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Switch Makes Cents

Switch Makes Cents Logo

In an effort to better educate our members on the benefits of participating in our load management program, we started a quarterly contest in the newsletter called “Are You Switch Smart?” Thank you to our members for letting us come into your home to install your replacement switch.

Click the button below for more info on our new Switch Makes Cents Promotion!

Load Management Cuts Costs on Your Electric Bill.

North West REC works closely with our power supplier, Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO), to operate the load management system and to reduce power costs for our members.

How It Works

Ideally, an electric generation and transmission system operates most efficiently when the load remains constant 24 hours a day. However, reality has shown electricity use varies from hour to hour, creating peaks and valleys in the load pattern. Load management switches, installed on equipment such as water heaters, air conditioners, crop dryers, irrigation systems, qualifying large loads and heat systems can help level the load pattern.

NWREC Employee working on switch

Electric load levels are continually monitored through a substation at NIPCO. During peak periods, when the load reaches a predetermined level, a radio signal is sent to the switch from the NIPCO control center to interrupt power. When the signals cease, the controlled equipment returns to normal operation.

Benefits for Our Members

North West REC has installed more than 5,000 load management switches in our service territory since the program began in 1985. Customers report they have experienced little or no inconvenience with Switch Makes Cents; most say they have not noticed their equipment being controlled. By controlling load use, we realize savings on our wholesale power costs, allowing us to pass that savings to our members through the lower, Switch Makes Cents rates.

Members who have electric heat as their primary heat source in their home or commercial or agriculture building, may qualify for Switch Makes Cents electric heat rates. This reduced sub-metered rate applies to all electricity used for electric heat and air conditioning, as well as electric water heater use. The primary heat source must be electric, and electricity is wired to load management.

Details include:
• Members must have at least 10 kW of electric heat
• A sub-meter records kilowatt-hour usage
• Air conditioning and water heating load must also be controlled
• The rate is $.049/kWh for electricity used for the water heater and electric heat and air conditioning; the primary heat source must be electric

Another way our members save with Switch Makes Cents, is through our rebate program, which helps with equipment purchase and installation costs.

We use Switch Makes Cents to help curb the demand for energy during peak periods when the demand for energy is high. Check out this video on Energy & Demand that explains how you can reduce your demand for energy with your electrical appliances and devices that aren't on Switch Makes Cents to help lower the peak. 

