To understand demand response, we first need to understand how electricity grids work. Because electricity can’t be stored on a massive scale, energy supply and demand must be kept in balance at all times. When demand for energy drops, power generators are turned down or off, and when demand rises, generators are turned on or up. The challenge with this method is that it causes us to rely on getting our energy from fossil fuel plants that exist only to meet peak energy demands. In addition to being the most expensive form of fuel, fossil fuel plants are the top source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the US, and the primary cause of global warming.
Conversely, demand response involves people and smart technology - not just generators and power plants - to meet the electrical demands of consumers. It allows consumers to voluntarily reduce their electricity usage.
Residential customers and businesses participating in demand response programs are notified and asked if they’d like to turn off non-essential appliances when the demand for energy is expected to rise. People with smart devices and programmable thermostats have the ability to take advantage of demand response even more so by modifying their energy use at any time from their smartphones. At the end of a billing cycle, some consumers may receive a rebate on their electricity bill, in addition to the amount they saved by conserving energy because their conservation contributes to balancing supply and demand on the electricity grid.
If we want to build a more sustainable future, we must be prepared to embrace innovation, new technologies, and cost-effective ways of delivering energy to consumers. One that rewards efficiency and performance. In doing so, we will open the door to greener living and a host of clean energy technologies that enable consumer choice, independence and self-reliance for us all.
P.S. Don’t forget! You can reduce your home energy usage by more than 15 percent this winter by installing a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts your home's temperature. Get $250 back on a 3-year home safety and automation contract with Clearview Energy*. More details at clearviewenergy.com/homesafety.