Home » Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

All Fort Collins Utilities single-family residential and small commercial electric customers with:

  • Central air conditioning units or a heat pump and central heat; and
  • Broadband Wi-Fi Internet access.

(Fort Collins Utilities' customers who rent are eligible if the landlord/property manager enrolls the property.)

Yes. Please be aware that the temperature inside the house could increase a few degrees during a Peak Partners conservation event and you should take that into consideration before enrolling.

Customers must have central air conditioning and heating in good working order. Customers with only window or room air conditioners or multi-zone systems are not eligible.

Supported browsers include: Chrome version 30 and above, Firefox version 20 and above, Safari version 6.2 and above and Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) version 10 and above. Supported operating systems include iPhone iOS 7 and above and Android 4.4 KitKat and above.

As Fort Collins continues to grow, and more residents acquire central air conditioning, large refrigerators, freezers and other energy-hungry appliances, the demand for energy increases. To help manage the growing demand for electricity in Fort Collins, Peak Partners was developed to help reduce peak electricity demand during the summer months when usage is at its highest.

The goal is to reduce peak electricity demand through technology and engagement with our customers using highly specific, tailored, actionable energy saving tips to save money. Peak Partners is a flexible, cost-effective residential energy management solution that combines peak electricity reduction and energy efficiency for our electricity customers and Fort Collins.

When you enroll in Peak Partners, we'll professionally install a Peak Partners web-programmable thermostat in your home. On selected days in May through September, we'll automatically cycle the compressors of participating customers' central air conditioners and heat pumps off and on to help balance the region's demand for electricity. These events are known as Peak Partners "conservation events." Peak Partners works best when it is truly a community-wide effort.

The number of Peak Partners conservation events depends on many factors, including weather, peak electricity demand and wholesale energy costs. Fort Collins expects no more than 20 conservation events per summer, or about four events per month.

Peak Partners conservation events occur May through September on select hot days and will typically occur during the afternoon to early evening. Conservation events typically last two to four hours.

When a Peak Partners conservation event is called, your device will receive a signal that will put your cooling unit's compressor into a "conservation mode."

For all cycling levels, the fan will continue to circulate air even though the compressor has a reduced operating time. Below is an explanation of the cycling level:

  • Cycling Level
    • 50% cycling — Your compressor operates 50% of the amount of time that it did in the prior hour. Most participants won't notice the average 1- to 3-degree rise in temperature during a typical conservation event.

There are no on-going costs to participate in Peak Partners.

No, there are no penalties for withdrawing from Peak Partners. Fort Collins Utilities will not remove the web-programmable thermostat from the property when a customer withdraws from the program. To withdraw, contact the Peak Partners call center toll free at 855-350-1464 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

A Peak Partners web-programmable thermostat is a digital thermostat that allows you to adjust the temperature settings of your home from a smartphone, tablet or computer via the Internet to your preset schedule. (Note: The temperature also may be adjusted manually at the thermostat.)

During times of peak electricity demand, your Peak Partners web-programmable thermostat will receive a signal to initiate a conservation event. The signal operates on a unique frequency and will not interfere with any other wireless devices in your home.

Participants in Peak Partners may access the thermostat settings through a portal from a computer or mobile device. Any changes made on the thermostat are reflected in the portal and vice versa. There could be a delay in the displaying a new set point in the portal if the change was done at the thermostat; however, the change in the set point is effective immediately.

Energy tips are provided by Peak Partners based on energy-related criteria input by participants. The tips will be specific and can include methods of saving electricity on air conditioners, clothes dryers or other appliances. These tips may be communicated by e-mail or directly on the portal based on customer preference. You must be a participant in Peak Partners to receive the tailored energy tips.

While you can temporarily adjust your temperature settings up and down on your thermostat itself, the more advanced custom settings are available to you only online through your computer or mobile device.

Participants in Peak Partners may receive specific electricity usage data for your home.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), depending on usage patterns and how effectively you program the thermostat, it is possible to save as much as 10% annually on home cooling and heating costs. This assumes you decrease your thermostat to a lower temperature in the winter and increase your thermostat to use less energy when you are not home in the summer.

