5 On Your Side

Energy program cuts costs

Posted August 12, 2009 5:01 p.m. EDT
Updated August 12, 2009 6:11 p.m. EDT

— Every time we run the air conditioner, do laundry or turn on the oven, we use electricity. And, of course, electricity costs money.

But using electrical appliances costs Raleigh resident Donna Sink less than most people.

Sink is on Progress Energy's Time of Use program. She gets a lower rate than regular customers for using electricity during off-peak hours. But when she uses power during peak hours, she pays a higher rate.

“We have saved so much money at so little impact on our time,” Sink said.

So during the summer, Sink does tasks like laundry after 9 p.m. and before 10 a.m. or anytime on the weekends.

Sink has it down to a science, complete with a cheat sheet. “It reminds me of when I want my heat pump to come on and off,” she said.

And she's especially careful during peak times.

“I never program it so I have the water heater on and the dishwasher on and the oven on and the dryer on and the heat pump on. I make sure we're using one big ticket item at a time,” she said.

She has timers on appliances such as the water heater.

“At 9 p.m., the water heater's kicking in. It's on. It's heating up my hot water, and at 6 a.m. whenever we're all showering, we've got plenty of hot water. It turns off at 10 a.m.,” Sink said. “During the day, who's here to use the hot water? If we are here, there's still enough water in the tank for me to use hot water if I need it.”

She programs her thermostat to run the downstairs air conditioning unit during the day and the upstairs unit at night, so that only one runs during peak hours.

Sink also programs the dishwasher. She rarely uses her oven, but if she needs to, she first turns off the air conditioner.

“You have to be willing to make that kind of change in how you use electricity,” said Mike Hughes, a spokesman for Progress Energy..

Hughes said about 3 percent of customers are enrolled in the Time of Use program. He said the program is definitely not for everyone.

“The customer on the Time of Use rate has a lot more opportunity to save money, but if you're not willing to make those changes in how you use electricity and think about how you use electricity, it's probably not the greatest opportunity for you,” Hughes said.

The program is definitely a money saving opportunity for Sink. Last year, she saved about $600.

“We like saving the $50 to $60 a month,” she said.

Information on Progress Energy’s peak hours:

March 31 – September 30 (Switch occurs at Midnight)
On Peak: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Off Peak: 9 p.m. – 10 a.m.

September 30 – March 31 (Switch occurs at Midnight)
On Peak: 6 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Off Peak: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
On Peak: 4 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Off Peak: 9 p.m. – 6 a.m.

Duke Energy does not offer a Time of Use plan but does offer other savings options.