How to save during a price spike

It’s 3:00 p.m. on a Thursday and the price of electricity spikes. What to do? First and foremost, don’t panic. Prices spike over 6¢/kWh (the average electricity-only price in Texas) only 3.9% of the time.

Secondly, it’s good to know that when prices do spike during the summer, it’s usually around 2-6 p.m. Here are some tips on what you can do around the house during price spikes. You’ll save money and learn how to take advantage of the wholesale market.

Pre-Cool Your Home

As mentioned earlier, prices usually spike between 2-6 p.m. A good way to keep your home cool without suffering from the heat is to cool your home overnight and in the morning when prices are low – they are usually between 1-2¢/kWh in the middle of the night.

  • If you work regular business hours: Pre-cool your home overnight. When you leave for work in the morning, up your thermostat to 78-80 degrees for the unoccupied hours. 
  • If you are home during the day: Keep your AC going until you get a price alert. Then, increase it by at least 2 degrees (or more) or switch to ceiling fans completely.  
  • If you have a programmable thermostat: Set up an IFTTT applet to automatically turn off your AC when prices hit your suggested threshold.

Adjusting your thermostat setting up one degree typically can save 2-3% on cooling costs. 

Shift Usage

Below is a chart on how much appliances cost at certain price points (these prices are for energy-only): at normal prices (2¢), high prices (30¢) and extremely high prices ($1). 

When prices do spike, it’s best to avoid using these devices during that time. Wait for prices to go back to normal to resume usage. 

Rates and Hourly Price are based on energy-only prices and do not include TDU charges.

See how much other appliance cost here: Estimating Appliance and Home Electronic Energy Use.

Thermostat

ACs are one of the biggest energy users during the summer. Here are a couple of tips to lower usage not only during a price spike, but for overall savings. 

  • In summer, set thermostats between 78 and 80 degrees during the day/business hours, and above 80 degrees during unoccupied hours.  
  • Maintain your central air conditioner by cleaning the outside compressor with a garden hose (be sure to shut off power at the fuse or breaker first). 
  • You can operate a couple of fans with a fraction of the electricity needed for air conditioning, and their cooling effect may make it possible to cut back on AC use.
  • A ceiling fan should blow air down in the summer and up in winter

Pool Pump

  • Set your pool pump to run at night.

Refrigerator 

  • Get rid or unplug spare refrigerators or freezers. 
  • Your refrigerator should be set around 38 degrees.
  • Make sure there is a firm seal on your refrigerator.  If it releases even just a small amount of cold air, the energy costs will be significant.

Home

  • Shade south- and west- facing windows during the hottest part of the day in the summer. 
  • Unplug all electrical devices when not in use to reduce phantom load. These include phone and laptop chargers, DVRs, stereos, etc.
  • Use cold water for all but your most dirty loads of laundry.  Always use cold water for the rinse cycle. 
  • Plant a tree. One well-placed shade tree can reduce your cooling costs by 25%. 
  • When planting trees, place leafy shade trees to the south and west, and evergreens to the north.

Maintenance

You can get better energy efficiency, by making sure your home and appliances are in proper working condition. 

  • Keep the outside area surrounding your air conditioning unit clear for adequate airflow. This means also keeping plants at least one foot away.
  • Don't let furniture and draperies block the air flow from air registers.
  • Vacuum registers and vents regularly.
  • Check window panes to see if they need new glazing. If the glass is loose, replace the putty holding the pane in place. 
  • If drafts sneak in under exterior doors, replace the threshold.
  • If you cannot install a weatherstripping threshold in a door, block the drafts with a rolled-up towel or blanket. 
  • Go around your home with a candle to find air leaks. Use caulk or expanding foam to fill those leaks.

Use Griddy’s Tools

Using Griddy’s app to track energy prices will help reduce energy usage during price spikes. 

  • Download the Griddy app: iOS or Android
  • Opt in for push notifications to know when prices jump. In your app, go to Account > Settings > Notifications to turn them on.
  • On the Wholesale Price screen, check out the projected prices for the day to know what to expect. The circle turns red when prices are expected to be high. These are the times to avoid using high-energy items if you can.
  • Set up home automation. If you have a smart thermostat or any other smart home devices, you can have them automatically adjust when prices go high.

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