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peaksaver - FAQ
peaksaver
  1. Tell me about the peaksaver® program?
  2. Who can enrol in the peaksaver program?
  3. How does the program work?
  4. When can peaksaver be activated?
  5. What is the difference between the devices that may be installed when I enrol in peaksaver?
  6. Is there an incentive for participating?
  7. Will it cost me anything to participate?
  8. As one household, is it really possible to make a difference by participating?
  9. What if I don't own the house? Can I still enrol?
  10. Am I eligible if I live in a town home?
  11. Will I notice a change in the comfort of my home?
  12. Will there be a power surge when it comes back on?
  13. Businesses must use much more electricity than residential customers. Why are regular homeowners asked to take these measures?
  14. Do I have to participate?
  15. Will you have access to any other systems in my house? Will you be able to control my whole house?
  16. Do I have to be home when this is installed?
  17. I'm not comfortable with strangers in my house. How will I know if the people who arrive are legitimate?
  18. What if they break my system? Will they pay to fix it?
  19. What does the environment have to do with it?
  20. Why do the OPA and my electric utility have this program anyway?
  21. Which of my home appliances are eligible for peaksaver? Who chooses this?
  22. How do I request that my equipment not be controlled for a particular date?
  23. If I am unhappy with peaksaver, can I stop being part of the program?
  24. What happens if I'm using an appliance during the time it will be shut off?
  25. Do I have to adjust my thermostat or change any other settings?
  26. Who do I call when I have questions or problems?
  27. If I only have a room air conditioner can I still participate in the program?
  28. I already have a high-efficiency central air conditioning system – should I bother participating in this program?
  29. Tell me about the other programs to save electricity that are available to homeowners now?

Tell me about the peaksaver® program.
During hot summer weekdays, when central air conditioners are running at their maximum, the demand for electricity is at its highest.  These times are know as ‘peak demand’.  If you have a central air conditioner (CAC), you can help the province to manage this peak demand by enrolling in peaksaver.  It’s easy and it’s free!  Your participating electric utility will install the necessary device (either a thermostat or switch) enabling your CAC to receive a signal that will cycle it down which may increase your home’s temperature by only 1° or 2°C for short periods of time.  The adjustment will only occur Monday to Friday between 1:00 to 10:00pm but most likely between 1:00 and 6:00 p.m. and never on weekends or holidays,

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Who can enrol in the peaksaver program?
Any residential customer of a participating electric utility with central air conditioning is eligible for the peaksaver program.
  • Your electric utility must be participating in peaksaver.
  • You must have an account with a participating electric utility.
  • You must be a homeowner in a single-family dwelling with central air conditioning (CAC), OR
  • You must be renting or leasing a single-family dwelling with CAC and have approval from your landlord to participate.
    Additionally, if you meet the above criteria AND have an electric water heater, you may choose to have it cycled down for short periods of time along with your CAC (depending on your electric utility).

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How does the program work?
Once you are enrolled in peaksaver and the device (either a thermostat or switch) is installed at your home, it can be remotely activated by your participating electric utility to slightly reduce your CAC’s electricity demand automatically. This won’t sacrifice your control or the comfort of your home. Activations would only occur:'
  • on those occasional steamy summer days when the electricity system can be stretched to its limit and electricity consumption is at its highest.
  • on weekdays (Monday through Friday) from May 1 to September 30. Never on weekends or holidays.
  • for a maximum of ten activations during the summer and only for a total of four hours during any one activation. As an example; in 2008, the peaksaver program was activated only five times.

    • your system’s fan will continue to operate so that there is only a 1 or 2° change in temperature of your home.
    • you can always opt out in advance of a specified date by contacting your participating electric utility.

Most participants note that they do not even feel a change in the temperature of their home.

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When can peaksaver be activated?
On those occasional steamy summer weekdays (Monday through Friday), between 1:00p.m. to 10:00p.m. from May 1 to September 30. Most activations are likely to occur between 1p.m. - 6p.m. Never on weekends or holidays.
for a maximum of ten activations during the summer and only for a total of four hours during any one activation. As an example; in 2008, the peaksaver program was activated only five times.

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What is the difference betwen the devices that may be installed when I enrol in peaksaver?
Based on the technology your participating electric utility has acquired for their consumers, they will install one of two devices in your home:

  • Switch: is installed on your CACs compressor (which is located outside).
  • Thermostat: this programmable thermostat will replace your current thermostat.  You can control this thermostat over the web.  This would enable you to turn off your CAC when you are at work and turn it on so that your home is comfortable when you arrive.

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Is there an incentive for participating?
By participating in the program you’ll be joining over 170,000 other Ontarians who are doing their part to reduce the strain on the electricity system.  At the same time, you are doing something important for your community and the environment. Once you’ve enrolled and had the device installed, we’ll be happy to recognize your participation with a $25 incentive. Depending on where you are and the technology available in your area, a programmable thermostat or a switch will be offered.

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Will it cost me anything to participate?
It won’t cost you a thing and there are no ongoing maintenance costs. Plus it’s easy to enrol!  As a ‘thank you' for enrolling and having the device installed, you’ll receive $25.

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As one household, is it really possible to make a difference by participating?
Absolutely! You’ll join the tens of thousands already participating in peaksaver and this will allow us to reduce the strain on the system during times of peak electricity demand. By joining you are making a significant contribution to conserving electricity and helping to improve your community and our environment.

When just two households participate in peaksaver, they can reduce enough electricity demand to meet the average electricity needs of one other household in Ontario during a time of peak demand.

We expect that the peaksaver program will reduce the strain on the electricity system during the summer on those occasionally hot summer days. This means there will be less need to purchase electricity from elsewhere and that saves everyone money by keeping electricity prices low.

