Many people don’t realize that some of the components to their electricity spend are demand-based. Demand is the highest instantaneous usage during a period of time. Think about it this way: this morning you may have driven to work and during that trip, you covered a certain distance and averaged 25 mph. It is unlikely that you were at 25 mph the entire time because your speed fluctuated. You may have reached 35 mph, which in this example, can be thought of as your peak demand. Just as the road has to be sufficient enough to meet your peak driving demand, the electrical infrastructure has to be sufficient to meet your peak electrical demand. The greater the difference between your average consumption and your peak consumption, the more expensive on a per mile or per kilowatt basis it is to build and maintain that infrastructure.
This is all interesting, but what’s the point? Summer is a time when it’s easy to lose track of our electrical usage – we turn on air conditioners, fans, computers, lights and other equipment without thinking about what those extra loads are doing to our electrical peak. Afterwards we discover that the extra load has increased our energy bill. Unfortunately, this increase doesn’t just affect one bill – it affects the next 18 months of bills! So before you flip the switch on over the next few months, stop and think – do I really need to use that extra electricity? If you are in the last few days of your monthly meter read cycle, or asking that question late in the afternoon, you might be better off being a little warmer for a few hours or waiting to run a particular piece of equipment until the evening during off-peak hours. That extra energy can have negative consequences to your financial health, so be thoughtful with your consumption.