Info for Cycled Air Participants

Thank you for participating in United Power’s Cycled Air Program!

Below you will find more information about how the program works, how your Cycled Air device operates and why this program is so important.

How Your Cycled Air Device Works

Air conditioning use in the hot summer months constitutes the bulk of United Power’s summer peak energy demand. The cycled air program is designed to help United Power manage these energy peaks by cycling member air conditioners on and off at short intervals, which reduces the need for expensive peak power purchases and can even help delay the construction of future power plants.

The device that is installed at your property is designed to maintain your home’s current temperature while United Power turns your A/C compressor on and off (also called a cycling event)—often customers don’t even notice when a cycling event occurs. To maintain your home’s temperature, the device will monitor the A/C run time and allow your A/C to run at 60% of that run time during a cycling event.

For example: if your air conditioner ran the entire 60 minutes between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and a cycling event occurred at 3 p.m., your A/C would operate for a total of 36 minutes between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. (60% of the previous hour’s 60 minute run time). The total run time during a cycling event would be spread across the hour, so in this example the compressor would be on for 18 minutes and then off for 12 minutes, and so on, throughout the hour.

What the Lights on Your Device Mean

Staying Comfortable on Cycled Air

Since your cycled air device is designed to maintain your home’s temperature during a cycling event, you may find that it is difficult to lower the temperature in your home through a cycling event. To benefit from cycled air and maintain a comfortable temperature in your home, don’t let your home get 6-8 degrees warmer than your optimum comfort level while you are away. You will get the best results if you use a programmable thermostat to automatically raise the temperature in your home while you are away and begin cooling your home before you will return. Cycled Air participants are not advised to turn their air conditioners off while they are away, because it can be difficult to lower the temperature in your home while a cycling event is occurring.

When to Expect United Power to Control Your A/C (Cycling Event)

United Power will cycle member air conditioners on the hottest days during the summer months. Air conditioning use in the summer typically runs from May through September and cycling events can occur anywhere from zero to six days per month. Cycling events will occur during the peak time of day, which is typically the hottest times of the day—beginning in the mid-afternoon and running into the early evening.

What is a Peak?

A peak is a utility’s highest energy demand day in a given calendar month. Air conditioning use drives United Power’s summer peak, so the outside temperature typically correlates with when United Power hits its peak. In some months, United Power peaks with outside temperatures at 90° and in other months, United Power reaches its peak when temperatures exceed 100°. Utilities must have the energy available when customers demand it—whether through available generating sources, or by purchasing it on the open market.

Think of a peak as the dinner rush at a restaurant. For most of the day, there is enough seating to accommodate every customer when they walk in the door, but at dinner time on a Friday evening, you may have to wait a long time to be seated. Rather than expand the restaurant to accommodate a dinner rush that lasts just a few hours, the restaurant will make customers wait to be seated. The overhead expense of operating a larger restaurant would chew into the profits of the business.

Utilities on the other hand, can’t make customers ‘wait to be seated.’ They must have the capacity to provide the electricity customers demand. For us, this peak demand usually occurs in the early evening when people come home from work, turn on their air conditioner and settle in for an evening of using electronics for entertainment, cooking and other household chores. To provide enough power for this high demand time, utilities must either build enough power plants to meet this demand or buy expensive power on the open market for high-demand use periods. By ‘leveling’ our peak, United Power saves money for our members—and shares those savings with members who participate in the Cycled Air program.

Air conditioning use by our members is one of the largest loads on our system during summer peaks. The Cycled Air program allows us to lower this peak, which helps keep rates from rising and prolongs the need to build additional power plants.

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