More than a thousand residents of Surf Coast and Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria have shared in $50,000 as part of a Powercor program that helped reduce energy demand on the local network on hot summer days.

A demand management program conducted over the four months to March 31 rewarded households for reducing their electricity use on high peak demand days.

On one day alone the Energy Partner program helped save 474kW, enough to power more than 200 homes, network distribution business Powercor says.

As part of the program a smart device was installed in 1,067 participants’ homes to allow residents and Powercor to set temperatures on air-conditioning units. Three peak events were declared and 93% of participants took part, earning up to $60 each.

“On hot days, energy use can skyrocket and this puts pressure on power infrastructure. By increasing the temperature on their air-conditioners by a few degrees our participants played a big part in reducing peak demand on the local network,” says Powercor head of digital network Luke Skinner.

“By curbing demand during these peak periods, we are able to defer expensive upgrades to accommodate just a handful of days and keep power prices lower for customers.”

Registered households received a free Sensibo Sky control unit, which connects to a split system air-conditioner so it can be controlled via an app.

On days when a peak event was declared, Powercor notified households when it intended to set the temperature on the air-conditioner up to a maximum of 26 degrees. Customers had time to pre-cool the home and were also able to opt-out of events. Participants received $20 for every event they participated in.

The Energy Partners program will continue this year and next year.

Powercor distributes electricity to around 810,000 customers – or more than 1.75 million Victorians – across the western suburbs of Melbourne and through central and western Victoria.