Why does Dominion Energy have the Smart Cooling Rewards program?
We are always looking for ways to help our customers and our communities conserve electricity to ensure a continual supply. The Smart Cooling Rewards program helps us manage higher demand in the summer and reduces the need to run peak generators or import electricity. By easing demand on the power grid, together we can help control costs while keeping the power we need reliable.
How does the program work?
Dominion Energy will install a device, also known as an A/C cycling switch, on or near your air conditioner or heat pump system. Since it's outside, you don't need to be home during installation.
During periods of high electrical use, we may need to call an “event,” which means we will cycle your air conditioner or heat pump compressor on and off for a defined interval. The switch will then cycle your compressor to run half the time it was scheduled to run prior to the event. During the event, the fan will stay on circulating the already cooled air.
Example: If your AC runs non-stop the hour before an event, it will then run 30 minutes each hour of the event’s duration. This is accomplished by running 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off. At the end of the event, your AC returns to normal operation.
When will events occur (days of week, time of day, time of year)?
Events may occur during the summer season, June 1 through September 30. Cycling times are limited to weekdays (no weekends or holidays), typically afternoons from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and last anywhere from two to four hours in duration.
How often will my air conditioning be cycled?
Several factors may produce a need to call an event, including outdoor temperature, weather conditions, and regional consumer demand for electricity. Because these factors can vary, it is difficult to predict the number of events that may be called during a summer season. However, increased participation in Smart Cooling Rewards, and personal conservation efforts, can reduce both the number of events called and their duration.
How will I know when my program participation is active?
You will be participating in the program once the equipment is successfully installed at your home. Generally, once you sign up for the Smart Cooling Rewards program, the switch will be installed within 45 days. This can vary depending on the time of year and the number of customers who have signed up for the program. A door hanger notice will be left at your home on the day of the switch installation so you know your participation is active.
How do I know when my system is being cycled?
Your switch has a window on the front of it. A light (either red or yellow) will show in the window when the compressor is being cycled. The light will be on during the time that electricity is being interrupted to the compressor. When the light goes out, electricity will be restored to the compressor, and cooling will continue. A green light may be on, off, or momentarily flash, indicating the switch is communicating, which is a normal operation. Events are posted on DominionEnergy.com. You may also call us at 888-366-8280 and we can tell you if you are being cycled.
How will I be notified of a cycling event?
Cycling events will be posted on the day of the event to the respective Smart Cooling Rewards web page for Virginia and North Carolina. The postings typically precede the event by an hour.
Text Notification Option
Participants can also subscribe to text alerts by texting SMART to 898366.
Once enrolled in alerts, participants must text STOP to 898366 to end notifications.
How do I request that my system not be cycled?
If you would like to stop the cycling of your home's cooling system on a particular date, call 888-366-8280 and someone will be able to answer your questions and opt you out of that particular cycling event.
You may select up to two days per summer season to opt out of a cycling event. If you opt out more than twice in one season, you will not be eligible to receive an incentive payment that year.
Do I have to adjust my thermostat or change any other settings?
No, cycling does not require any changes in how the thermostat is used.
Will you have access to any other systems in my house? Will the switch affect the other appliances in my home?
No. Once the switch is installed, we will be able to cycle your home's cooling system during an event, but it will not affect other appliances in your home.
Will I notice any changes in my home's comfort?
Each home is different. The temperature inside the home during an event is impacted by the home's characteristics including the year it was built, the efficiency of the air conditioner or heat pump system, energy efficient windows and the amount of insulation.
Participation and Rewards
How do I enroll?
Customers meeting the eligibility requirements can enroll by calling 888-366-8280.
What are the eligibility requirements?
The Smart Cooling Rewards program is available to customers located in Dominion Energy’s Virginia and North Carolina service territory. You must be a homeowner with either a central air conditioner or heat pump on or near the ground floor. Mobile homes, apartments, and customers on dynamic or time of use rates are not eligible to participate. To find out if you are eligible, call 888-366-8280.
What if I don't own the house, can I still enroll?
No, this program is for owner-occupied residences only.
If I live in a townhome or condominium, am I eligible?
If you own your townhome or condominium and your unit has a separate central air conditioning (A/C) or heat pump system that is on or near the ground floor, you may be eligible for the Smart Cooling Rewards program.
Are apartments eligible?
No, this program is for owner-occupied residences only.
I have a room air conditioner; can I participate in the Smart Cooling Rewards program?
No, the technology only works on central air conditioning or heat pump systems.
What if I have more than one central air conditioning or heat pump unit?
All accessible air conditioning or heat pump systems at your home are eligible and will have a switch installed to cycle it during called events.
Do I have to sign up again next year?
No, you are automatically enrolled every year. If you would like to make changes in your participation please call us at 888-366-8280.
