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Program FAQs

Who is eligible to participate in Peak Partners?

All Fort Collins Utilities single-family residential and small commercial electric customers with:

  • Central air conditioning or a heat pump and central heat and broadband Wi-Fi Internet access. (Fort Collins Utilities' customers who rent are eligible if the landlord/property manager enrolls the property.)

My household has an occupant with a medical condition that may be affected by temperature changes. Am I able to participate?

Yes. Please be aware that the temperature inside the house could increase a few degrees during a Peak Partners conservation event, and you should take that into consideration before enrolling.


Are there any requirements for your A/C system to be able to participate?

Customers must have central air conditioning and heating in good working order. Customers with only window or room air conditioners are not eligible.


Why are you offering Peak Partners?

As Fort Collins continues to grow, and more residents acquire central air conditioning, large refrigerators, freezers, and other energy-hungry appliances, the demand for energy increases. To help manage the growing demand for electricity in Fort Collins, Peak Partners was developed to help reduce peak electricity demand during the summer months when usage is at its highest.

The goal is to reduce the peak electricity demand through technology and engagement with our customers using highly specific, tailored, actionable energy saving tips to save money. Peak Partners is a flexible, cost-effective residential energy management solution that combines peak electricity reduction and energy efficiency for our electricity customers and Fort Collins.


How does Peak Partners work?

When you enroll in Peak Partners, we'll professionally install a Peak Partners web-programmable thermostat in your home. On selected days in May through September, we'll automatically cycle the compressors of participating customers' central air conditioners and heat pumps off and on to help balance the region's demand for electricity. These events are known as Peak Partners "conservation events." Peak Partners works best when it is truly a community-wide effort.


How often will the program be activated?

The number of Peak Partners conservation events depends on many factors, including weather, peak electricity demand, and wholesale energy costs. Fort Collins expects no more than 20 conservation events per summer.


When and for how long will a conservation event last?

Peak Partners conservation events occur May through September on select hot weekdays and will typically occur during the afternoon to early evening. Conservation events typically last two to four hours.


What is "cycling?"

When a Peak Partners conservation event is called, your device will receive a signal that will put your cooling unit's compressor into a "conservation mode."

For all cycling levels, the fan will continue to circulate air even though the compressor has a reduced operating time. Below is an explanation of the cycling level:

  • Cycling Level
    50% cycling - Your compressor operates 50% of the amount of time that it did in the prior hour. Most participants won't notice the average 1- to 3-degree rise in temperature during a typical conservation event.

Are there any costs to participate in Peak Partners?

There are no on-going costs to participate in Peak Partners. There is a one-time $50 fee to help Fort Collins Utilities offset the installation costs of the thermostat. If you enroll in 2014, the $50 fee will be waived. If you are an existing participant of Load Management, the $50 fee will be waived in 2015 too.


Are there penalties for withdrawing from Peak Partners?

No, there are no penalties for withdrawing from Peak Partners. Fort Collins Utilities will not remove the web-programmable thermostat from the property when a customer withdraws from the program. To withdraw, contact the Peak Partners call center at 855-350-1464 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.


What is a web-programmable thermostat?

A Peak Partners web-programmable thermostat is a digital thermostat that allows you to adjust the temperature settings of your home from a smartphone, tablet, or computer via the internet to your preset schedule. (Note: The temperature may also be adjusted manually at the thermostat.)

During times of peak electricity demand, your Peak Partners web-programmable thermostat will receive a signal to initiate a conservation event. The signal operates on a unique frequency and will not interfere with any other wireless devices in your home.


How can I program my thermostat through the internet and receive my energy tips?

Participants in Peak Partners may access the thermostat settings through a portal from a computer or mobile device. Any changes made on the thermostat are reflected in the portal, and vice versa.

Energy tips are provided by Peak Partners based on energy-related criteria input by participants. The tips will be specific and can include methods of saving electricity on air conditioners, clothes dryers or other appliances. These tips may be communicated by e-mail or directly on the portal based on customer preference. You must be a participant in Peak Partners to receive the tailored energy tips.


Can I change my custom settings on my programmable thermostat?

While you can temporarily adjust your temperature settings up and down on your thermostat itself, the more advanced custom settings are available to you only online through your computer or mobile device.


What other information can I find in the Peak Partners online tool?

