Some of Summerside, P.E.I.'s electrical utility customers are saving on heating oil while helping the city use up its excess wind power.
When the wind blows at night the Summerside utility is often generating surplus electricity at its four wind turbines. It offers a night-time discount to encourage electricity use at that time, and a way for customers to take advantage of that surplus.
More than 70 Summerside residents have purchased electric thermal storage units from the city. The unit is filled with ceramic bricks. During the night, the unit turns on and heats up the bricks. During the day it's off, but the warmth built up in the bricks helps heat the house.
Les Chipperfield started using his unit in October.
"In that short period of time in oil alone we've saved over $500," said Chipperfield.
"We're using more electricity but because of the deal, we're getting it at 8 cents [a kW-h] rather than 12, so the electricity bill hasn't gone up even though we're using more energy."
The discount is available for between 2,000 and 2,500 kW-h, depending on the size of the heating unit purchased. Hot water heaters are also available.
Lori Gandy, who works with the city's community services department, said the idea is something of a throwback.
"In the olden days when they wanted to heat beds and all that stuff, they used to heat up the bricks in the stove, wrap them in something and put it in the bed," said Gandy.
It's kind of the same thing, except there's a blower on it that blows out heat."
The units cost between $1,850 and $2,600 and can be purchased on a payment plan. The city is guaranteeing the four cent discount for five years.