Orange County REMC is owned and governed by a board of directors that are elected by its members and works in the interests of the community. Since the goal of the cooperative is to bring affordable and reliable energy to its members, members are only charged a facility charge, which covers the cost to operate the coop, and for the energy they use, kWh charge. When members notice that a monthly bill is higher than they would like it to be, the cooperative has several programs and services that can work in the best interests of the members- on an individual and collective scale.
The program that assists in keeping everyone’s bills lower is the Energy Management Program. It does this by lowering the amount of energy demand that households use during peak energy times, which happen during very hot or cold days. When everyone is using their air conditioners or heaters, the widespread usage exceeds the production capabilities of Hoosier Energy, Orange County REMC’s energy provider. When Hoosier Energy cannot provide the needed energy, it must purchase the power on the volatile energy market, an expensive solution to a momentary problem. On the larger scale, as Hoosier Energy is forced to resort to buying energy from other producers more and more often, it raises their need for expansion through expensive construction. In order to fund the expansion, Hoosier Energy would have to raise their rates, meaning members would see higher bills. This program, by reducing energy demand, will help postpone the need for the costly expansion that would otherwise be necessary to meet the demand.
The Energy Management Program combats this through the installation of a switch that allows Orange County REMC to remotely operate a member’s electric water heater and central air conditioner or heat pump during times when demand for energy is at its peak. Turning off the power to the HVAC units and water heaters reduces demand for up to three hours on the hottest and coldest days of each month. Since water heaters act as storage devices, members should experience no loss of hot water. HVAC systems are cycled for brief periods (15 to 30 minutes each hour) and the blower fan continues to circulate air during that time to maintain home comfort. By participating in this program, members are keeping their energy usage down, helping to keep their monthly bills at a minimum.
With a single-household focus, the Incentives and Rebates offered by Hoosier Energy can be one of the most effective ways for members to make a real impact in their monthly bill. These rebates assist in the purchase of energy efficient heat pumps and water heaters. Energy efficient appliances use less energy and amount to lower electric bills each month. They also last longer than traditional appliances, so the savings last years longer. Unfortunately, these machines have a higher price tag upfront. Through Orange County REMC, members can apply for rebates of up to $1,500 when they purchase qualifying equipment.
Another way for households to lower their monthly bill is by requesting a Free Energy Audit through Orange County REMC. The energy audit entails a certified energy auditor driving out to a member’s home and performing several tests, including a blower door test and completing an inspection. After the audit, a detailed report will be delivered on the changes that can be fulfilled to make a home more energy efficient. This allows homeowners to know where their house is costing them money and how they can remedy it, all for free. Call (812) 865-2229 or toll free at (888) 337-5900 to schedule an Energy Audit or visit Orange County REMC’s website to learn more.