The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is urging Oklahomans to take steps that can reduce the strain on the state’s electric infrastructure during the heat wave.
“The record heat wave has caused a record demand for electricity,” Commission Chair Dana Murphy said. “It’s no surprise that there is an enormous strain on the entire infrastructure, but there are some fairly simple steps we can all take to help ease that strain and save on electric costs at the same time.”
Commission Vice Chair Jeff Cloud said that while regulated electric utilities are required to have spare capacity in order to meet demand, reducing electric usage whenever possible is always a good plan of action.
“Just as cars fall victim to the weather and demand, so too can electric generation units and the other items that make up our electric infrastructure,” noted Cloud. “By saving electricity, we are playing a role in making sure that should things go wrong, the system will still be able to meet our needs. Taken together, what seem like small steps can add up to big savings for a customer and a large reduction in the strain on the electric infrastructure.”
Commissioner Bob Anthony noted that Oklahoma is better positioned today to handle unanticipated demand or equipment outages.
“The Corporation Commission has been working with the utilities to implement reliability hardening measures to handle equipment outages, to ensure that adequate generation reserves are available within Oklahoma, and to integrate with the regional transmission grid to enable power to be imported into Oklahoma from outside the state, if needed,” Anthony said. “In the future, as Oklahoma utilities implement Corporation Commission-approved SmartGrid technologies, even more capability will be available to handle outages and unanticipated demand.”
Here are some steps consumers can take to help reduce electric use during the heat wave:
1) Remember to adjust your thermostat to a higher setting to reduce air conditioning demand when the home isn’t occupied, or when you might not otherwise need a lower setting, such as while sleeping. A programmable thermostat can allow you to automate such changes.
2) Use fans to supplement air conditioning. This may enable you to raise your thermostat. However, be sure to turn the fans off when you leave the room.
3) Even if you had your central air conditioning unit cleaned and serviced at the start of summer, check to be sure your outside unit and the system’s inside air return filters are clean. With the record heat, units have been running much more than normal, and therefore may need filter changes and cleaning more frequently.
4) If possible, enter and exit your home through a door that doesn’t open directly into your living space. For example, if you have an attached garage, use it to enter and leave your home. This can help lessen the amount of heat that comes into your home and the amount of air conditioned air that escapes.
5) Whenever possible, restrict dishwasher, washing machine and dryer use to the evening and overnight hours, when overall demand on the system is less.
6) If using air conditioning, make sure all doors and windows are closed. Storm doors alone cannot stop as much air migration as having the storm door and the main door both closed.
7) Insulate where possible and needed. CAUTION: Even in normal temperatures, attics can get dangerously hot. Do not go into your attic during this heat wave.
8) Be on the lookout for unnecessary electrical use (unneeded lights left on, televisions and other electric devices left on but not being used, etc). Note that even when switched off, there are devices (such as televisions) that continue to draw power. Such devices are best plugged into a power strip which can then be switched off.
Also, PSO offers energy efficiency programs approved by the Commission . Information about these programs can be accessed at www.psoklahoma.com/save/programs/?ctype=b.