Participants in Peak Partners may receive specific electricity usage data for your home.


How can my programmable thermostat save 10% annually on my cooling and heating costs?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), depending on usage patterns and how effectively you program the thermostat, it is possible to save as much as 10% on home cooling and heating costs. This assumes you decrease your thermostat to a lower temperature in the winter and increase your thermostat to use less energy when you are not home in the summer.


How can Peak Partners benefit me?

Participants in Peak Partners will receive up to two state-of-the-art web-programmable thermostats, including installation. The thermostats and system provide 24x7 control, convenience and the opportunity to better control heating and cooling expenses.

In addition to the thermostat, participants in Peak Partners will receive valuable energy tips specific to their electricity usage habits. These tips are meant to make customers more aware of ways to save money from their everyday use of air conditioners, clothes dryers, pool pumps, or by adding insulation.


What causes "times of critical electricity demand?"

Times of critical (or peak) electricity demand occur when utility customers use electricity at the same time, creating overloads on the energy supply. Peak Partners is just one way Fort Collins is managing the rising demand for electricity, deferring the construction of high-cost power plants to help keep electricity rates lower, and helping the environment by reducing emissions produced on hot days.


Can a conservation event occur outside of the months of the Peak Partners cooling season?

No. Conservation events will occur within the months of May through September.


Will Peak Partners affect my comfort level?

You may or may not notice that a Peak Partners conservation event is even occurring. During the course of a conservation event, the temperature in a typical home may rise slightly, depending on the cycling level and solar exposure of your home. Variables such as home insulation, shaded windows, the addition of ceiling fans, and the amount of home foot traffic are some of the factors that can affect indoor temperature.


Is there any health concern with the RF signal used by the Peak Partners Thermostats?

During conservation events, Peak Partners operates through the use of a radio frequency (RF) signal. RF broadcasts are used for things like TV and radio broadcasts, mobile phones, microwave ovens, radar, and the Wi-Fi devices that give us Internet access. Standards and protocols have been set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and all radio communicating devices must be tested to ensure they transmit within a safe level. Radio waves emitted by web-programmable thermostats are a small fraction of those of wireless phones and is no different than your laptop operating over Wi-Fi, even at very close proximity, and are thus well below regulatory limits set for safety.


How will I know when a Peak Partners conservation event is occurring?

Check your Peak Partners thermostat. When a conservation event occurs, the left LED will glow green and the display will read "CONTROL ACTIVE MORE THAN/LESS THAN 2 HRS REMAINING" at the top of the screen. You will also receive a notification through your Peak Partners web/mobile application and email (if you have not opted out of email communications).


Am I permitted to "Override" of a conservation event?

Yes, you can override twice per summer via the mobile application.


How does Peak Partners benefit my community?

Central air conditioners create increased demand for electricity, both straining the power system and impacting short-term power prices. Participating in Peak Partners helps reduce peak energy use of central air conditioning, and adopting the provided energy tips are ways to help reduce demand, and to favorably impact short-term power prices. On an individual basis, one participant's contribution may seem small, but when all the program participants are joined together, the combined system impacts are significant and provide real system benefits.


How does Peak Partners help the environment?

Reducing electricity demand during a conservation event and the adoption of practices outlined in the homeowner-specific energy tips, Peak Partners reduces emissions by averting the need to produce additional electricity. When demand for electricity is at its highest and supplies are strained, less efficient power plants must be brought into operation to meet demand. Less efficient power plants generally mean higher emissions. The Peak Partners program helps reduce the need to build additional power plants.


Does participating in the Peak Partners program damage or create additional wear and tear on my AC equipment?

No. The thermostat will only reduce the run time of your compressor, which does not impact the equipment.


What happens if my thermostat fails? Is there a warranty?

The thermostat has a 12-month warranty. During that time Comverge – Utilities' authorized partner – will replace the unit. After the warranty is expired the homeowner is responsible for any expense related to the thermostat.


Once a conservation event is ended, does my AC work harder to compensate for higher temperatures in my home, and then end up costing me the same?

No. At the end of a conservation event the outdoor temperature is lower than during the event, so your HVAC system does not work harder to compensate.


What is the typical duration of a conservation event? What is the longest duration?

Most events (90%) last about three hours. Very rarely, there have been conservation events lasting up to six hours.