Will it cost me anything to participate?
No. We provide the equipment and the installation is free.
What do I get for participating?
A $40 incentive is credited to your bill annually, after every summer you participate.
If I have two air conditioner or heat pump units do I receive two incentives?
No. The $40 is per residence, regardless of the number of air conditioner or heat pump systems. All of the air conditioner or heat pump systems at your home will be cycled during an event.
When will I receive the $40?
Every year on September 30th, we will verify that you are currently participating in the program and you did not opt out of more than two cycling events during that program season. Payments will be issued in the form of a bill credit during the December bill cycle.
How much money could the Smart Cooling Rewards program potentially save me on my bill?
You may not see savings on your bill, but keep in mind your air conditioner or heat pump system is running less during the cycling event. Your ability to save money on your bill will be impacted by how much you run your air conditioner during other times of the day. Learn more about how to save energy and money with useful tips. Smart Cooling Rewards will help manage higher demand and reduce the need to run peak generators or import electricity into our electrical system.
Can I really make a difference by participating?
Yes. By participating, you and thousands of others help reduce the demand on the electrical system during peak usage periods. By doing your part, you are making a significant contribution to conserving electricity and improving our environment. We expect that the Smart Cooling Rewards program will reduce the demand on the electrical system by approximately one kilowatt per home. That's the equivalent of turning off ten-100 watt light bulbs.
Do I have to participate in the Smart Cooling Rewards program?
No. The program is completely voluntary.
If I am unhappy with the Smart Cooling Rewards program, can I stop participating?
Yes. If you are not satisfied for any reason, please call 888-366-8280 to speak to a representative.
Do I have to be home when the device is installed?
In most cases, you do not have to be present for the device to be installed. During the enrollment process, we will capture information to ensure the technicians have the appropriate access for the installation. If there is a locked gate or animals, we will set up an appointment for the installation.
Who will be installing the switch? What do they do when they come to my house and what are their credentials?
The installation will be done by qualified installers working on behalf of Dominion Energy. They will be wearing a uniform and will have a Dominion Energy badge with their picture. Upon arriving at your home, they will knock on the door to ensure you are aware that they are at your home. If no one answers the door, the technician will leave a door hanger notice on your front door when the installation is complete. The technicians are well-trained and properly insured.
Exactly how does my switch cut power off to my air conditioner or heat pump compressor?
The switch is connected to the low voltage wiring (24 volts) that goes from your thermostat to your air conditioner or heat pump compressor. The switch turns off the compressor just as if you had manually adjusted your thermostat setting to a high enough temperature to turn your air conditioner or heat pump off for a period of time.
Will the on and off caused by cycling damage my air conditioner or heat pump system?
Your air conditioner naturally cycles on and off as needed to maintain a set temperature in your home as determined by the setting on your thermostat. When your air conditioner or heat pump compressor is cycled, the compressor may cycle off for longer periods of time, but it will continue to operate without harming the system.
If my switch fails or is damaged, will it prevent my cooling or heating system from working?
The switch installed at your home is extremely reliable. The equipment has been used in similar programs across the country for over 20 years. It is designed to allow your cooling or heating system to continue working in the unlikely event of a failure. If you believe the switch on your home is operating improperly, call us at 888-366-8280.
Are there any problems associated with this switch and having a programmable thermostat?
The switch will not impact any operations you have with setting either a standard thermostat or a programmable thermostat.
If my air conditioner or heat pump is off during the event, will it be turned on so it can cycle?
No. The cycling only occurs on air conditioners or heat pumps that are on during the event.
What do the lights indicate on the switch?
Your switch has a window on the front of it. A light (either red or yellow) will show in the window when the compressor is being cycled. The light will be on during the time that electricity is being interrupted to the compressor. When the light goes out, electricity will be restored to the compressor, and cooling will continue. A green light may be on, off, or momentarily flash, indicating that the switch is communicating, which is a normal operation.
What if my heating and air conditioning company's service technician recommends that I have my switch disconnected or removed?
Please have your service technician call us at 888-366-8280 before they proceed with disconnection or removal. We have worked with the equipment manufacturers. The switch will not harm your air conditioner or heat pump.
What do I do when I need to replace my air conditioner or heat pump system?
Call us at 888-366-8280 to let us know. We will arrange to have your switch installed on your new air conditioner or heat pump at no additional cost.
I'm moving, what do I do?
We will automatically deactivate your switch when you notify us of your move and discontinue your electric service at your home. We will offer the new owners the opportunity to participate in the Smart Cooling Rewards program. Once you move into your new home, please call us at 888-366-8280. We will verify your eligibility and arrange to enroll your new home in the program.
I'm going on vacation. Is there anything special I should do?