There are three ways to reduce energy at home.
- Produce it yourself with solar power. Remember to reduce before you produce though.
- Use less energy through energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is about eliminating waste by sealing the ductwork, adding more insulation the right way, purchasing a more efficient air conditioner... upgrades that don’t change your lifestyle, they all work behind the scenes to lower your energy bills.
- Reduce energy at home is through energy conservation. Energy conservation is about putting a sweater on during the winter rather than turning the thermostat higher or changing to shorts and a tee shirt in the summer and being slightly uncomfortable rather than lowering the thermostat in the summer, turning the ceiling fans off to rooms that are not used… they are lifestyle changes. Today we are talking about method #3, energy conservation through load controllers.
What Is a Load Controller?
I thought, “why would I want my a load controller shutting off my air conditioner during the hottest part of the day? That’s the whole reason I have an air conditioner in the first place! It’s like I’m being forced to keep the thermostat set to 84 degrees, take a cold shower, (not that we get cold water in Arizona in the summer) walk around with shorts and a tee shirt and sweat my butt off! YES! I want to be able to cook at 6 pm when I come home from work without having the oven shut off in the middle of cooking. Load controller? No thank you, you can take that load controller back!”
Load Controllers on APS and SRP Homes
That is why APS is drastically changing their rates to charge customers a lot more for on peak energy usage… how much more? APS has already raised their electricity rates by 44% for on peak usage and 72% for off peak! With this new rate change, all 4 million APS customers are going to see an increase on their energy bill even if their energy usage stays exactly the same. SRP has peak hours from 1-8 pm during the summer and implemented a demand charge for solar customers where they look at 30 min increments and nail you with another charge if your load exceeds 7 kW. See the table below to get a feel for how little 7 kW of load actually is.
How Much Energy Do My Appliances and AC Use?
- Water heater: 4.5 kW
- Electric dryer: 5.6 kW
- Oven: 3.4 kW
- Stove: 1.5 kW/burner
- Pool water pump: 2 kW
- 5 ton heat pump SEER 14, newer than 2015: 8 kW
- 5 ton 15 year old heat pump: 11 kW
- 3 ton heat pump: 5.6 kW (1.6 kW/ton)
Do Load Controllers Save Money?
In the past we have advocated to use the super cool approach coupled with energy efficiency upgrades. The idea behind super cooling your home is playing the game of using as little energy as possible during on peak hours by taking your thermostat down to 72 degrees in the summer several hours before the peak hours start, so up until 1 pm for most homes. Then let’s say your peak hours start at 1 pm, so you would program your thermostat to go up to 86 degrees from 1 pm to 6 pm, or whenever your peak hours stop. It’s also smart to put a water heater timer on an electric water heater and shut the water heater off from 1 – 6 pm also. Combine this with a well sealed and insulated home, all that cold air is going to stay inside much longer than it would a leaky, uninsulated home and you can expect to see a high energy bill of around $100 per 1000 sq ft. However with APS’s new rate structure the cost of off peak energy is also increasing where it does not make it as effective to super cool your home because the power isn’t cheap any time of day. SRP customers can still take advantage of super cooling the home but the best things APS customers can do is to make sure the house is as well sealed and insulated as possible.
What is a Smart Load Controller?
Are There Alternatives To Load Controllers?
Are Load Controllers Bad For The Air Conditioners?
On Trane’s variable speed systems, there are only 3 wires required, one for power, one for common and one for data. The data wire now controls everything from the fan, to the refrigerant flow to changing the compressor capacity in 1/10th increments. Can you imagine what must be going through the technicians mind when he opens the control board to wire the load controller and finds a board looking like something from Star Trek with blinking LED indicator lights and no Y1 compressor or G fan wires present? At that point he can either call in the Calvary and get some help or take a shot in the dark and like the hero in the nick of time cutting the bomb wire, just close his eyes and pray it doesn’t blow up. Have we seen this before? Yes, in fact we have but not exactly like the scenario above, it was with a Nest thermostat that kept tripping and shutting off because whoever wired the load controller spliced his wires wrong.