Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible to participate in Peak Partners?
All Fort Collins Utilities single-family residential and small commercial electric customers with:
- Central air conditioning units or a heat pump and central heat
- Broadband Wi-Fi internet access.
(Fort Collins Utilities’ rental customers are eligible if the landlord/property manager enrolls the property.)
My household has an occupant with a medical condition that may be affected by temperature changes. Am I able to participate?
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.
Are there any requirements for my A/C system to be able to participate?
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.
Which browsers and mobile operating systems are supported by the portal?
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.
Why are you offering Peak Partners?
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, 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 for our customers, using highly specific, tailored, actionable energy-saving tips to save money. Peak Partners is a flexible, residential energy management solution that combines peak electricity reduction and energy efficiency for Fort Collins customers.
How does Peak Partners work?
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.
How often will the program be activated?
The number of Peak Partners conservation events depends on many factors, including weather, peak electricity demand and wholesale energy costs. Fort Collins Utilities expects no more than 20 conservation events per summer, or about four events per month.
When and for how long will a conservation event last?
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 2 to 4 hours.
What is "cycling"?
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. For example, a 50% cycling level means that your compressor operates for half the time it did in the previous hour. Most participants won’t notice the average 1 to 3-degree rise in temperature during a typical conservation event.
Are there any costs to participate in Peak Partners?
There are no on-going costs to participate in Peak Partners.
Are there penalties for withdrawing from 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.
What is a web-programmable thermostat?
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. 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.
How can I program my thermostat through the internet and receive my energy tips?
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 displaying a new set point in the portal if the change was made on 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 email or directly on the portal based on customer preference. You must be a participant in Peak Partners to receive the custom energy tips.
Can I change my custom settings on my programmable thermostat?
While you can temporarily adjust your temperature settings up and down on your thermostat, the more advanced custom settings are available to you only online through your computer or mobile device.
What other information can I find in the Peak Partners online tool?
Participants in Peak Partners may receive specific electricity usage data for your home.
How much can I expect my programmable thermostat to save me on my cooling and heating costs?
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.
I’ve received a letter/postcard saying that my thermostat is no longer supported, what does that mean?
The manufacturer is no longer making your version of the thermostat. If your thermostat stops working, we can swap out a similar spare for you at no cost. These thermostat models have a very low failure rate. A replacement spare thermostat should operate for at least another 4 years without any problems.
How can Peak Partners benefit me?
Participants in Peak Partners will receive a state-of-the-art web-programmable thermostat(s), including professional installation. The thermostats and system provide 24×7 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 everyday use of air conditioners, clothes dryers, pool pumps or household upgrades such as adding insulation.
What causes "times of critical electricity demand?"
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 method Fort Collins is using to manage 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.
Can a conservation event occur outside of the months of the Peak Partners cooling season?
No. Conservation events will occur only between May and September.
Will Peak Partners affect my comfort level?
You may or may not notice that a Peak Partners conservation event is even occurring. During 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, use of ceiling fans and the amount of home foot traffic are some of the factors that can affect indoor temperature.
Is there a health concern with the radio frequency (RF) signal used by the Peak Partners thermostats?
During conservation events, Peak Partners operates on an RF signal. RF broadcasts are used for things like TV and radio, mobile phones, microwave ovens, radar and 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. The amount of radio waves emitted by web-programmable thermostats is a small fraction of what comes from wireless phones and no different than your laptop operating over Wi-Fi, even at very close proximity. It is well below regulatory safety limits.
How will I know when a Peak Partners conservation event is occurring?
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).
Am I permitted to "override" a conservation event?
Yes, you can override a conservation event twice per summer via the mobile application.
How does Peak Partners benefit my community?
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. Adopting the provided energy tips can help reduce demand and 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.
How does Peak Partners help the environment?
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.
What about Time-of-Day (TOD) rates?
Fort Collins Utilities implemented Time-of-Day (TOD) rates on October 1, 2018. This means during four or five hours of the day, depending on the season, using electricity is more expensive. The Peak Partners thermostats have a pre-loaded schedule which reduces electricity use during the most expensive hours of the day, enabling you to save money.
Where can I find the Time-of-Day savings schedule for my thermostat?
After logging into your thermostat portal, select the “Schedule” tab and look for the drop-down menu at the top of the page and choose “Time-of-Day Savings.” If you need assistance, please call 855-350-1464.
About Your Thermostat Installation
Do I need to be home when the Peak Partners thermostat is installed?
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 to enter your home and perform the installation. The adult present needs to provide the Wi-Fi router password so the technician can configure the thermostat with your Wi-Fi.
How long will the installation take?
Installation of the new thermostat and removal of your old thermostat will take approximately one hour. Our technician will help you program your new thermostat and answer any questions.
When will the thermostat be installed?
Generally, installation takes place within one month of your enrollment, although you can schedule an installation at your convenience, including Saturdays.
What if there’s a problem?
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 during the weekend, an after-hours technician is available for emergency calls.
What if there’s a problem with my existing air conditioning equipment?
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 made first.
- 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.
- 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. The technician will tell you if there are fundamental or major problems with your system, or if it is incompatible with the Peak Partners equipment, and what options may exist for you to participate in the program.For your information, Fort Collins Utilities has collaborated with Platte River Power Authority’s Efficiency Works-Homes (EW-Home) Program, which 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: https://efficiencyworks.org/resources/find-a-service-provider/.
Does Fort Collins Utilities keep my Wi-Fi password?
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 will not know your Wi-Fi password.
Does Fort Collins Utilities know if I’m home or away?
No. The data collected does not indicate if people are present in their homes. The “Vacation” and “Away” functions are locally controlled by the thermostat and are not shared with Fort Collins Utilities.
What data is collected?
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 I opt out of the program, what data is being collected?
To keep the thermostat, if you opt out of the program, the same information as described in “What data is collected” above will continue to be gathered.
How long is the data kept?
The data will be kept for a minimum of two years.
How will the collected data be used?
Utilities’ staff analyzes this data to refine the Peak Partners program and optimize benefits to both participants and the utility system.
Will the collected data be sold?
No. The collected data will not be sold to any third party.
How is the data protected?
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, is 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.