When you sign up for BGE's Peak Reward program, you get up to $100 per month for allowing the utility to cycle your home air-conditioner and/or water heater during brief periods of high energy demand. These demand-reduction programs also provide residents with a free programmable thermostat, yielding total 5-year savings of $1,490-to-$1,790. Not bad for a total surcharge of $300. Even residents who don't participate in Peak Rewards and don't take advantage of appliance rebates or buy the discounted lighting subsidized by EmPOWER save money. Because of EmPOWER programs, peak load (the exceptional amount of power needed on very hot or very cold days) has dropped by 15 percent in five years. This avoids the need to build new power plants and operate Maryland's dirtiest coal-fired power plants just to meet brief periods of high demand, saving Marylanders millions of dollars. And how about the health costs we've saved by not using 2 billion kilowatt hours of dirty power because of EmPOWER? Priceless.