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How APS customers can save on summer bills

Posted at 7:08 PM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 22:08:22-04

PHOENIX — Summertime in Arizona is when most residents brace for high electric bills, but not Abhay Padgaonkar.

"I literally cut my bills in half," he told ABC15.

Padgaonkar knows more about the topic than most.

He was the expert witness in Stacey Champion's 2018 complaint against Arizona Public Service (APS) which alleged the utility was making more money than allowed.

"And as part of that, I analyzed close to 10 million bills, residential bills," he said

That dispute was resolved in the utility's rate case earlier this year and he's using what he's learned to help APS customers pay as little as possible.

"I am thoroughly familiar with how the bills work, what different rates there are, and more importantly, what one needs to do to save money," Padgaonkar said.

First, he says you need a programmable thermostat.

"They're very cheaply available on the APS marketplace, especially if you sign up for their cool rewards program," he added.

Then find out which of the three rate plans you are on.

There is a fixed-rate plan. "(The rate) Doesn't change at all night day, summer, winter, doesn't matter. It's the same rate," he said.

The other two plans are Time of Use and Time of Use with a Demand Charge.

Both charge a premium during on-peak hours of 4 pm to 7 pm Monday through Friday, but for the plan with demand, there's an additional fee during peak hours.

That's the plan Padgaonkar said customers can really save on if they are diligent.

Demand charge is calculated using the one hour of the month during peak times that you used the most kilowatt hours, and multiplying it by $16.87.

In one bill analyzed by ABC15, the highest usage was 4.1. The demand charge equates to 4.1 multiplied by $16.87 or $69.18, which is in addition to the charge for actual power used.

To keep that charge as low as possible Padgaonkar said to shift the usage of major appliances completely to off-peak hours.

That means no major appliances from 4 pm to 7 pm.

"Including the air conditioner," he said. "That's the hardest in Arizona."

He does it by supercooling his house.

"I start cooling at 6 am. And I set the temperature to 66 degrees."

Then by 4 pm, he raises the temperature to 90 degrees to keep the A/C off. He said by 7 pm the inside of his house reaches 80 degrees which, for him is a tolerable temperature.

The average bill for his 2000 sq foot house is less than $200 per month during the summer months.

"I've done that for five years so I have practiced what I'm preaching," he said.

Because weekend rates are cheapest he recommends trying it out to see how warm your home gets during those three on-peak hours that the A/C is off.

But if you can pull it off he says, "The way the rates are designed, the math works."