  • Will I still receive a paper bill
    After signing up for SmartHub, by default you will no longer receive a paper bill, but on first login you have the option to choose to receive a paper bill. You will receive an email and/or text message from when your bill is available to be viewed online. You will be able to see your current and past bills online and be able to print them. If you are not receiving notification emails, check your spam folder to make sure it is not being sent there. If you still don't see it in your spam folder, call our office at 1-800-766-2099
  • How do I sign up for SmartHub?
    The SmartHub website can be accessed instantly by visiting The SmartHub app can be accessed in the Apple Store® or in the Google Play™ store. Search: SmartHub (not case sensitive but must be all one word), if duplicates appear, the correct App is provided by our partner, National Information Solutions Cooperative.
  • What is the difference between the mobile App and the Web version of SmartHub?
    Our Mobile Apps are native applications that can be downloaded and installed on your compatible mobile phone or tablet device. The Web version is Internet-accessible from any web-enabled device. Both the Apps and the Web version give you secure access to maintain your account information, view your bills, see payment history, make payments on one or more accounts, set up recurring payments and report outages. They also allow you to monitor and manage your usage by use of graphics. The Apps allow you to find and get directions to office locations, and payment drop boxes using the map feature on your device. The Web version allows you to register your accounts to receive notifications for account milestones, such as a bill available, payment confirmation, or outage restorations. The Web version has a Profile page available for you to maintain your personal information, password, security pass phrase and stored payment methods.
  • What is my security pass phrase for?
    Your security pass phrase appears on your screen when you make a payment. It helps ensure that you are logged into NWREC's SmartHub and not a malicious site disguised as SmartHub. If the pass phrase you see does not match the one you assigned to your account, leave the site immediately and call 1-800-766-2099.
  • Is the App secure?
    Yes! All critical information is encrypted in every transaction run and no personal information is stored on your mobile device. Mobile devices do offer you the ability to store your login information for Apps installed on the device. If you choose to store your login information, any person who has access to your mobile device can access your account.
  • How do I get the App for my phone?
    Simply look for "SmartHub" in the Apple Store® or in the Google Play™ store. Search: SmartHub (not case sensitive but must be all one word), if duplicates appear the correct App is provided by our partner, National Information Solutions Cooperative.
  • Do I have to buy the App?
    No. The App is free to download and install.
  • Do I have to change the way I pay my bill in order to use SmartHub?
    No. You can take advantage of all of the features of SmartHub and continue to pay your bill as you currently do, but you will no longer receive a paper bill in the mail.
  • I have multiple accounts. Can I see them all in the App and on the Web?
    Yes. The Web home page shows all of your accounts with the amounts due and hyperlinks to other detailed information. On the App, tap the Bill and Pay icon. The total due of all accounts shows and below it you can select different information by account, such as partial payment option, billing history and payment history.
  • Can I make a payment on multiple accounts?
    Web: To pay the total amount owed on all accounts, click the Pay Now button in the upper right corner of the screen or the Make Payment button on the home page. You can also make a payment to a single account or partial payments to all accounts by clicking on the Billing & Payments button. It will allow you to check the accounts to be paid and change the amount for each account by clicking on Other Amount. After entering the amounts to be paid click the Pay Now button. App: Tap the Bill & Pay gadget. If paying the total amount due, tap the Pay button. If paying a partial payment, tap the Pay Partial Amount, tap on the account and adjust the Pay Amount.
  • How current is the account information I see in the App or on the Web?
    The information you see in the App and in the Web is shown in real-time, so it's always accurate. However, if you keep your App or the Web version open for an extended period of time, you should refresh the page in order to ensure the information is still current.
  • How do I sign up for notifications? What if I want to receive notifications for multiple accounts?
    You must log into the Web and click on Notifications. Select preferred notification method (text or email) and fill out the appropriate notification information based on your selection. Click Next to continue, verify the notification parameters and confirm. If you have multiple accounts, while you are setting the notification it will prompt you to indicate which account the notification is for. Click here for more detailed instructions. Notifications will be sent to you from
  • How do I find your offices and payments locations?
    On the App, tap the Map and you will see all the office and payment locations available to you. To get directions, tap the location and an address box comes up. Tap the address box and the Map/GPS Navigator options appear. Tap on the preferred method and follow the instructions.
  • What do the color codes represent on the mobile application "My Usage" screen?
    The colors represent a visual indication of your usage. Red indicates the highest usage for the range of days displayed, brown is the second highest, etc. Green indicates average usage.
  • In SmartHub web, my tab buttons are not highlighted to indicate what screen I am on and the Utility logo is centered on the page. Why is it displaying this way?
    Even though you may be running Internet Explorer 8 or later, some of your websites could be displayed in version 7 compatibility mode. To check this, open Internet Explorer, select Page, and click Compatibility View Settings. Any websites that are listed will display in version 7 compatibility mode. Remove the SmartHub web site from this list.
  • What is Switch Makes Cents?
    Switch Makes Cents is a load management program that our cooperative has offered to members since 1985. In fact, our co-op served as an early pioneer of this technology. It is energy efficient and curbs electric demand during peak times to prevent the need to build additional generating facilities or incur higher wholesale power costs. The Switch Makes Cents load management program reduces our system peak by as much as 20 megawatts (MW) in the summer and 12 MW in the winter...the equivalent of powering approximately 3,200 homes! This is done by reducing total demand during times of peak-use, generally between 6-10AM and 3-9PM, when people are commonly at home running washers, dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners, heaters and so on. On average, the Switch Makes Cents program saves 100.7 MW per year for a total of $1.6 M benefit to North West REC.
