Help Pete the Beak...

Beat the Peak

Local water conservation legend Pete the Beak is rallying TEP customers to beat the peak for more reliable, sustainable electric service.

Help Pete the Beak…Beat the Peak

Local conservation legend Pete the Beak is rallying TEP customers to beat the peak for more reliable, sustainable electric service.

For decades, Tucson Water and Pete have urged Tucson residents to conserve water. Now, Pete is asking us to work together to use less power between 3-7 p.m. during summer months. Using lots of energy during this period puts a real strain on our local grid.

Limiting energy use during those hours can help keep our service reliable and affordable, since TEP pays a premium for the resources customers need during peak summer periods.

Pete wants you to know that, like water, energy is a limited resource, particularly as hotter temperatures increase demands on the western grid. Although TEP 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.

Beating the peak also offers two other big benefits:

Using energy at midday and in the evening makes the most of our wind and solar systems, which produce more power during off-peak hours.
You may be able to save money if you’re using one of our Time-of-Use pricing plans.

So don’t duck your responsibility to support reliable, affordable energy for our community.

Plus, it’s easy! Just five quick steps you can take between 3-7 p.m. in the summer can make a big difference:

Avoid using large appliances.

That means doing laundry or running the dishwasher overnight or earlier in the day if possible.

Set the thermostat to 78 degrees.

In fact, you might consider pre-cooling your home. At noon, set your thermostat three degrees lower than your normal setting.  Then, at 3 p.m., adjust your thermostat as high as your family can safely tolerate. This will avoid running the AC while your pre-cooled home slowly warms.

Use a ceiling fan to circulate the air and help you feel cooler.

It also helps to close the drapes, shades and blinds where possible to keep out the sun’s radiant heat.

Plan your meals.

Grill outdoors or use the microwave at dinnertime to reheat meals you cooked earlier in the day.

Program your pool pump.

Program your pool pump to run during the morning or at midday.

Here’s a closer look at the three main reasons it helps all of us when we work together to Beat 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.

TEP’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 keep an eye on our Clean Energy Tracker, you’ll see that our solar energy systems produce the most power around noon, when the sun is directly overhead. You also may see that our wind farms are most productive during the early morning and later in the evening, after the sun sets.

So when you shift the majority of your energy usage to mornings and early afternoons, a larger share of the energy you’re using for your dishwasher, washing machine and other appliances and electronics is coming from the sun.

Similarly, your evening energy use taps into our wind energy resources. Sunset is when winds start to kick up in southeastern New Mexico, allowing us to generate clean wind power at our wind farms, including Oso Grande and Borderlands.

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 Pricing Planner tool 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 TEP’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.

Every Little Bit Helps

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. Just ask Pete, whose successful conservation campaigns for Tucson Water inspired individual actions that delivered great results for our community.

Please join Pete, and your fellow customers, and let’s Beat that Peak!

pete-no-fans-sign-above-head

How Water and Energy Flow Together

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 – just as Pete shares in his message to Beat the Peak.

Get more tips from Tucson Water on ensuring your own water-smart home. Learn about free water audits and other rebate and incentive programs to start saving now.