Ever since a small number of controlled blackouts occurred on the Texas Interconnected System in 2011, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has made focused efforts to educate Texas residents on energy conservation. One of their main goals is to make sure that blackouts are not a threat – especially once the summer season hits its peak next June.
Main concerns moving into 2014 include an ongoing spike in resident population, as well as heavy demands on the electrical grid from refineries and power plants, of which Texas has the most. Although recent efforts to supply renewable sources of energy to the grid have been successful, blackouts are still a possibility. There are several actions that Texas residents can take in order to help prevent extra strain on our electricity grid:
• Switch ‘em off. Everyone knows that turning lights off when you leave a room conserves energy. However, electricity consumers can save between 10-20% on their monthly energy costs just by switching off lights when leaving a room, according to energy.gov. Remember to unplug unused items as well, such as your phone charger.
• Be modest with your thermostat. We know that Texas temperatures can fluctuate between 35 and 80 degrees in the matter of a few days, regardless of season. Still, you don’t have to keep heaters and air conditioners on high for them to keep your rooms comfortable. Resist the urge to turn the AC down too low – or the heat too high. Keeping them between 68 and 72 degrees not only saves energy, but will keep your electricity bill in check, too.
• Wait until 8. If you can wait to use your washer, dryer, or dishwasher until after 8 p.m., it can greatly reduce strain on the grid. These larger appliances take up more energy than smaller ones (think toasters or curling irons), and staggering their use can make a big difference in overall energy consumption.
While the sizzling summer months may seem far off, putting these good energy-saving habits into practice now can help you save money immediately. You’ll also help your neighbors by reducing the risk of blackouts in 2014.
Let’s work together to keep the Texas electricity grid strong this year.