Well, duh. Cut the light bill whenever you can. But we can only go so far. I mean, who can run a modern business without computers, phones, lights and the rest? It’s a cost of doing business, so we have to live with it, right?
You’re right. We can’t unplug our buildings and still get work done. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be smart about how we burn kilowatts. And the best time to be smart about the electric bill is right now, because summer is the season of peak demand, and it’s when your electric bill will double or triple. What can you do about it?
“Peak Demand” is how the electric company describes what happens on an August afternoon. And what happens is the ramp-up of every air conditioner in town. Yes, you use more air conditioning in the summer. So you’ll use more electricity, and pay more for it. Let’s say I use twice the juice. I’ll pay twice as much to Edison (or the DWP, or whoever). Simple, right?
Not quite. You could pay four or five times as much. Because a summer kilowatt costs a lot more than a winter kilowatt. Your utility company switches you to the “summer energy” generation rates, and you pay more.
But it doesn’t stop there. Only half your electric bill is for the energy you use. The other half (the “transmission charges”) are for the wires, transformers, and other bits that carry the power from the power plant to your building. This part of your bill is based on your daily average use. As your use goes up in summer, this goes up, too.
How can you keep these two fees (generation rates and transmission charges) under control this summer? As I said, “Peak Demand” is driven by air conditioning. Making sure all your air conditioners are cleaned, tuned, and ready for action before summer starts is the best way to keep that electric bill under control.
If you don’t have a maintenance plan for your air conditioning equipment, then get one. If you do have one, make sure the maintenance techs get out to your building before summer arrives. Don’t mail your money to Edison if you don’t have to.