Participants in Peak Partners will receive a state-of-the-art web-programmable thermostat(s), including professional installation. The thermostats and system provide 24x7 control, convenience and the opportunity to better control heating and cooling expenses.

In addition to the thermostat, participants in Peak Partners will receive energy tips specific to their electricity usage habits. These tips are meant to make customers more aware of ways to save money through their everyday use of air conditioners, clothes dryers, pool pumps or by household upgrades such as adding insulation.

Times of critical (or peak) electricity demand occur when utility customers use electricity at the same time, creating overloads on the energy supply. Peak Partners is just one way Fort Collins is managing the rising demand for electricity, deferring the construction of high-cost power plants to help keep electricity rates lower, and helping the environment by reducing emissions produced on hot days.

No. Conservation events will occur within the months of May through September.

You may or may not notice that a Peak Partners conservation event is even occurring. During the course of a conservation event, the temperature in a typical home may rise slightly, depending on the cycling level and solar exposure of your home. Variables such as home insulation, shaded windows, the addition of ceiling fans and the amount of home foot traffic are some of the factors that can affect indoor temperature.

During conservation events, Peak Partners operates through the use of a radio frequency (RF) signal. RF broadcasts are used for things like TV and radio broadcasts, mobile phones, microwave ovens, radar, and the Wi-Fi devices that give us Internet access. Standards and protocols have been set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and all radio communicating devices must be tested to ensure they transmit within a safe level. Radio waves emitted by web-programmable thermostats are a small fraction of those of wireless phones and is no different than your laptop operating over Wi-Fi, even at very close proximity, and are thus well below regulatory limits set for safety.

Check your Peak Partners thermostat. When a conservation event occurs, the left LED will glow green and the display will read "CONTROL ACTIVE MORE THAN/LESS THAN 2 HRS REMAINING" at the top of the screen. You also will receive a notification through your Peak Partners web/mobile application and email (if you have not opted out of email communications).

Yes, you can override twice per summer via the mobile application.

Central air conditioners create increased demand for electricity, both straining the power system and impacting short-term power prices. Participating in Peak Partners helps reduce peak energy use of central air conditioning, and adopting the provided energy tips are ways to help reduce demand and to favorably impact short-term power prices. On an individual basis, one participant's contribution may seem small, but when all the program participants are joined together, the combined system impacts are significant and provide real system benefits.

By reducing electricity demand during a conservation event and adopting practices outlined in the homeowner-specific energy tips, Peak Partners reduces emissions by avoiding the need to produce that amount of electricity. When demand for electricity is at its highest and supplies are strained, less efficient power plants must be brought into operation to meet demand. Less efficient power plants generally mean higher emissions. The Peak Partners program also helps reduce the need to build additional power plants.


About Your Thermostat Installation

Yes. Our technicians will install the thermostat inside your home. You will need to schedule an appointment and a responsible adult over the age of 18 must be present to allow our technician entry into your home to perform the installation. The adult present needs to provide the Wi-Fi password of your router; this allows the technician to configure the thermostat with your Wi-Fi.

Installation of the new thermostat and removal of your old thermostat will take approximately one hour. However, our technician will help you program your new thermostat and answer any questions you may have. The person over 18 should know the Wi-Fi password of your Wi-Fi router to successfully register your new thermostat with the Internet.

Generally, installation takes place within one month of your enrollment, although you can schedule an installation at your convenience, including Saturdays.

If you have a question about your thermostat installation or about the program, just call us toll-free at 855-350-1464 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. If there is an issue after 6 p.m. on a weekday or weekend, an after-hours technician is available for emergency calls.

The technician may determine that your air conditioning system either (a) is not compatible with the thermostat being installed, or (b) has a problem that prevents installation without repairs being done first.

  1. Some customers have thermostats that are not compatible with the thermostats being offered in this program. An example would be a thermostat that has added functionality such as air quality control in the home. In these instances, the thermostat offered in this program would not be suitable as it would not support the added functionality in the existing thermostat.

