ComEd AC cycling: Anyone do this?
July 15, 2013 2:34 PM   Subscribe

I noticed that my electricity provider, ComEd, offers an annual $40 credit if you allow them the option of cycling your central air conditioning off and on. Does anyone have any experience with this program? My house is well insulated and we keep the temperature set pretty high with a programmable thermostat, so our AC cycles on its own. I know that constant cycling is bad for the compressor, so if this has the potential to do damage, I'll skip it, but if this is an easy way to save 40 bucks, hey, why not.
posted by ndg to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This sort of thing was mistakenly mentioned during the SmartMeter thread. It sounds like you should carefully read the terms and conditions.
posted by zamboni at 2:46 PM on July 15, 2013

My city utility has a similar program, and we are enrolled. I would read the terms of the contract carefully, but in our case it has not been a big deal.

The option you seem to be looking at - the 100% option - would actually turn your compressor off entirely for 3-hour blocks. I'm going to guess they'd usually do this during the hottest part of the day from 4ish to 7ish. Our plan is closer to the 50% plan on that website, and our temperature can rise up to 3 degrees while they are turning off our compressor, so consider if coming home to a house where the AC hasn't been running for an hours, and won't run for another two hours, is an acceptable option for you.
posted by muddgirl at 3:18 PM on July 15, 2013

I wouldn't do it for those low reimbursements they are offering. (Although on the other hand, if you aren't home during the day anyway, who cares? Like you say, easy $40.)

But either of those options aren't going to harm the compressor. Short cycling isn't really harmful until it starts to be once every couple of minutes or shorter.
posted by gjc at 3:24 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I should have said "up to three hour blocks."
posted by muddgirl at 3:33 PM on July 15, 2013

I've had Toronto Hydro's equivalent, and I jumped at it even if it was only a once-off $75 payment. This control has huge value to the utility, as it can manage AC demand at the very peak, when power prices are expensive, and the next marginal GWh involves spinning up some remote (inefficient, polluting) peaker plant. It will also save you an additional small amount in reduced power usage, but unless you're paying full market, you'll barely notice this.

(yes, I'm a bit of a CDM nerd.)
posted by scruss at 4:01 PM on July 15, 2013

Best answer: I would avoid this option and go with the ComEd RRTP Program instead.

RRTP is a program where ComEd installs a recording meter (like a smart meter, but no wireless connection) on your house. You pay a varying rate by the hour based on demand. The price is viewable at any time on the RRTP dashboard. You can also get emails when prices are going above a specified range.

With some extra diligence and thermostat programming, I've saved $550 (20%) on my bills over the past 4 years. (RRTP sends you emails with savings calculations) And we like our house cool. I have friends that have saved more than this.

RRTP also offers the option to have your A/C compressor cycled off when the price starts to spike up. The program guide says that the gizmo will turn the compressor off for 15 minutes at a time for 2 hours during the high-demand periods. That seems easier to work with than 3 hours of complete off.

I chose not to use the LoadGuard thing and just text my wife to turn the temperature up when the price alerts start to come in. That's been working just fine.

We also use our programmable thermostat to chill the house down during the early morning when RRTP prices are extremely low or, sometimes, almost zero. Precooling the house can keep our home pretty comfortable for most of the morning and lunch hour before the A/C really needs to kick in.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:44 PM on July 15, 2013

« Older I'm Shipping up to Boston   |   how to plan a San Fran wedding in 30 days or less Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.