Defeat the Peak
By working together and making small shifts in their energy usage, UniSource customers can defeat the peak for more reliable, sustainable electric service.
Using lots of power between 3-7 p.m. during summer months puts a real strain on our local grid.
Limiting energy use during those hours can help keep our service reliable and affordable, since UniSource pays a premium for the resources customers need during peak summer periods.
Energy is a limited resource, particularly as hotter temperatures increase demands on the western grid. Although UniSource is well-prepared for summer, extreme weather in our region could increase energy costs and limit our access to some resources, particularly during on-peak periods.
Defeating the peak offers two other big benefits:
Help support reliable, affordable energy for our community.
It's easy! Just five quick steps you can take between 3-7 p.m. in the summer can make a big difference:
Every Little Bit Helps
Here's a closer look at a few reasons it helps all of us when we work together to Defeat the Peak:
Electricity is a real-time service. As energy use fluctuates throughout the day, we must generate the exact amount of power our customers need at the exact moment they use it.
That requires more resources during on-peak hours, including infrastructure we wouldn't need if customers conserved power during those periods. We also pay a steep premium on the energy we purchase to meet summer peak demands.
Rising on-peak usage also poses an increasing risk to reliability. In recent years, extreme heat in the western United States has threatened to drive peak electric use beyond the level our regional grid can serve. If energy supplies can't keep up with demand, our grid operators must find ways to reduce usage to balance the loads and resources.
We start by asking large industrial users to suspend operations and by shutting off service to customers that have agreed to occasional interruptions through "demand response" programs or interruptible rates. Next, we appeal to the public for conservation, urging customers to turn up their thermostats and take other steps to conserve energy. If this doesn't work, our last resort is to create "rolling blackouts" - short power outages that are rotated from one area of town to another to limit the impact for any one group of customers.
UniSource's reliability remains among the top tier of U.S. electric providers, so our customers have rarely experienced these kinds of interruptions. But the bottom line is that using less energy between 3-7 p.m. helps ease the pressure on our system, limiting our need for expensive on-peak power and reducing the threat of energy shortages, particularly during an extended Western heat wave.
If you shift your energy use away from 3-7 p.m., you could save money if you're on one of our three Time-of-Use pricing plans. These plans reward customers with lower rates when they use less energy during our summer and winter peak hours. That means 3-7 p.m. weekdays in the summer through September and from 6-9 a.m. and 6-9 p.m. in the winter, October through April. All weekends and major holidays are always off-peak.
Once you form some new habits - with the tips we've identified above - it's easy to save money and energy on these plans.
You can use our Residential Lifestyle Calculator to help you decide which plan might be right for you. This tool uses your past 12 months of energy usage to project what you might pay for power over the upcoming year on UniSource's various residential pricing plans. It does not account for changes in rates, taxes or surcharges, and it assumes identical energy use over the upcoming year.
Please consider the steps you could take to reduce usage during on-peak periods in the summer. Even small reductions in usage can really add up to big benefits.
Please tell your fellow customers and let's Defeat that Peak!
Saving Water Can Also Save Energy
Water and energy are connected more closely than many people realize. Energy helps deliver and treat the water we use every day for everything from showering, to cooking to watering our landscapes.
According to the EPA, letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours! So while you're saving water, you're also saving energy.
Here are a few ways to save on both:
- Half of all water use occurs in the bathroom. Turn off the tap while shaving or brushing your teeth. Showers are more water efficient than baths. Also consider installing a WaterSense showerhead, which can save 2,700 gallons per year and keep showers to about 5 minutes.
- Cook up savings in the kitchen. A dishwasher is more water efficient than washing by hand. Running only when it's full can save a family more than 300 gallons annually.
- Fix leaks. The average family wastes 180 gallons of water a week from leaks. That's the equivalent of 300 loads of laundry over the course of a year.
- Consider a water-smart landscape outside and be thoughtful about when you water. Desert-adapted landscapes use less than one-third of the water needed for grass and provide habitat for birds and pollinators. It's best to water in the early morning and in the evening after the sun goes down to minimize evaporation from the sun and wind.
- Reduce water heating costs and increase safety. Reducing the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees helps save energy and prevents scalding.
Learn more about applicable rebates for energy saving products.