Understanding Cycling Events

During periods of high electricity use in the Mid-Atlantic region, a radio signal may be sent to the programmable thermostat, outdoor air conditioning switch or electric water heater switch at your home to interrupt the flow of electricity to your air conditioning unit or electric water heater for a period of time each hour. This is called cycling. This allows BGE to help maintain reliable service while keeping down the overall cost of electricity for everyone.

Summer cycling events typically occur weekdays, June through September, but can happen during other parts of the year.

Winter cycling events for Electric Water Heater program participants typically occur weekdays, November through February, but can happen during other parts of the year. Winter cycling generally occurs between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. or 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The actual start time, end time, duration and day of the week of each cycling event will vary, and the length of a cycling event will depend on the need for BGE to reduce electric demand. BGE is unable to predict the number of times it will cycle air conditioners or electric heat pumps each year, or the maximum duration. Please make sure that your cycling level still fits the needs of your family in advance of the cycling season.

Your cycling level is the key component of participation in the PeakRewards program. Air Conditioning program participants can choose from three different cycling options, which represent various cycling levels during emergency events. If you have health concerns, are elderly or have pets or children in the home that may be affected by increased temperatures due to a cycling event, we suggest selecting the 50% cycling level or calling the PeakRewards customer hotline at 1.888.309.PEAK (7325) to discuss what option is right for you. Water Heater program

participants cannot choose their cycling. Water heaters are always cycled off during emergency events. Water in the tank should remain warm and available for customer use but new water that is generated will not be heated until after the event is over.

NOTE: As of April 1, 2020, PeakRewards participants may only request a decrease in their cycling level.

PeakRewards participants may not override an emergency event or the transition out of an emergency event. Additionally, participants may not change cycling levels or exit the program during an emergency event or the transition out of the event.

If you scheduled an override and subsequently an emergency event is called on the day you scheduled your override, the override will be canceled. When the emergency event ends, BGE will transition all air conditioning program customers to a lower cycling level for a brief period of time to avoid sudden increases in electric demand which may cause reliability problems.

PeakRewards participants are allowed two overrides during Energy Savings Days each summer. Overrides for Energy Savings Days may be scheduled by calling the PeakRewards customer hotline at 1.888.309.PEAK (7325) or via PeakRewards Online Access.

During an emergency event, regional demand for electricity is close to surpassing regional supply and BGE is required to activate the PeakRewards program. This type of event is usually called to avoid potential brownouts and rolling blackouts. During an emergency event and the transition period after the event, you cannot override your program participation. At these times, Air Conditioning program participants will be cycled up to their chosen cycling level – 50%, 75% or 100%. Additionally, Electric Water Heater program participants will not have any new hot water generated for the duration of the cycling event but the water in their tank should remain warm and available for use.

When you enrolled in the BGE PeakRewards Air Conditioning program, you selected a cycling level (50%, 75% or 100%). This directly relates to the length of cooling time that will be interrupted during an emergency cycling event. However, your air conditioning unit will only be cycled up to the 50% level during an Energy Savings Day event. Please make sure your chosen cycling level fits your lifestyle and comfort. You can request to change your cycling level at any time and this change will typically take effect within 48 hours. However, as of April 1, 2020, PeakRewards participants can only request a decrease in their cycling level.

When you enrolled in the Electric Water Heater program you agreed to have a switch installed on your unit. This switch is designed to turn off electricity to your water heater when cycling events are activated. During an event your water heater will not produce any additional hot water. However, water left in the tank prior to shut off should remain warm and available for use.

Air Conditioning program participants can use up to two overrides on Energy Savings Days each summer. However, overrides cannot be used during emergency or preseason cycling events. Additionally, if you scheduled an override and an emergency event is called on that same day, your override will be canceled.

Summer cycling events will typically occur from June through September and winter Electric Water Heater program cycling events will typically occur from November through February. However, cycling events can happen during other parts of the year, including weekends or holidays.

Cycling typically occurs Monday – Friday but the actual start time, end time, duration and day of the week of each cycling event varies. The length of a cycling event will also depend on the need for BGE to reduce electric demand. Summer events generally begin between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. and could last more than 10 hours if system reliability requires a longer transition to normal operations. Winter events generally occur between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. or 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

BGE is unable to predict the number of times it will cycle air conditioners or electric heat pumps each year, or the maximum duration. If an emergency event is called, it will last until the situation is averted. Additionally, there will be a transition period after the emergency event ends until full operation of your unit is restored. Please make sure that your cycling level still fits the needs of your family in advance of cycling season.

