Is Westar's new rate plan right for you?

WICHITA, Kan. Westar is looking at a potential rate decrease at the end of this year, followed by a rate increase next year, The company is looking to introduce a new rate plan that could either save you money or increase your bill.

The company is also proposing a new, optional, three-part rate plan that would include a lower rate for electricity and a demand charge for high usage between 2 and 7 p.m, Monday through Friday - excluding holidays.

So is the new plan a good option for you?

Many wonder if riding the thermostat, and bumping it up during those peak hours would save money, or just run you’re A/C unit harder trying to get the temperature back down.

Jeff Jones, President of Tru-Building, says the answer isn’t the same for everyone.

“The challenge is that in some of your older homes,” Jones explains. “These houses aren’t very well insulated.”

Jones says the age of your home is a pretty good indicator on how well it might be able to handle riding the thermostat.

“They didn’t start using insulation in homes until the late 70s, so anything before 1980 you really want to know how well your house is insulated,” Jones says.

And he says there is an easy way to test your home.

“How long does it take on a hot day for your house to heat up?” Jones begins. “Whether you know what’s in your walls or not. Take it as it’s 90 degrees outside, turn off your air conditioner, how long does it take for your house to start getting uncomfortable?”

If your home loses the cool air quickly, riding the temps on the thermostat may be a bad idea.

“Between four o’clock and seven o’clock, when it’s 100 degrees outside, that’s a miserable time of the day,” Jones says. “Your house warms up into the 90s, then at seven o’clock it’s going to take so long at so much energy to push it back down.”

If you are well insulated, and think you could manage the temperature, you’ll also want to pay attention to your appliances.

“Dryers can use 30-40%, on inefficient dryers, can be 30-40% of utility costs on your electric loads,” Jones says.

He says kitchen appliances also use a lot of energy, and you’ll want to avoid using them during the pre-determined 2:00 PM-7:00 PM window.

“The appliances we use, especially if you have an electric range, they will use a lot of electricity,” Jones explains. “Your refrigerator as well… microwaves.”

The new proposed rate plan would be optional.

NOTE: A previous version of this story implied that peak usage hours were between 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. every day. Westar contacted us to clarify that the peak usage times, under the proposal, are on weekdays only, excluding holidays.