Championing Energy Efficiency

Championing Energy Efficiency

Championing Energy Efficiency

Smart meters provide our electric utilities with information on electricity usage, as well as outage info and other data that helps reduce the time that service vehicles are required to be on the road.

Since 2000, energy efficiency and demand response programs have helped the Southern Company system reduce peak demand for electricity by more than 4,500 megawatts and avoid over 2.7 billion kilowatt-hours of energy use. That's enough electricity to power the cites of Birmingham, Alabama, Montgomery, Alabama and Savannah, Georgia for a year.

Our subsidiaries continue to engage in a variety of initiatives to educate students, residential customers and businesses on the benefits of energy efficiency:

  • Georgia Power subsidizes building science certification for qualifying contractors through Building Performance Institute (BPI) training.
  • Gulf Power and Mississippi Power are educating students, parents and teachers on the benefits of energy efficiency through innovative programs at middle schools in northwest Florida and southeast Mississippi.
  • Alabama Power is developing a customer web portal that enables customers to program their thermostats remotely and monitor their energy usage via the internet. They have also developed a custom energy report that enables customers to receive the results of energy audits online, along with energy-saving tips and the ability to set and monitor personal energy savings goals.
  • Subsidiaries promote the adoption of compact fluorescent and LED lighting through giveaways and special events, and they encourage the safe disposal of used light bulbs through recycling bins at Home Depot locations.

Demand Response Programs

Demand response programs consist of voluntary actions taken by customers for the purpose of adjusting the amount or timing of their energy consumption. Demand response helps reduce peak demand and avoid outages when system reliability is endangered. As such, customer-implemented demand response programs can be a more cost-effective and efficient means of managing load versus the appropriation of additional generation capacity to meet peak or occasional spikes in demand.

Demand response programs help balance supply and demand. Methods of engaging customers in demand response efforts include time-of-use pricing, critical peak pricing, real-time pricing and critical peak rebates. These pricing strategies provide a financial incentive for customers to shift their usage to off-peak periods. Also included are direct load control programs which allow operating companies to cycle air conditioners and water heaters on and off during periods of peak demand in exchange for the financial incentive of lower electric bills.

In conjunction with state regulators, Southern Company's electric retail utilities have developed a robust set of demand response programs that significantly exceed the national average for reduced demand. In 2013, our average reduction during summer peak usage was 6.2 percent versus the national average of 2.6 percent. SOURCE: U.S. Electric Information Administration (EIA).

Residential Programs

Energy Check-up home energy evaluation - Our energy experts help customers find improvements and low-cost ways to reduce energy use through free energy audits.

Low-income weatherization - Assistance to low-income families to permanently reduce energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient.

Energy Select /SmartPower - Smart thermostats and programming help customers save money and reduce energy demand during peak periods.

Geothermal heating and cooling - Geothermal heating and cooling has been labeled by the Department of Energy as the most energy-efficient, environmentally friendly system available today. Incentives are being offered in some areas.

Solar thermal water heating - A pilot program with incentives that puts the sun to work is being offered in Florida.

Direct load control - We offer incentives for customers to grant us control of their heating and air conditioning units so we can cycle them on and off during peak-demand times and reduce peak electricity use.

ENERGY STAR® - The Southern Company system supports the EPA/Department of Energy program to reduce energy consumption and protect the environment through energy-efficient practices and products.

EarthCents Homes (Gulf Power and Georgia Power) - EarthCents Home certification will assure high-performance exceeding ENERGY STAR standards and state building codes.

Appliance Program (Georgia Power) - Promotes the purchase and installation of energy efficient appliances through rebates on ENERGY STAR® certified appliances. Rebates available on qualifying purchases made through any appliance retailer in the state of Georgia.

Lighting Programs - Promotes the purchase and installation of energy-efficient lighting to residential customers through special pricing incentives on CFLs and LEDs at select local retailers, and CFL giveaways at customer events.

Homebuilder programs - We work with homebuilders to ensure construction includes optimal energy efficiency choices.

Commercial/Industrial Programs

Commercial geothermal heating and cooling - Incentives designed to help reduce the cost of geothermal heating and cooling systems, so customers can save energy and money.

Real-time pricing - Real-time pricing reduces peak demand for electricity by giving commercial and industrial customers information on use and pricing.

Interruptible load - High-volume businesses that are able to reduce electricity use for brief periods of time can reduce their monthly power costs and help us lower peak demand, delaying the need for additional generation. Managing demand during peak periods helps keep electricity generation reliable and affordable.

Commercial construction programs - Free expert assistance for contractors, architects and building owners explaining how they can incorporate energy efficiency into their projects. The best time to go green is before the hammer hits the first nail.


  • One of the founding members and on the board of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, which promotes energy efficiency in the Southeast and is a Founder-Level Associate member of the Alliance to Save Energy.
  • Among more than 60 leading energy organizations that worked with EPA and Department of Energy to develop a National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency.
  • Joined the Electric Power Research Institute's national energy efficiency initiative in 2007 to help develop smart appliances with energy management technology.
  • Member of the Edison Foundation-Institute for Electric Efficiency, a group focused on advancing energy-efficiency and demand-response practices, ideas and experiences in the power business.
  • "Diamond" member of the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium. This group seeks to expand awareness and use of geothermal heat pumps, which have the potential to use 25 percent to 40 percent less energy than traditional heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
  • Participating as a co-sponsor of an energy-efficiency project with McKinsey & Company to determine the barriers to implementation of opportunities to capture EE.

Smart Meters

Smart Meters read electricity use and generate bills without sending workers door to door. The meters also enhance response times for service requests and curtail the number of system vehicles on the road, reducing pollution and traffic while saving fuel. The meters also better detect the source of outages, shortening restoration time, and detect electricity thefts. More than 4.4 million meters are already on duty system-wide.

Other Initiatives

Electric Power Research Institute Energy-Efficiency (EPRI) Demonstrations - The Southern Company system is participating in demonstrations of several hyper-efficient residential and commercial technologies, including variable flow residential heat pumps, residential ductless heat pumps, and heat pump washer/dryer systems.

Residential Heat Pump Water Heaters - These units extract heat from the surrounding air and pump it to heat domestic water. Heat pump water heaters are about 2.5 times more efficient than conventional electric water heaters and 4 to 5 times more efficient than gas water heaters. By using less energy, the units reduce emissions and costs.

Industrial Heat Pump - We're helping customers with technologies like a 500-ton system that captures waste heat from condensers to deliver 150 degree hot water for the facility, and an electric hybrid desiccant that dehumidifies building ventilation air using less than 50 percent conventional compression HVAC technology.

UV for Finish Curing - Using only 20 percent of the energy typically used with other curing methodologies, UV light is being demonstrated for industrial material final finish curing of liquid, powder, and adhesive coatings.

LEED Certifications

Subsidiary Georgia Power has opened two child care centers meeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System™ standards. LEED is the nationally accepted third-party benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. The power delivery training center in Alabama is also LEED-certified.