You should typically be able to view your cycling level change on your PeakRewards Online Access account within 48 hours.

NOTE: As of April 1, 2020, PeakRewards participants may only request a decrease in their cycling level or to be completely removed from the program.

There are several ways to know if a cycling event is taking place. Air Conditioning program participants will see the word “SAVINGS” at the top of their programmable thermostat screen, a leaf on their ecobee3 lite smart thermostat or a red light on their outdoor air conditioner switch.
Likewise, Electric Water Heater program participants will see a red light on the front of their electric water heater switch.

A cycling event alert banner will also appear on BGEsavings.com. And participants who have signed up for cycling Event Notifications will receive an email or text at the start and end of every PeakRewards cycling event.

Cycling status messages such as: “You have not been cycled today”, “Currently cycling” or “You have been cycled today” will be also be displayed on the Online Access welcome page.

Air Conditioning program participants may opt out of two Energy Savings Days each summer. These are called overrides and they may be scheduled by calling the PeakRewards customer hotline at 1.888.309.PEAK (7325) or via PeakRewards Online Access.

However, a customer may not override an emergency event or the transition out of an emergency event. Additionally, customers may not change cycling levels or exit the program during an emergency event, preseason cycling event or the transition out of these events. Also, if you scheduled an override and an emergency event is called on the same day, the override will be canceled. When the emergency event ends, BGE will transition all Air Conditioning program participants to a lower cycling level for a brief period of time to avoid sudden increases in electric demand which may cause reliability problems.

During emergency and preseason events — and the remainder of the event day — the following Online Access tools will be temporarily unavailable:

  • The “Override” link
  • The “Set Thermostat Schedules” feature
  • The “Temporarily Adjust Settings” feature

For tips on staying comfortable during an emergency event, visit the Event Central page.

No, there is no limit to the number of hours you can be cycled. The length of a cycling event will depend on the need for BGE to reduce peak electric demand to avoid brownouts and blackouts throughout the mid-Atlantic region. BGE is unable to predict the number of times it will cycle air conditioners or electric heat pumps each year. Additionally, the actual start time, end time and duration of each cycling event will vary. Cycling typically occurs Monday – Friday between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. but may be activated outside that timeframe.

Once a cycling event has fully ended, your air conditioner or heat pump should resume normal operation within 30 minutes. However, the amount of time it takes for your home to return to normal temperature depends on many variables, including the outdoor temperature, how well your home is insulated, the condition of your air conditioner or heat pump, and the duration of the PeakRewards cycling event.

Call the PeakRewards customer hotline at 1.888.309.PEAK (7325) for assistance if a cycling event has ended and you notice one of the following:

  • The word “SAVINGS” still appears on your programmable thermostat screen
  • A leaf icon is still visible on your ecobee3 lite smart thermostat screen
  • If there’s a red light on your outdoor air conditioning switch

Otherwise, if you believe your unit is not operating effectively, please contact your local HVAC contractor. A key cause of ineffective cooling is when the system overheats due to a dirty air filter or clogged drain lines, or insufficient refrigerant — all of which can be avoided with routine system maintenance.

Preseason cycling events are called to test system operations and customer communications ahead of the summer cycling season in June. BGE is activating this cycling event outside of the normal summer months to minimize the impact on PeakRewards participants and to make sure all systems are functioning properly before the summer cycling season. Keep in mind that while cycling events typically occur during the months of June through September, they can happen during other parts of the year.

BGE is required by PJM Interconnection, the Regional Transmission Operator for the Mid-Atlantic region, to activate a planned emergency event during the summer months if an actual Emergency Event is not called to ensure system operation compliance. The planned emergency event will only occur if required to ensure system operations are in compliance with PJM standards.

The planned emergency event will likely take place in late-September. To minimize potential customer inconvenience, we anticipate the event will likely take place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

PeakRewards Air Conditioning program participants will be cycled up to their chosen cycling level (50%, 75% or 100%) and will not be able to override participation in the preseason or emergency cycling event. If you have a medical or health issue that may impact program participation or require assistance, please call the PeakRewards customer hotline at 1.888.309.PEAK (7325).

PeakRewards Electric Water Heater program participants will have power to their water heater interrupted and no additional hot water will be produced for the duration of the event. You will not be able to override participation in the preseason or emergency cycling event. If you have a medical or health issue that may impact program participation or require assistance, please call the PeakRewards customer hotline at 1.888.309.PEAK (7325).