Defense Fund in Texas.

“Our electricity demand problems in Texas are almost entirely due to air conditioning in the afternoons on weekdays during summer,” said Micheal Webber,  Deputy Director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas.  “During the entire year, we have an excess of electricity generating-capacity, except for periods of a few hours each year.”

 

Reliant Energy Degrees Of Difference With Nest Program

Click Here To Go Directly To Reliant’s Information About Degrees Of Difference Program.  Reliant.com Degrees Of Difference Program

The Reliant Degrees of Difference with Nest programs incentivizes customers to conserve electricity when electricity demand is at peak, known as “energy rush hours.” Reliant rewards participants with credits on their bills.

  • Customers signing up for the Degrees of Difference with Nest Thermostat Program must have a Nest thermostat and an active Nest account.  Any Reliant customer with a smart meter can sign up for the Degrees of Difference program, regardless of their current Reliant electricity plan.
  • Degrees of Difference alerts you about upcoming periods of anticipated high electricity demand.  During these high demand hours, you raise your thermostat setting and delay high electricity usage activities such as; running dishwasher, laundry, oven or pool pump.
  • Degrees of Difference gives participants bill credits for making changes to reduce electricity usage during a peak demand period.  Participants receive a bill credit of 6 cents per kWh for using less electricity than normal during the specified reduction periods.*
  • Results from a pilot program conducted showed a reduction of electricity consumption by about 33% from active participants.
  • Reliant estimates if 325,000 residential customers reduce their usage by 33% in a high-demand period, it would save enough electricity to power 100,000 homes.
  • As compared, ERCOT estimates that 1 MegaWatt is enough electricity to power 200 homes in Texas on a hot summer day.

Source: https://www.reliant.com/en/residential/save-energy/energy-saving-solutions/earn-bill-credits.jsp

 

Amarillo, TX Has An Optional Program To Automatically Cycle Residential A/C On & Off During Peak Demand

In Amarillo, TX — Xcel Energy has been installing what they refer to as “saver switches.” The switch is mounted inside a box that’s connected to your A/C unit. When usage hits peak levels,  the company has the ability to activate a switch that cuts back on the amount of time your central air runs.

“We send out a signal to the box and it cycles the compressor on the air conditioner in 15 to 20 minute intervals, to keep the compressor from constantly running,” Wes Reeves with Xcel Energy explained. “I know in Minnesota where the program started, they have gotten up to the point where they are saving more than 300 megawatts. That’s actually the size of a power plant.”

Xcel gives a $50 bill credit per year to customers who agree to have the optional box installed. Since the program launched, more than 500,000 customers across the nation have signed up.  Xcel Energy installs boxes for only those customers who choose to “opt in” for the service bill credit.  There is no contract or commitment associated with the box.  All the customer must do is call Xcel Energy to schedule a time for a certified technician to come out.

Source: http://www.newschannel10.com/story/19185280/newschannel-10-investigates-xcel-energy-savor-switch-boxes

ExCel’s website reads “On a few hot summer days a year, Xcel Energy may activate the Saver’s Switch. The switch cycles your air conditioner off and on, generally at 15-to-20 minute intervals. However, the furnace blower fan stays on to circulate already-cooled air throughout your home.   Most customers don’t even notice when Saver’s Switch is activated. On control days, Saver’s Switch is typically activated between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Note: Amarillo is not within ERCOT’s service area.  This program is not currently available to ERCOT customers as of 2018.

 

What You Can Do To Reduce The Chance Of Brown-Outs Or Rolling-Blackouts In Texas

Until the day you can install a “Saver’s Switch” or buy Residential Ice-Assisted Air Conditioning, the best way to help reduce the chance of brown-outs or rolling blackouts is to temporarily reduce usage of high-demand electrical devices during periods of peak electricity demand.

It’s common for electricity providers to notify local news outlets on days when peak demand is likely to occur.  This prompts the media to encourage consumers to reduce usage during peak demand hours.  Peak demand in Texas occurs on weekdays during the hours of 3 to 7 pm.

  • You don’t need to turn your a/c off.  Set it to a warmer setting during the peak-demand period.
  • Delay laundry if you have an electric water heater, and / or electric dryer. 
  • Delay baking until after 7 p.m or during the morning hours.
  • Also keep in mind that baking and laundry add additional heat to the home, causing the a/c to run longer and harder.

 

OnCor Customers Can Receive Rebates To Help Pay For Energy-Saving Upgrades 

See Full Details at: TakeALoadOffTexas.com

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What is the Home Energy Efficiency Program?

Oncor provides incentives to participating service providers who implement energy saving projects, such as insulation, and heating and cooling upgrades.

HOME ENERGY EFFICIENCY

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Is your home properly insulated? If not, find comfort in available incentives for attic, wall or floor insulation, caulking, and weather-stripping. You’ll keep your home’s heating and cooling costs down and temps just right.

image of central a/c outdoor unit

Heating and cooling systems leak around 20 percent of circulated air. Earn up to $3,000 incentives to significantly reduce your costs for a new high efficiency A/C unit 16 SEER or greater. More cooling or heating for less money and energy.

 

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Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C in Plano, Texas provides maintenance & repairs for all brands of Central A/C, Gas & Electric Furnace, and Heat Pumps.  Additionally we sell and install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar (same company as American Standard) and Coleman HVAC (same company as York HVAC).

Al’s also provides full service plumbing maintenance, repairs and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Al’s sells and installs Rheem Profressional Series gas & electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.

Call Al’s today to discuss any concerns or problems you have with your HVAC System or Plumbing.  We will arrange an appointment at your convenience, and offer 24/7 Emergency Service.