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ENERGY DETOUR Continued from page 6

hot and humid summer weekday afternoon or on an extremely frigid winter morning.

As a result, when power is required during demand peaks, electric co-ops—and by extension, members—pay a steep toll.

Detours Save Money

Up to 75 percent of your monthly electric bill goes directly to pur- chase power—the rest must be stretched to cover bucket trucks, poles and wire, right-of-way trimming, payroll, and other operating expenses. The easiest way to cut power costs is to use less energy—stay off the road—during rush hour. Some co-ops ask members to stop using energy when electricity use surges, an effort commonly called “Beat the Peak.” “When we started Beat the Peak, everybody told us, ‘It won’t work, you can’t measure it, you can’t sustain it,’” recalls Bill Andrew, CEO of Dela- ware Electric Cooperative. “Today more than 35,000 of our members par- ticipate, and 10 percent of the co-ops in the United States have launched similar programs. That’s pretty good!” With the help of in-home peak indicators and aggressive communica- tion efforts (text alerts, radio ads, e-mails, social media), the Greenwood, Del.–based co-op cut 50 MW off its 345 MW summer peak. In El Dorado, Kan., Butler Rural Electric Cooperative faced a 9 percent rate increase. To keep electric bills affordable, the co-op provides incentives for cutting energy use at peak times. “By allowing our members to decide when to use electricity, they gained more power over their electric bills,” explains Travis Griffi n, Butler’s mem- ber services and public-relations representative. “After a year, we expe ri- enced only a 5 percent rate increase, because members began shifting when they did certain chores, like washing clothes and running the dishwasher, to off-peak times.”

Managing Traffi c Some electric co-ops take peak shaving a step further by installing load control equipment. Devices attached to electric water heaters, air condi- tioners and other special appliances can cut demand by briefl y switching them off—an action generally unnoticed by the homeowners who volun- teer to take part.

Ask Willie!

If you have a question for Willie, send it to:, ATTN: Willie.

Dear Willie,

We feel like our house has the fl u. We try to cool it off; it gets hot. We try to keep it warm; it gets cold. What are some cost-effi cient ways for us to balance the temperatures in our home?

—Jamal Dear Jamal,

Heating ducts are often located under win- dows. This positions them closer to hot or cold outside walls and removes space for wall insu- lation. If this is the case for you, it may be time to take your home’s temperature. Hold a ther- mometer in the register outlet airfl ow in each room to see if you are gaining or losing heat. For a quick fi x, wrap insulation around your ducts. This solution will only work for hori- zontal ducts. Where the duct runs vertically, there is not much you can do other than open the wall and install insulated ducts. If air is not circulating, check your ducts’ length. Longer ducts have more joints. The more joints you have, the higher the risk of leaks. To locate the

8 OKLAHOMA LIVING diesel fuel “Our primary goal is to reduce peak demand and delay construction of new

power plants,” explains Stephanie Cornett, senior analyst for East Kentucky Power Cooperative’s demand-side management effort called “SimpleSaver.” The Winchester, Ky.–based generation and transmission co-op and its 16 distribu- tion members offer incentives to consumers who let them manage air condition- ers and electric water heaters during peak demand. “Comfort level is a common concern,” admits Cornett. “I tell participants,

‘You should experience no more than two degrees difference in your home, if that much.’ Our cycling strategies are frequent, with very brief on and off times. Most people never notice a change.” But the savings on electric bills add up. “Our 2009 research summed it up

simply: folks want to lower their electric bills,” notes Cornett. “For some, a bill credit is a big draw. Others want to support the environment. The bottom line is most members want to help their local co-op cope with rising costs.” In Delaware, electric bill savings have been hard to miss. “We lowered our wholesale power costs by $10 million in 2009 and another $1.5 million in 2010,” Andrews reports. “We encourage, educate and inform our members about the role they play in Beat the Peak. Our members want to help. If you show people what they can accomplish, they show up big time.”

Help Us Keep Your Electric Bill Affordable Your local electric cooperative remains committed to providing you with af- fordable power, but there are some costs we simply can’t control. Our energy- effi ciency programs help you to manage your energy use. Learn more at www. OL

leaks, hang a thread from a stick and hold it near all the joints. Seal these leaks with black Gorilla or aluminum foil duct tape or duct joint sealing compound. Resist the temptation to use cheap gray duct tape. It will likely come loose in a year or two.

Don’t forget to open the register baf-

fl es and move any furniture that could be blocking your vents. If all else fails for the sum- mer, you could consider installing insulated shades on south-facing windows or purchas- ing a duct booster fan. OL

Brightly yours, Willie

Types of power plants and fuels used:

Baseload: Large, effi cient generating stations that provide enough dependable electric power at a low cost to meet the minimum level of electricity needed at any given time. They do not start or stop quickly, and instead are run around the clock. Coal, nuclear, hydro, and large natural-gas-fi red power plants; in some regions biomass and geo- thermal power stations

Intermediate Load: These plants handle sharp increases in demand, fi lling the gap between baseload plants and peaking plants. Also known as load-following plants, these facilities are larger and therefore more effi cient than peaking plants. Natural gas, coal

Peak Load: Expensive and small, these plants can start generating power quickly during periods when electricity consumption reaches its highest point. Natural gas,

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