Honeywell has received a two-year extension to its contract with CPS Energy, managing installation and support services for the utility’s Peak Saver demand response program. The program — available to residential, multi-family, and small commercial customers in the San Antonio, Texas, area — helps decrease electricity use when demand on the grid and production costs are at their highest. CPS Energy is able to stabilize fuel costs by reducing the need for additional power plants. In addition, participating homeowners receive a Honeywell UtilityPRO touchscreen programmable thermostat, which can cut day-to-day energy costs up to 10 percent or more.

“The customer is the critical link when it comes to implementing successful demand response programs, but involvement hinges on convenience and tangible benefits,” said Lynda Rodriguez, energy solutions manager at CPS Energy, the nation's largest municipally owned electric and natural gas utility. “Peak Saver has proven it has the optimal combination of customer service and technology to generate interest, drive enrollment, and help keep peak costs and demand in check. That’s why we continue to invest in the program.”

Since Peak Saver launched in 2003, Honeywell has installed more than 42,000 demand response thermostats. And as part of the new extension, the company plans to install an additional 22,000 thermostats by the end of 2012. When combined, CPS Energy will be able to reduce approximately 21 megawatts of electricity consumption when the demand for energy peaks.

Customers who enroll in the program get a free Honeywell UtilityPROthermostat, the industry’s fastest-selling thermostat for utility-sponsored demand response programs. UtilityPRO includes wireless technology that allows CPS Energy to communicate with the thermostats and temporarily cycle air conditioners on and off, only on the hottest days in May through September. The impact on comfort is negligible, but the ability to temporarily curb energy use in thousands of homes helps decrease the strain on the grid, especially since central air conditioners account for almost 15 percent of the electricity consumed by U.S. households.

In return, homeowners get a top-of-the-line thermostat that can lower monthly utility bills. The thermostat’s menu-driven programming walks users through a series of simple questions to establish a schedule, helping increase savings while maintaining comfort. UtilityPRO also offers touchscreen interaction and an easy-to-read backlit display — as well as the ability to program the thermostat online, from any location.
Participating customers also have the opportunity to recycle thermostats that are replaced as part of the program, since some old thermostats may contain mercury. CPS Energy and Honeywell will recycle the used hardware through the Thermostat Recycling Corp. (TRC), a national, non-profit organization that facilitates and manages the collection and proper disposal of mercury-switch thermostats. Since March 2010, more than 1,900 thermostats have been recycled through the CPS Energy program, diverting more than 16 pounds of mercury from solid waste.