  2. If problems with your existing air conditioning equipment are identified in the thermostat installation, the technician will explain the situation and your options. You may participate once the system repairs are completed by your HVAC contractor. Note that our technicians are not allowed to make repairs for you. If there are fundamental or major problems with your system, or it is incompatible with the Peak Partners equipment, you also will be notified of the situation, and what options, if any, may exist for you to participate in the program.

    If it is of assistance to you, Fort Collins Utilities, in collaboration with Platte River Power Authority's Efficiency Works-Homes (EW-Home) Program, maintains a list of residential mechanical system contractors who have met certain training and quality installation practice requirements. The list of participating contractors can be found on the Efficiency Works website at: http://efficiencyworks.prpa.org/find-a-provider/.


Privacy FAQs

No. Although installation of the Peak Partners thermostat requires that the thermostat be linked to your Wi-Fi system for communications purposes, the password is not retained or shared with any other party. The thermostat uses the "XMPP protocol" to enable your PC and mobile device access, as well as to communicate back to the Utilities. The XMPP protocol is widely used by Instant Messaging (IM) services. In the same way that your IM provider does not know your Wi-Fi password, Fort Collins Utilities does not know your Wi-Fi password.

No. The data collected does not indicate whether or not people are present in their homes. The thermostat only collects temperature settings, indoor temperature, thermostat operation mode (heat, cool) and HVAC run-time. The "Vacation" and "Away" functions are locally controlled by the thermostat and are not shared with Fort Collins Utilities.

The thermostat collects information on temperature settings, indoor temperature, thermostat operation mode (heat, cool) and HVAC run-time. This data is securely transmitted back to Utilities. The thermostat does not collect information on the occupancy of the home.

If you opt out of the program, in order to keep the thermostat, the same information as described in "What data is collected?" above will continue to be gathered.

The data will be kept for a minimum of two years. One of the outcomes of this initial phase of Peak Partners will be to determine the maximum length of time that data will be retained.

Utilities' staff analyzes this data to refine the Peak Partners program and optimize benefits to both participants and the utility system.

No. The collected data will not be sold to any third party.

Fort Collins Utilities takes data privacy very seriously and complies with local, state and federal laws to protect our customers' personal data and information. All customer information - including personal data, utility use and more - are strictly protected. Fort Collins Utilities is subject to the Colorado Open Records Act and Fort Collins Municipal Code, which govern the accessibility of public records. Utilities is also subject to the Red Flags Rules of the FACT Act (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003), which requires creditors to create and implement a program to detect, prevent and mitigate identity theft.


Fort Collins Utilities is offering the new water heater program as part of Peak Partners. The program reduces peak demand on the electricity grid, which helps keep the cost for power low. Peak Partners is a flexible, cost-effective residential energy management solution that combines peak electricity reduction and energy efficiency.

Landlords and/or property managers and tenants agree to have the water heaters in their apartment complexes equipped with two-way communication devices. These switches are remotely activated to temporarily turn off water heaters for short periods of time when the city's electric grid approaches peak capacity.

Participants receive $4 each month, or $48 annually, issued as a credit on their monthly electric bill. Landlords or property managers earn $12 annually for each participating unit and their help coordinating installation and maintenance visits.

All Fort Collins Utilities residential and small commercial electric customers who have an electric water heater (minimum of 3,500 watts) and who do not benefit from load limiting devices, such as demand controllers or water heater timers, may participate. Customers who have solar or other assisted water heating systems are eligible for half the $4 monthly credit.

The number of conservation events depends on many factors, including weather, peak electricity demand and wholesale energy costs. Over the last few years, in the Fort Collins Utilities former Hot Shot program, water heater "conservation events" occurred annually about 40 times over the course of 12 months.

Typically, conservation events occur on selected days between 3 and 6 p.m., May through September, and between 5 and 9 p.m., October through April. The average duration of a typical conservation period is two hours. A single event may be as brief as 30 minutes or last up to 4 hours and will rarely occur on weekends.

