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Avoid the Rush. Test Drive Demand Side Management Now

- September 21, 2009 - 1 Comment

I once heard a sage piece of advice for two-income families who plan to become single-income families: test drive the one-income lifestyle. While you still have both your jobs, stash the income from the job you’re considering dropping and try living on the income you intend to retain. See what changes you’ll need to make while you still have some margin for experimentation and adjustment. This “test drive” lets you find the perfect RoI for your family before the change takes effect. 

Thinking about it, the same piece of advice is good for business and residential customers who plan to use demand side management (DSM) to cut energy costs. A key feature of the smart grid, demand side management lets utility customers cut energy costs by shifting energy consumption to times when power costs less. While off-peak pricing may not be available from your utility now, it will be in the future. And it can make a big difference in your energy costs and your carbon footprint. But taking advantage of DSM requires planning, and that’s something you can start right away. Working with an energy Demand Response (DR) expert such as EnerNOC ( to plan your DSM program is immensely helpful, but first do some homework on your own.

Start by finding out from your energy utility when low cost periods will be. Then start mapping work load to these low cost periods. Which jobs can be done at during the low cost times, and which must be done during peak demand periods? Can certain operations or appliances simply be shut down during peak cost periods? Use this information to start building an operation schedule for your home or business. Perhaps the dishwasher only runs at midnight, or the manufacturing prep work is always done on third shift. Whatever the changes in operation schedule, it’s time to start planning them now so you can identify any consequent adjustments you’ll need to make in your routine and processes. 

Next, build the new schedules that will allow these shifts in production, including personal, shopping, employee, equipment maintenance, and delivery schedules. Make notes of tools—for example, timers for appliances—you’ll need to make these schedules work. Finally, start operating on this schedule even before DSM programs go into effect. No, there may not be cost savings for you yet, but it’s good practice and good for your community to lower your energy usage during peak demand periods. 

By planning and implementing adjustments now, you can find the perfect RoI for your home and business before implementing DSM. What’s more your transition to DSM will be much smoother, and when DSM is available, you can start lowering your energy bills and enjoying that return on investment right away.

 For more ideas on how to get bigger results with a smaller carbon footprint, visit

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  1. Great information here Tere!Another good resource for your readers is the US Energy Information Administration which can help you estimate the cost savings of many of these activities within the real estate itself.See here:!