October 07, 2009 13:42 ET

Westar Energy Offers New Programmable Thermostat Program

WattSaver Participants Will Save Energy, Help Utility Delay Need for Power Plants

WICHITA, KS--(Marketwire - October 7, 2009) - Westar Energy (NYSE: WR) on Friday will officially launch WattSaver, the latest addition to its EfficiencyWorks programs designed to help customers save money and energy while helping the utility delay the need for new power plants. Westar Energy will conduct a news conference and reception Friday, Oct. 9, at 2 p.m. in the lower lobby of the Bank of America building at 100 N. Broadway, Wichita, with Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and Westar's Executive Vice President, Public Affairs and Consumer Services, Jim Ludwig. Media are also invited from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. to 9411 West Ninth, a home where one of the first thermostat installations is taking place. The homeowner and Westar Energy personnel will be on site for interviews.

"WattSaver is a partnership between Westar Energy and our customers," said Ludwig. "This is a great opportunity for customers to save energy, save money and help the environment. It helps us keep costs reasonable and delay building new power plants."

Participants in the WattSaver program receive a free programmable Honeywell UtilityPRO thermostat. Because the WattSaver thermostat is both programmable and more accurate than older, conventional thermostats, participants can save up to 20 percent on their annual heating and cooling costs. Participants also become part of the solution to help balance the increasing demand with the supply of electricity in Kansas. On the hottest weekday afternoons from June through September, when demands on Westar Energy's system are the highest, the utility can call on these thermostats to reduce energy demand.

Participation is voluntary and satisfaction is guaranteed. If a participant decides to no longer participate in the WattSaver program, Westar Energy will reinstall the participant's original thermostat at no cost to the participant. By reducing the demand for electricity, WattSaver participants help Westar Energy avoid buying expensive power on the wholesale market and help delay the need to build new power plants.

"This joint effort between Westar Energy and our customers helps manage electricity prices now and in the future," Ludwig added.

The WattSaver operations will be based in Wichita, bringing more than 20 new jobs to the city. The program initially will focus on gaining participation in the Wichita area and then will be available to customers throughout the Westar Energy service territory. Westar Energy aims to install 90,000 thermostats by 2016. This will provide about 90 megawatts of demand reduction, which would avoid the need to construct a small peaking power plant.

The WattSaver program is available to residential customers as well as small and medium commercial customers who have a central air conditioner or heat pump in good working condition. Qualified WattSaver participants receive a professionally installed programmable thermostat for their home or business, 24-hour toll-free customer service hotline, plus the ability to program their thermostat through any computer connected to the Internet. The product and service package is valued at more than $300.

WattSaver thermostats reduce demand by cycling the compressor of participants' central air conditioners and heat pumps in a coordinated effort, alternating 15 minutes on with 15 minutes off. During this time, the fan on the equipment runs continuously to help maintain comfort in the participant's home. These cycling events normally last about four hours or less and occur infrequently and only on weekdays -- never on weekends or holidays. Participants may choose to not participate in one cycling event per month.

Additional information and registration for the program are available at www.westarenergy.com/wattsaver or by calling the WattSaver hotline at 1-888-753-6523.

Media note: A high-resolution image of the WattSaver thermostat is available at www.WestarEnergy.com/WattSaver. For media contacts the day of the event, please call Gina Penzig, 785.640.9970, or Erin La Row, 316.573.6471.

WattSaver in Summary:

--  Participants receive a free, professionally installed programmable
    thermostat with the ability to program it using any computer connected to
    the Internet along with 24/7 customer service -- a product and service
    package valued at more than $300.
--  Participants can save up to 20 percent on their heating and cooling
--  WattSaver is available to qualified Westar Energy residential as well
    as small and medium commercial customers with an air conditioner or heat
    pump in good working condition.
--  WattSaver will help the environment through reduced energy use.
--  WattSaver participants help reduce electricity demand on the hottest
    weekdays, working together with Westar to keep energy costs down and
    delaying the need for new power plants.
--  To learn more or enroll in WattSaver, visit
    www.WestarEnergy.com/WattSaver or call 1-888-753-6523.

Westar Energy, Inc. (NYSE: WR) is the largest electric utility in Kansas, providing electric service to about 684,000 customers in the state. Westar Energy has about 6,800 megawatts of electric generation capacity and operates and coordinates more than 35,000 miles of electric distribution and transmission lines.

For more information about Westar Energy, visit us on the Internet at http://www.WestarEnergy.com.