Conservation events are short enough and water heaters are large enough (40 to 60 gallons) so there is plenty of hot water for household use and typically you will not notice a difference.

Participants may not opt out of any conservation event once it is underway. However, if you foresee the need to avoid participation in a conservation event, you can call 855-350-1464 in advance and schedule your water heater to not participate in up to four events per year. In the case of an emergency or if you decide to leave the program, the communication device on your water heater may be remotely deactivated. Once this occurs, you will stop receiving your $4 monthly bill credit.

If certain tenants do not wish to participate, we can remotely deactivate their equipment and they will not receive any credits on their electricity bill. The conservation device can be remotely reactivated when a new tenant chooses to participate.

There are no costs to participate in the Peak Partners water heater program.

No. Other than the money saved by the program reward credits, there should not be any change in monthly electricity costs since the energy consumption of the water heater only is being delayed, not cancelled.

No, there are no penalties for withdrawing from the program. Fort Collins Utilities will not remove the two-way communication device from your water heater if you decide to leave the program. To withdraw, contact the Peak Partners call center toll-free at 855-350-1464 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Times of critical (or peak) electricity demand occur when utility customers use electricity at the same time, creating overloads on the energy supply. Peak Partners is just one way Fort Collins is managing the rising demand for electricity, deferring the construction of high-cost power plants to help keep electricity rates lower, and helping the environment by reducing emissions that otherwise would have been produced.

You will see an LED light on the two-way indicator device when an event is underway.

Fort Collins Utilities' goal is to reduce peak electricity demand through energy-saving technology and engagement with our customers.

The Peak Partners water heater program helps reduce peak energy use of water heaters. Less electricity demand at peak times can favorably impact short-term power prices. A single participant's contribution may seem small but, when program participants join together, the system impacts can be significant and provide real broad-based benefits.

By reducing electricity demand during a conservation event, Peak Partners reduces emissions by avoiding the need to produce that amount of electricity. When demand for electricity is at its highest and supplies are strained, less efficient power plants must be used to meet demand. Less efficient power plants generally mean higher emissions. The Peak Partners program also helps reduce the need to build additional power plants.


About Your Digital Switch Installation

Yes. Our technicians will install the device on your water heater. You will need to schedule an appointment and a responsible adult over the age of 18 must be present to allow our technician into your home to perform the installation.

Installation of the new device will take approximately one hour.

It's up to you. To sign up for the Peak Partners water heater program and schedule an installation appointment, call us toll-free at 855-350-1464 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can schedule an installation at your convenience, including Saturdays.

If you have a question about your installation or about the program, just call us toll-free at 855-350-1464 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. If there is an issue after 6 p.m. weekdays or on a weekend, an after-hours technician is available for emergency calls.

The technician may determine that your water heater either (a) is not compatible with the unit being installed, or (b) has a problem that prevents installation without repairs first being made to the water heater.

Through Efficiency Works, Fort Collins Utilities maintains a list of residential mechanical system contractors who meet certain requirements. For details and the list of contractors, visit efficiencyworks.prpa.org/find-a-provider. Fort Collins Utilities collaborates with Platte River Power Authority on Efficiency Works programs for homes and businesses.


Privacy FAQs

No. The data collected does not indicate whether or not people are present in their homes. The water heater digital switch only collects data related to when energy is being used by the electric water heater.

The digital switch collects information on power status (on/off) for the water heater and heating elements runtime (i.e., when energy is used to warm up the water). This data is securely transmitted back to the Utilities. The digital switch does not collect information on the occupancy of the home.

If you, as a tenant, opt out of the program, the same information as described in "What data is collected?" (above) will continue to be gathered.

The data will be kept for a minimum of two years. One of the outcomes of this initial phase of Peak Partners will be to determine the maximum length of time that data will be retained.

Utilities' staff analyzes this data to refine the Peak Partners program and optimize benefits to both participants and the utility system.

No. The collected data will not be sold to any third party.

