Did you know that natural gas is the primary heating fuel for nearly half of the homes in the U.S.? With residential spending on winter natural gas bills largely being determined by the retail price of natural gas and the amount of natural gas consumed, the U.S. Energy Information Administration is predicting natural gas bills will be 30% higher this winter than last winter.

Across the country, natural gas consumers should expect to see massive jumps in their gas utility bills this winter as the February 2021 cold wave that impacted most of the country — particularly Texas and the Midwest — low natural gas storage inventories, system constraints and forecasts of colder conditions this winter are combining to force utilities to pass on the cost of steep natural gas inflation to consumers.

To better manage energy loads, work toward providing customers with even more clean energy options and ensure its service remains reliable and affordable for consumers, Xcel Energy recently committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from its natural gas business by 2050. Copper Labs is pleased to expand our work with the industry-leading utility by exploring natural gas demand response potential with a Heat Savers Mode Study. 

Heat Savers Mode Study

This study is available to residential customers in Summit County who can earn an incentive for adjusting their smart thermostat on peak demand days this winter. By deploying Copper’s wireless energy monitor — in combination with the smart thermostat — Xcel Energy will be able to correlate smart thermostat information with gas usage data to understand how adjusting the thermostat to save on heat at certain times can potentially reduce a home’s natural gas usage during peak use times. 

Summit County’s rugged terrain makes it a popular mountain destination for ski and outdoor enthusiasts, but it also makes building natural gas infrastructure incredibly difficult. Load control and demand response have the potential to help Xcel Energy make better use of existing natural gas pipelines by helping flatten the load curve rather than building new pipelines for a few peaks per year. 

Demand response has been around for the electrical side for years, but the natural gas sector is now increasingly seeing the need to manage usage during specific times to reduce load and safely and reliably manage natural gas capacity. Most natural gas utilities, including Xcel Energy, gather energy usage data only every 30 days or so. But with Copper, Xcel Energy is able to receive usage data every 30 seconds from existing meters, no electrician or plumber is needed. By utilizing our innovative wireless meter reader as an energy monitor, Xcel Energy is empowered with more granular usage data to validate and understand what energy reductions are happening from controlling thermostats while also understanding geographically tagged load shapes and daily peaks over time in order to better plan its system.

As the Heat Savers Mode Study gets underway, we’re thrilled to partner with Xcel Energy to help inform its first-of-its-kind, future-facing natural gas strategy and explore demand response options for natural gas. We want to congratulate Xcel Energy for its clean energy leadership, and we are proud to be a part of its vision for delivering net-zero energy by 2050.