  • What is "Load Management"
    Load Management is one of the easiest ways for members to become active in their cooperative and save some money on their electric bills. The program assists your cooperative by deferring the need to construct additional power plants or purchase power from external sources to meet the energy needs of our members. Load management programs give cooperative members the power to become partners in the effort to control electricity rates. The Switch Makes Cents Load Management Program helps stabilize future power costs to the cooperative and reduces power plant emissions for a cleaner environment. This works by shifting the energy used by electric heating systems, electric water heaters, and other electric appliances to off-peak times. This saves money for all cooperative members in the form of stable rates.
  • Why is it important to reduce peak demand?
    Peak demand determines, in part, the cost of electricity purchased by our wholesale power provider, NIPCO. As peak demand grows, power suppliers must provide more electric generation to keep up with the load demand. Energy consumption is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Power demand is measured in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW). A light bulb “consumes” a certain number of watts: let’s say 100 watts per hour. If that light bulb stays on for 10 hours, it “demands” a certain number of kilowatts (in this case, 1 kW) from the generation station producing electricity. Now, if you turn on 10, 100-watt light bulbs in your home for one hour, you are still consuming the same number of kW. However, you are placing a greater demand on the co-op to have those kW available to you over the course of one hour, instead of ten. This requires the generation plant to produce more power in less time to meet the energy demands of all members at the same time. It also requires expanded infrastructure (similar to a 4-lane interstate expanding to 8 lanes to meet the demands of rush hour traffic). Our co-op purchases kilowatt hours from our G&T (NIPCO) based on the demand for our members. Peak demand refers to the moment in time when the demand for electricity is the highest. If there isn’t enough electric generation produced to keep up with peak demand, more generation facilities may need to be built which means a higher price per kilowatt and more cost to you, our member-owner. By helping to reduce peak demand, you can help keep power cost lower and conserve energy.
  • How does the program work?
    By signing up for the Switch Makes Cents load management program, you get a direct savings as well as help the cooperative save on our wholesale bill which, in turn, helps reduce everyone's power bill. Air conditioners, water heaters, electric heating applications (duel fuel and storage heat) and other equipment qualify for the Switch Makes Cents load management program. North West REC will install a Load Management switch in your home, on your farm, or in your commercial business. This switch allows the connected unit to be interrupted for brief intervals of operation during times of peak
  • What equipment can be hooked up to the switch?
    Electric Water heaters (tankless water heaters are ineligible for the Switch Makes Cents program) Electric Air cooling and heating systems Electric Irrigators Electric Generators Electric Vehicle Chargers
  • How does my switch work?
    The load management switch is controlled by either a radio or cellular signal or carried through your co-op’s distribution power lines. On days when the demand for electricity is nearing peak levels, a signal is transmitted to the load control switch to interrupt the connected equipment. In most cases, HVAC fans will continue to run in the home and water heaters that are properly sized for your use will hold a reserve of hot water—you should notice little difference in your comfort. The combined effect of all the switches on our system allows for a reduction in peak demand. Take a look at your load control switch. If the light is red, the connected equipment is being interrupted.
  • When does the program control appliances?
    While the load management program operates year-round, connected equipment is not interrupted every day. When needed to reduce peak demand, switches will interrupt operation of your qualifying electric devices during the following times*: Summer operating season is June 1 through September 30. Normal summer control periods occur, as needed, between the hours of noon - 10:00 PM Winter operating season is October 1 through May 31. Normal winter control periods occur, as needed, between the hours of 6AM - noon and 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM. Typically, heat is only controlled during the month of May. *These dates and times are subject to change, on an annual basis, without notice.
  • How do I get the switch?
    You can pick up a switch from one of our offices and have an electrician install it for you. Any questions about switch operation will be handled promptly when NWREC is first contacted. The switches must remain intact and should not be removed, adjusted or altered by anyone other than a NWREC employee.* *If tampering is suspected, the member will be removed from the load management program for 12 months.
  • Do I have to own the residence?
    Because the HVAC equipment is owned by a homeowner, permission must be granted by the homeowner before the installation of a switch is possible.
  • Will the switch damage my equipment hooked up to?
    The load management switch will only interrupt the flow of electric current to your equipment and will not damage the unit.
  • Do I need to be home when the switch is installed or operated?
    It is required for the property owner or other designated adult to be home when installing a switch. We will work with you to schedule a convenient time to install the switch or to replace your switch with upgraded technology to improve the program and your level of benefit. Once installed, the switch will operate automatically from signals sent through the load management system. You do not need to be home to monitor or operate the switch; it’s totally automated.
  • How much money will I save with Switch Makes Cents?
    When you opt in to participate in the Switch Makes Cents load management program, you will have the benefit of avoiding peak demand costs as well as receiving a reduced energy rate or incentive bill credits just for opting-in to Switch Makes Cents. North West REC Interruptible Heat/AC/WH rates can be seen on our website under My Accounts>Electric Rates
  • How do I sign up?
    It's easy to participate! Members can visit or call our office at 712-707-7935 or 800-766-2099 to learn more and be connected with an Energy Advisor who will be happy to visit with you more about the program and share how Switch Makes Cents can benefit you.
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