Shave the Peak

Energy consumption is a spiky business, including for residences. It goes way up in the Summer and Winter, as homes need to be cooled and warmed. And it also peaks according to time of day, with large summer spikes during sweltering afternoons.

Those peaks have implications. First off, the resilience of the electrical grid depends on being able to meet those peaks in demand. The grid can fail, even without the influence of storms (and squirrels) that can bring critical pieces of infrastructure down. What’s more, on peak days, the high demand for power is met by dirtier fuels. In Massachusetts, peaker plants are oil fired. Lastly, the cost of peak power goes way up. We currently pay a fixed price for power, but the cost of supplying peak power is built into our basic rates.

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Utilities can take steps to reduce peak demand through the use of smart grids. But that’s a long way off in Massachusetts. But households have some agency over that peak power. They can purposefully reduce their demand on peak days and at peak hours. Simple things like not running high energy consuming appliances (think dishwashers or clothes washers) overnight, instead of during peak hours, can push the peaks down.

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Today, I signed up for Shave the Peak, a program initiated by Mass Energy Consumers Alliance. Through the program, I’ll receive text and email alerts on peak days, so I can be more aware of monitoring power consumption on those days.

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