SALT LAKE CITY -- With temperatures in the triple digits for the fourth straight day the last thing you might expect Rocky Mountain Power to do is ask you to turn off your air conditioner, but the power company says it's a good thing.
It's part of their Cool Keeper Program, which has gained more than 100,000 participating customers over the past 10 years.
Rocky Mountain Power will install a Cool Keeper device onto your air conditioner free of charge. Then on particularly hot days, when the demand for electricity is at its max, a radio signal will be sent to various air conditioners, shutting some of them down, so they are not all running at the same time.
"This is our peak use of electricity during these hot summer months, in particularly these hot days like today," said Margaret Oler, spokeswoman for Rocky Mountain Power. "By coordinating the coming on and going off of these air conditioning compressors throughout an entire population that utilizes the system more efficiently."
Dan Waldron is the maintenance supervisor at the Foothill Place Apartments. He's in charge of 450 air conditioning units, each one of them hooked up to the Cool Keeper device.
"Four hundred-fifty units on this property, running all the time, it uses a lot of electricity, if they shut them off for 10 to 15 minutes at a time no one realizes they are off, they come back on, they work fine, we are saving energy and not affecting anyone," Waldron said.
The air conditioner is usually turned off for about 10 to 15 minutes, then turned back on for about 10 to 15 minutes. This process could continue up to four hours a day. According to Rocky Mountain Power, it’s enough to make a difference, but not enough to notice.
"It's very effective in keeping the demand for electricity lower, which is really best for all customers," Oler said.
Waldron said he hasn't come across any issues.
"Don't really know they are there, haven't had any issues with them, no complaints from the residents so it seems like a great idea," Waldron said.
Rocky Mountain Power officials say the more of these devices that are in operation the more protected they are from overloading the grid and a blackout occurring.
"If the power goes out for two hours people are going to notice that it's hot, if they shut off for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, people don't notice so it's just a small price to pay for a better cause," Waldron said.
Rocky Mountain Power is so dedicated to this program they will pay you to use it. If you sign up for the Cool Keeper Program you will get $20 off your bill at the end of the summer.