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Energy and Demand: Why It's Important to Understand the Difference


Photo of a person’s hands as they are putting clothes in the washing machine.
Running large appliances at different times helps to lower your demand on energy. (Photo: Mark Gilliland)

We use electricity in our homes in lots of different ways to keep us cool, dry our clothes, cook our food, and even clean the house.


Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about how much electricity it takes to run those appliances.


Each time they turn on and off they create peaks and valleys in electrical demand. Why is understanding demand important? By working together, we can lower the demand for electric power. This teamwork is a win-win for the membership and the cooperative as the cooperative consistently works toward the goal of keeping the cost of power as low as possible.


How do you reduce your demand? You do that by reducing your energy peak. What is a peak? It might help to think about electricity like the internet service you need to stream a movie at home. When just one device is streaming, everything works fine. But if two or three people start watching different movies on different devices at the same time, they’ve created a peak.


Peaks cost utilities more because they put more strain on the grid, the network of power plants lines and other equipment that keeps you connected and your power on. Our cooperative must plan and prepare to meet each member’s demand needs, even when it’s not a daily occurrence. Equipment to meet your electrical demand must be on standby and ready to fill your increased need for electricity immediately.


Think of it like filling a swimming pool. Imagine you want to fill the swimming pool with water. You could fill it in minutes using a firehose or you could fill it in hours with a garden hose. In both cases, you get the same amount of water, but how much water you get and how fast is quite different. That difference incurs cost to the system.


To reduce your electricity demand and save money, think about your appliances. Take an electric range and dishwasher as an example. Make them take turns instead of running them at the same time.


Or, take a hot shower when you’re not drying your clothes in an electric dryer. Keeping your demand for electricity at a trickle can help lower cost.


At the end of the day, it’s simple. Lowering demand helps the cooperative and member-owners keep cost low. After all, that’s all a part of our mission: providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity.


For more information, call our office!

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