As outdoor temperatures rise and fall, you depend on your thermostat to make the right adjustments to improve your indoor comfort. But comfort shouldn’t come at the expense of overworking your AC unit and driving up costs higher than necessary.
To help San Antonio homeowners keep their utility bills down, the area’s main electricity provider, CPS Energy, offers a “savings” program where the homeowner essentially gives CPS control of their home thermostat. CPS will adjust the homeowner’s indoor temperature setting, theoretically resulting in lower energy bills. While this may sound like a beneficial program that could lead to substantial savings, not everyone is jumping on board.
Not sure if this program is right for you? Below, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of the CPS Energy Smart Thermostat program, and we’ll also explain if the program is worth it.
How Does the CPS Energy Smart Thermostat Program Work?
To get started the homeowner is required to have a working Wi-Fi connection and a CPS-approved, Wi-Fi enabled thermostat. As part of enrollment in the program, the homeowner gives CPS permission to make changes to their thermostat during what they call “conservation events”. These occur when CPS’ system is in peak demand, typically during the warmest time of the year between 3 pm and 7 pm on weekdays.
During a conservation event, a homeowner can opt out, meaning they’re able to manually override CPS’ adjustments to return the thermostat to any desired setting. The homeowner doesn’t lose control entirely, in other words, but more or less shares control of the thermostat during these conservation events. Below are some potential pros and cons of this CPS program.
Let’s start with what we see as the problematic aspects.
Not Ideal for At-Home Workers
If you work from home, you probably want to think hard about allowing CPS to control your thermostat. Since you’ll be home for your entire workday, you may find it very inconvenient when CPS takes control of the indoor temperature. You could find yourself experiencing swings in temperature that could impact your work and make you uncomfortable.
Cooling May Take Hours
If you don’t detect that CPS has modified your thermostat setting immediately—say you’re on an important video conference and don’t see the notification on your smartphone—you may find yourself drenched in sweat before you can react. Not only can such an occurrence lead to discomfort, but cooling in some homes can take hours—especially on a hot afternoon. Your specific AC unit and the size and efficiency of your home will play a role in this, of course, but even under ideal circumstances, it can be frustrating when your home gets too warm because your power company decided to adjust your thermostat.
Savings May be Insubstantial
In our experience, the program does not lead to substantial savings. We’ve heard of homeowners saving only $30 per year on their energy bills. If you think about the hassle of calling CPS, having a thermostat installed, and participating in the program, it may not be worth your time since you’ll likely only experience minimal savings.
The Bottom Line
While CPS’ program might save you some money in the long run, it honestly isn’t geared toward your comfort needs. CPS’ interest lies in decreasing loads during peak times, not in helping manage your thermostat for you when, for example, you’re away from the house. Our suggestion would be for homeowners to purchase a smart thermostat, and to leverage its capabilities to optimize the trade-off between comfort and energy use. You’ll save more money and avoid the hassles of having someone else adjust your thermostat when it’s not necessarily convenient timing.
The Alternative View: Doing Your Part to Help
As the program is intended to help CPS meet high-energy demands, you could, actually, help do your part by enrolling in the program. You—along with other program participants—would be supporting a company that frequently gives back to the community, and you would also be helping ensure that the electricity needs of the entire city can be adequately served during peak load times. If you find this compelling, then we wouldn’t want to discourage your participation. But this, we believe, is really the only legitimate reason for participating.
To learn more information about this program or schedule an HVAC service visit, contact Northeast Air Conditioning today! Call us at (210) 658-0111