As summer heats up, Idaho Power will be paying home energy customers back to use devices that control when the compressor to their air conditioner at homes and businesses works. (There is a similar program for irrigation on farms). Customers get a rebate of $5 per month for June, July and up to August 15.
The remote-control boxes are about as big and thick as a cookbook and they allow Idaho Power to control the compressor -- the part that makes air cold - in homes for up to 15 minutes. Idaho power says the temperature may increase by a degree or two during that interval on a hot day, but since homeowners can still control the fan to the A/C, they don't really notice an increase.
It's all part of an effort of load balancing, which means to distribute energy usage during peak demand. People will get a little less air conditioning, but only intermittently, and they contribute to the power company's effort of being able to deliver power everywhere so everyone can stay cool. There are similar load-balancing programs for businesses and farms as well.
These efforts mean more than just making life easier for the power company: they say it helps stave off expensive infrastructure improvements that might otherwise be necessary.
"Reducing demand slightly on each individual household, you don't really notice that much of a change," said Theresa Drake, Manager of Customer Relations and Energy Efficiency. "But collectively, with 30,000 customers participating it can have an impact on the system to help defer building new resources in the future."