Thunder Bay

Hydro offering energy-saving program to homeowners

Thunder Bay Hydro is working on a new program to help homeowners reduce their energy consumption.

Thunder Bay Hydro aims to cut demand at critical periods

An energy-saving program, known as Peaksaver, could help Thunder Bay Hydro customers cut their consumption of energy during times they don't need it — such as when they are at work. (Jen Keiller/CBC)

Thunder Bay Hydro is working on a new program to help homeowners reduce their energy consumption.

It would also cut demand on the power system at critical periods — and those who volunteer will surrender some control over their hydro usage.

As summertime air conditioning eats up power consumption, Thunder Bay Hydro is considering an energy-saving program similar to one implemented in Toronto.

Almost 70,000 homeowners there participate in a program — known as Peaksaver — that allows Toronto Hydro to send a signal to a residence with a special thermostat on hot days. The signal can slow a customer's air conditioning by 50 per cent. The fan on the unit continues to run, but the air conditioner does not kick on as often.

"It's not that we're turning the air conditioner off, it just slows down the cycle," said Tanya Bruckmueller, a spokesperson with Toronto Hydro.

"It's a really easy program to help with the city-wide conservation efforts. [A] lot of people leave their air conditioning running during the day so … [the] temperature doesn't get up. [But people are] not even home. Even if [they] were to notice a difference it would be minimal."

Thunder Bay Hydro is looking at offering the option to residential customers, according to Thunder Bay Hydro’s Eileen Dias.

"The goal would be that this would only be taking place in those rare instances when the system was being stressed," she said.

Dias said the program could also be used to control the operation of a home heating system.

Tanya Bruckmueller said the energy saving program generally does not make a big difference on residential electricity bills. She said the main benefit for customers is that they know they’ve taken a step to save electricity.

Thunder Bay Hydro had a meeting this week with heating and ventilation contractors to discuss their participation in the program as installers. Dias said Thunder Bay Hydro hopes to sign up about 1,500 homeowners and wants to begin the program this year.