Fort Collins Utilities takes data privacy very seriously and complies with local, state and federal laws to protect our customers' personal data and information. All customer information – including personal data, utility use and more – are strictly protected. Fort Collins Utilities is subject to the Colorado Open Records Act and Fort Collins Municipal Code, which govern the accessibility of public records. Utilities is also subject to the Red Flags Rules of the FACT Act (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003), which requires creditors to create and implement a program to detect, prevent and mitigate identity theft.


All Fort Collins Utilities single-family residential and small and medium commercial electricity customers.

An energy monitor informs you in real time (and over time) about your household electricity use. It provides visual displays of your current and past usage in kilowatts (kW), kilowatt hours (kWh), dollars and cents. Being able to track your electricity use as you're using it allows you to see what it’s costing you to run appliances, TVs and home office equipment.

The Peak Partners Energy Monitor uses a secure, encrypted wireless connection to join with your Fort Collins Utilities smart meter. It will be configured (linked) exclusively to your home's electric meter by Fort Collins Utilities when you call us at 855-350-1464 from your home. At that time Fort Collins Utilities will activate the wireless monitor-to-meter link. Only your particular energy monitor will be able to "talk" to your meter.

The energy monitor is a wireless device (similar to a Wi-Fi device) and so, needs to be nearby the meter to receive the signal from it. Typical range is about 75 feet, but actual range depends on number of walls and any obstruction between meter and monitor.

No. You borrow the monitor from any branch of the Fort Collins Library, the same as you would a book. Fort Collins Utilities will remotely configure the monitor to your home's smart meter at no cost to you. If you are happy with the performance of the monitor, you will be able to purchase one directly from different online retailers.

The energy monitor provides your home electricity usage in real-time. It also provides your usage history, comparative information and associated costs.

If you have a question about your energy monitor or about the program, just call us toll-free at 855-350-1464 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Yes, you will need to call us from your home at 855-350-1464. At that time, we'll take you through a few brief steps to activate the link between your energy monitor and your home's smart meter.

If you move, your device will no longer work with the meter at your previous address or initially at your new home. Once your Fort Collins Utilities account at your new home is active, you can then contact us to activate the link between your energy monitor and the smart meter at your new home.

Please call us at 855-350-1464 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Please note that if you are moving from a detached or semi-detached home to another dwelling type, such as a condo there is a chance your energy monitor will not work at your new location.

Home energy monitors establish a secure, wireless connection with the electricity meter at your home to provide real-time energy use and cost feedback. The wireless technology used is similar to that used by a cordless telephone. The Peak Partners Energy Monitor is a ZigBee© certified product.

As your energy provider, Fort Collins Utilities has access to your electricity usage information, but not in real-time. However, apart from Fort Collins Utilities, only you and those you authorize can view the information provided by your energy monitor. Only the energy monitor registered to your home's smart meter will give you access to your real-time home energy usage and associated data.

Yes. Only the energy monitor registered to the meter at your home will display your home energy usage information. Only you and those you authorize will be able to view your real-time electricity usage data or associated information.

It’s far easier to manage something you can actually measure and track.

Home energy monitors provide up-to-the-moment electricity usage information in kilowatts, killowatt hours and in dollars and cents. Real-time feedback helps you understand when you are using more electricity and when you are being energy efficient. By turning appliances on and off, you’ll discover which ones may be consuming more energy than you thought. For instance, the cell phone chargers, paper shredder and gadgets most often left plugged in when not in use could make a notable difference if turned off, or even better, if unplugged. When you actually can watch how you use energy, it makes it easier to conserve it … which will likely be reflected on your bill.

After borrowing an energy monitor from the library, connect it to a power source in your home. Then, turn it on, and call 855-350-1464 to activate the link between it and your home's smart meter.

Your Fort Collins Utilities electric bill is calculated using your "official" electricity usage and includes any applicable taxes and charges.

The Peak Partners Home Energy Monitor provides a close approximation of your electricity usage in real-time and an approximation of your electricity usage up to the previous day. The device is intended to help you understand where, when and how you are using electricity so that you can more easily save energy and money.

