Prepping, homesteading and living the simple, green, independent life.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Control Your Home Thermostat On the Internet!

Today a fellow from our natural gas company came by to install a new thermostat as part of the Peaksaver program that we signed up for.
If you haven't heard of Peaksaver, basically what it does is allow the Ontario government electricity provider to turn off your central air conditioner for 30 minutes during periods of high demand.  This is supposed to help reduce demand and prevent blackouts (though considering the Toronto blackout that happened during the Queen's visit it doesn't seem to be working).
I had heard of Peaksaver years ago and was originally dead set against having the government controlling my air conditioner; however a few months ago more details and new incentives flipped me to the other side:
1) A Free Programable Thermostat
I haven't had good experiences with programable thermostats; they never seem to work properly!  We tried programming our current one but for some reason it never worked. In winter we had set it to go down to 20 degrees while we were at work and to go back up an hour before we got home.  A number of times when we got home however the thermostat was at 16!
Hopefully the one they installed will work properly.  At the very least it can't work worse than what we already have.
2) The Ability to Set Thermostat Over the Internet
This is really what sold me on signing up for this program.  I'd like to be able to monitor the temperature in our home while at work or on the road with my iPhone.  I can't stand hot humid days so it would be great to be able to come home to a cool home if we had forgot to turn on the AC before leaving.
3) Turning Off the A/C Won't Affect Us
According to the Peaksaver website, they only shut off the air conditioner for 30 minutes during which time your furnace fan will still run and blow cool air.
Secondly they only turn off the A/C during peak hours which are weekdays between 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM.  We don't get home from work until about 4:30 so we probably wouldn't notice it.
They also don't turn off the A/C during weekends and holidays either.
Lastly, we usually only use our A/C for a week or two the whole summer.  We've got two big maples that shade our house and we open the windows at night and close them during the day to trap in the cool air.
There are other minor incentives like a $25 credit on your utility bill and helping the environment but to be honest, these didn't really interest me.
I'll update later on how things are going and post any problems we have.  In the end the thing that really finalized my decision to try Peaksaver was the sentence, "You can opt out at any time".


  1. I'm glad you're enjoying your new thermostat!

    I just wanted to clarify how the program works in Ottawa because there are different variations of the program throughout Ontario. In the case of Hydro Ottawa, on the hottest weekday afternoons during the summer, when the use of air conditioners is greatest, Hydro Ottawa may signal your thermostat to cycle your air conditioner to alternately run for 15 minutes and pause for 15 minutes over the course of the peaksaver event - weekends and holidays are excluded. The duration of the peaksaver event is typically 4 hours. Your fan will continue to run so you may not notice that an event is taking place.

    If you ever have any questions about you thermostat, you can call the number that’s on the top of the thermostat: 1-866-813-2226

    Electricity Conservation, Hydro Ottawa Limited

  2. Thanks Anne. That's exactly what I liked about it; we won't even notice a difference.

    So far I'm really liking the thermostat though I haven't tried programming it yet.

  3. Just wanted to say that I like your blog, and to keep writing.

    I am also in Ottawa, and am interested in homesteading.

  4. Thanks a lot. Sorry I didn't notice your comment, it got caught in the spam trap and for some reason I didn't get (or didn't notice) an email notification.

    I hope you keep reading; I've been pretty busy so I haven't been posting much but it would be great to get in touch with some preppers/homesteaders in the area!