About 400,000 Xcel Energy customers in the Upper Midwest have signed up to save energy and money on the hottest, stickiest days of the summer.

Customers enrolled in Xcel Energy’s Saver’s Switch and Electric Rate Savings programs, which launched in 1990, help reduce electricity demand when temperatures and humidity levels are high. All together, the programs could reduce electricity demand by approximately 1,044 megawatts – 388 megawatts through Saver’s Switch and 655 megawatts through the Electric Rate Savings program. That’s enough power to serve approximately 785,000 homes.

“Participants receive discounts on their electricity bills while helping us delay building new power plants and avoid purchasing high-priced electricity during peak-use periods,” said Judy Poferl, president and CEO of Northern States Power Co. Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company. “That keeps rates lower for everyone, helps avoid system stress that can lead to power outages, and helps preserve the environment."

The Saver’s Switch program allows Xcel Energy by remote control to cycle central air conditioner compressor units on and off at 15 to 20-minute intervals while the fan stays on circulating previously cooled air. Customers enrolled in the program receive a 15 percent discount on their electricity bills for all four summer months regardless of whether their air conditioning units are ever turned off.

Approximately 382,500 residential and 15,500 small businesses are currently enrolled in Saver’s Switch in the Upper Midwest. Commercial and industrial customers participating in Xcel Energy’s Electric Rate Savings programs also receive bill discounts.

Under the commercial/industrial programs, businesses, schools, government agencies and other large electricity users commit to reduce electricity use to a contracted level of their own choosing during peak-use periods. Program participants reduce their electricity use by shutting off lights, air conditioning or manufacturing processes. Some participants use backup generators. Under their agreements with Xcel Energy, participants who don’t reduce electricity use at Xcel Energy’s request pay a penalty.

Generally, activation of the Saver’s Switch and Electric Rate Savings programs occurs on very hot, humid summer days, especially when temperatures are in the 90s for consecutive days