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What if I don't own the house? Can I still enrol?
You certainly can. If you don’t own the property, just get permission from the owner/landlord to have the switch or thermostat installed.
 
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Am I eligible if I live in a town home?
If your home has a separate central air conditioning unit and you have an account with a participating electric utility, then you’re eligible to participate in the program.

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Will I notice a change in the comfort of my home?
This won’t sacrifice your control or the comfort of your home.  When you give your participating electric utility permission to send a signal to slightly adjust your CAC, you’re helping the electricity system during times of peak demand.  When activated, your CAC will continue to cool your home, however, in half-hour timeframes your CAC will be adjusted on and off.  For the first fifteen minutes it will continue to produce cool air and for the second fifteen minutes, the fan continues to run to circulate the cool air in your home.

  • These half-hour increments will last no longer than four hours at a time on any one day.
  • Most participants noted that they could not feel a difference in the temperature or comfort of their home when the activations occurred.
  • You can always opt out in advance of a specified date by contacting your participating electric utility.
  • The devices and installation are free and your participating electric utility is there to help you should you have any questions.
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Will there be a power surge when it comes back on?
No because the technology takes this into account.  The remotely-controlled devices reduce the electricity usage but don’t turn off your central air conditioner. As well, the central air conditioners participating in the program are adjusted at different times within each hour which also works to avoid a power surge.

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Businesses must use much more electricity than residential customers. Why are regular homeowners asked to take these measures?
Everyone can help reduce strain on the electricity system.  There is a peaksaver program that is aimed at small businesses who use less than 50kW.  If you are a small business owner click here to find out more. peaksaver is targeted at homes and small business but there are many conservation programs for large commercial properties and industry as well. For example, there is a program similar to peaksaver wherein companies sign contracts to reduce their electricity consumption during peak periods.

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Do I have to participate?
The program is entirely voluntary. We're confident that people will find it to be an easy way to help reduce the strain on our electricity system and benefit communities and the environment.

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Will you have access to any other systems in my house? Will you be able to control my whole house?
Absolutely not. We will not have access to any other system in your house. If you choose to participate in peaksaver, your participating electric utility will only have access to the central air conditioning and electric hot water heater (if available in your area).

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Do I have to be home when this is installed?
That will depend on your participating electric utility and the type of device they are installing to manage the program. Contact your electric utility for more information.

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I'm not comfortabe with strangers in my house. How will I know if the people who arrive are legitimate?
We can understand your concern for security. Rest assured that the installation will be done by qualified installers working on behalf of your participating electric utility. When the installers come to your door feel free to ask them for identification to show that they are working on behalf of your participating electric utility.

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What if they break my system? Will they pay to fix it?
The installation will be done by qualified installers working on behalf of your participating electric utility. They are well trained and will carry appropriate liability insurance.

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What does the environment have to do with it?
In periods where demand for electricity is very high, it becomes more likely that we will rely on gas and coal-fired plants to meet the shortfall. These plants release greenhouse gases and contribute to air pollution.

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Why do the OPA and my electric utility have this program anyway?
We are always looking for ways to help our customers and our province conserve electricity. Initiatives like peaksaver help everyone in the long run by reducing the strain on our electricity system. peaksaver will help to reduce the emissions caused by electricity generation.

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Which of my home appliances are eligible for peaksaver? Who chooses this?
You must have central air conditioning to participate. If you have a central air conditioning system some electric utilities also offer their customers the ability to include their electric water heater when enrolling.  Just check with your participating electric utility to be certain.

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How do I request that my equipment not be controlled for a particular date?
The program will only be activated Monday to Friday most likely between 1:00p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and between May 1st and September 30th.  Most activations are likely to occur between 1p.m. - 6p.m. never on weekends or holidays.
If you would like to opt out on a particular date, please contact your participating electric utility and you will be able to opt out for a particular day.  Electric utilities will require some advanced notice.

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If I am unhappy with peaksaver, can I stop being part of the program?
Yes, if for whatever reason you are not happy, please contact your electric utility to speak to a representative.

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What happens if I'm using an appliance during the time it will be shut off?
No it will not be shut off.  When you are enrolled in peaksaver slight adjustments are only made to your CAC and (where available) your electric water heater.  For central air conditioners and electric water heaters, the only difference may be a very slight difference in temperature - most people won’t notice a change at all.

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Do I have to adjust my thermostat or change any other settings?
No, participating in the program is easy and requires no effort, time or investment.

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Who do I call when I have questions or problems?
Your questions are always welcomed. Questions about this program can be directed to your electric utility.

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If I only have a room air conditioner can I still participate in the program?
No. As it stands now, the program is currently limited to customers with central air conditioning systems. If you have central air conditioning, you may be able to also add an electric water heater. This varies by participating electric utilities.

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I already have a high-efficiency central air conditioning system – should I bother participating in this program?
Although a high-efficiency system uses less electricity than an older or less efficient system, any and all electricity savings are helpful during times when the electricity system is strained.

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Tell me about the other programs to save electricity that are available to homeowners now..
There are currently 2 additional programs being run by the Ontario Power Authority that you may be interested in:

Cool Savings Rebate
Enjoy this season in comfort. Up to $550 in rebates is available for replacing your heating and/or cooling system with a more efficient, qualified model. To learn more, click here.

The Great Refrigerator Roundup
You could save up to $150 per year in electricity? Book an appointment and we'll come pick it up for FREE – we'll even haul it out of your basement for you. While we're there, we can also remove your old window air conditioner or dehumidifier. To book your appointment or to learn more, click here.

* Fridges and freezers must be at least 15 years old, in working condition and between 10 and 27 cubic feet.

For other programs click here.

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