The information in dollars and cents has to be programmed by the user. In order to do so, push both buttons for five seconds and release them. You will be prompted for "Restart?". Select skip and go through the configuration menus to enter the price per kWh. You can find information on the price per kWh at http://www.fcgov.com/utilities/residential/rates/electric


Privacy FAQs

No. The data collected does not indicate whether or not people are present in their homes. The energy monitor only collects whole house energy (kWh) and power (kW) use.

The energy monitor device collects whole house energy usage from the electric meter in your home. However, the data collected in the energy monitor is not transmitted back to Utilities, nor is it used for billing purposes.

The data stored in the energy monitor is deleted after the device is returned to the library.

The data collected by the home energy monitor device is only used by the customer using the device.

No. The collected data will not be sold to any third party.

Fort Collins Utilities takes data privacy very seriously and complies with local, state and federal laws to protect our customers' personal data and information. All customer information - including personal data, utility use and more - are strictly protected. Fort Collins Utilities is subject to the Colorado Open Records Act and Fort Collins Municipal Code, which govern the accessibility of public records. Utilities is also subject to the Red Flags Rules of the FACT Act (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003), which requires creditors to create and implement a program to detect, prevent and mitigate identity theft.


Platte River Power Authority is the bulk energy supplier for, and jointly owned by, Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont and Estes Park. For more information, please visit prpa.org/about-prpa.

Fort Collins Utilities and Longmont Power and Communication are partnering with Platte River Power Authority to bring further value to the communities by coordinating electric peak avoidance and optimizing generation resources across the region.

Until summer of 2017, the Peak Partners program delivered peak avoidance benefits to the City of Fort Collins. This new approach will deliver peak avoidance benefits and better generation resource management to the whole Northern Colorado region. Expected benefits include contractually guaranteed peak avoidance costs, optimized generation resource management, lessened electric transmission stress and renewable integration support.

Conservation events will still last between two and three hours. The total number of conservation events per year also will be similar. The most notable difference for participating customers will likely be the timing of conservation events. The familiar pattern of late afternoon to early evening conservation events might change to better fit the actual system needs from an electricity transmission and generation perspective.

Yes, you still can override events, just as before. You can override twice per summer via the portal. If you need further overrides, please call 855-350-1464.

If you'd like to keep contributing and remain a part of Peak Partners, yes. In order to see the maximum benefit for the Northern Colorado electric grid, all Peak Partners resources and Longmont Power and Communication resources are being pooled together into this new program. On an individual basis, one participant's contribution may be small, but when all program participants are joined together, the combined system impacts are significant and provide real system benefits.


Privacy FAQs

Platte River Power Authority will have full access to the Peak Partners Program information as it is currently available to Fort Collins Utilities, including participating customers' energy usage, name, address, phone number and email. Financial and payment information will not be shared with Platte River Power Authority. Platte River will not share your account information with any third parties.

Platte River and Utilities' staff analyze this data to refine the Peak Partners program and optimize benefits to both participants and the utility system. The collected data will not be given or sold to any third parties.

Fort Collins Utilities takes data privacy very seriously and complies with local, state and federal laws to protect our customers' personal data and information. All customer information – including personal data, utility use and more – are strictly protected. Fort Collins Utilities is subject to the Colorado Open Records Act and Fort Collins Municipal Code, which govern the accessibility of public records, and the Red Flags Rules of the FACT Act (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003), which requires creditors to create and implement a program to detect, prevent and mitigate identity theft.

Fort Collins Utilities may provide Platte River (as an agent of the City of Fort Collins) with confidential utility customer information to the extent required solely for implementation of the applicable demand response program. Platte River agrees to keep such information confidential and will not disclose any information, except as required by law.


Privacy

Fort Collins Utilities takes data privacy very seriously and complies with local, state and federal laws to protect our customers' personal data and information. All customer information - including personal data, utility use and more - are strictly protected. Fort Collins Utilities is subject to the Colorado Open Records Act and Fort Collins Municipal Code, which govern the accessibility of public records. Utilities is also subject to the Red Flags Rules of the FACT Act (Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003), which requires creditors to create and implement a program to detect, prevent and mitigate identity theft.