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(Pocket-lint) - Everybody likes to save money, especially when it comes to bills, but you might not realise that being smarter with your energy could save you hundreds of dollars a year. 

In the US, a program called Demand Response will help ensure you're being as energy efficient as possible. But what is the program? As part of our focus on sustainability this month at Pocket-lint, we wanted to run you through everything you need to know about Demand Response and how it can save you money on energy bills.

What is Demand Response?

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order all the way back in 2011 to encourage the use and implementation of Demand Response in the US.

This can get complicated, but what you need to know is that Demand Response is sort of like a technology-enabled economic rationing system for electric power supply. The words that make up its name give a bit of a hint, there - it's about responding to the levels of demand for power on the grid. 

To maintain system stability, energy providers use Demand Response to change end user energy consumption to help alleviate the load on the grid - these are known as Demand Response events. There are financial incentives to the end user alongside the technology that is used in Demand Response.

Just imagine the electricity grid as a scale that needs to be regularly balanced. During the summertime, when the air conditioning load soars, generators often can't keep up with the demand for power. Demand Response doesn't generate more power to maintain the grid's balance but instead leverages technologies to reduce consumption on things like as air-conditioners, water heaters, lights, etc.

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How can Demand Response save you money?

Demand Response provides an opportunity for you to reduce or shift your electricity usage during peak periods. Demand Response programs are offered by electric system planners, utilities, and operators for balancing supply and demand. Such programs can lower the cost of electricity in wholesale markets and lead to lower retail rates for you.

With energy efficiency, the goal is to lower overall energy use, but with Demand Response, the goal is to lower energy consumption at specific times. Large buildings have been doing this for years but now it coming to individual users. ConEdison in New York City, for example, offers a voluntary program that allows it to remotely adjust your air-conditioner thermostats at peak hours, such as during hot days in the summer. In exchange for participating, you get a rebate.

However, you might not like the idea of a utility company controlling your air conditioning, for example. A utility company could alleviate those concerns by allowing you to adjust your thermostat manually.

What companies work with Demand Response?

If you choose not to join your utility provider's Demand Response program, or if you choose not to reduce your electricity usage during peak periods, you may end up paying "surge" prices. To avoid all this, it's well worth investing in smart products that work with Demand Response, or ones that can detect peaks, utilise automatic switching to reduce power, and prevent you from paying those pesky surge prices.

There are lots of companies involved in Demand Response throughout the system, from the energy suppliers to the hardware manufacturers, spanning both big businesses and individual consumers. These include companies like Honeywell, Nest, Ecobee, GridPoint and MelRok.

Manufacturers are investing in all areas. For example, Honeywell bought California-based Akuacom back in 2010. Akuacom is a major player in the Demand Response and Smart Grid arena. Since that acquisition, Honeywell has shipped thousands of Demand Response thermostats and other energy efficient smart home devices throughout the US.

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How can I get Demand Response?

If you're quite rightly won over by the idea of getting on board with Demand Response, firstly you'll need to go to your utility provider and opt into its Demand Response program. The process for how to do that may differ according to your provider, but getting in touch with them is a likely first step. This will give you an idea about what hardware you'll need in your home.

As mentioned, companies such as Honeywell, Nest and Ecobee all offer smart thermostats that support Demand Response, but not all models do. For example, Honeywell has a dedicated page for you to browse the thermostat it offers which work with Demand Response, which you can access right here

There are plenty to pick from, including ones with more or less sophisticated systems and interfaces, so you really can pick out whichever model you think will work best for your home. From there, you're well on you way toward a more efficient life with Demand Response in tow. 

If you have a Honeywell Home Smart Thermostat in the US, then be sure to check out the rebate finder, which can offer you rebates and incentives for your existing thermostat for free