Help Avoid Summer Blackouts

The hot days of summer place a lot of stress on our country’s utility network. When the mercury soars, homes and businesses need additional air conditioning, powered by electricity, to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures. For many electric utilities, these hottest days create greater “peak loads” than at any other time of the year, and it is these times of greatest demand that can lead to blackouts and other supply disruptions.

The greatest peak loads often occur in the late afternoon on summer days, when the air conditioning systems in most buildings are running, and when families first arrive home and start using household appliances. You can help reduce summer peak loads, and lower your electrical bills, by adjusting your daily routine in a few small ways:

  • Close your windows and draw the shades during the day to keep the sun from overheating your home. Better yet, install exterior window shades or awnings to block summer sun before it enters your home.
  • Avoid using lights, the range, the oven, and hot water, which add heat to the home.
  • If you have central air conditioning, hire a serviceman to perform periodic service. This should include checking the refrigerant charge, measuring the airflow, cleaning the coils, and changing the filters. You can change the filters yourself, too, once you learn where they are located. If you have window air conditioners, remove them periodically and clean their coils with hot soapy water and a stiff brush.
  • Avoid doing laundry in the afternoon-choose the morning or late evening instead. If you must run your washing machine during these times, use cold water instead of hot. If you must dry your clothes during this time, use a clothesline or indoor drying rack. Avoid running your dishwasher during these times, too.