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Don’t Repeat the Blackouts of 2011


Do you remember February 2011, when much of Texas experienced rolling blackouts?

The state experienced a great freeze, which spurred high demand for electricity—as most areas were below freezing for several days. All that demand—combined with more than 50 generating units tripping offline due to sagging, ice-laden lines—caused the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to institute rolling blackouts, or load shedding, because the state simply didn’t have enough electricity to go around. About 7,000 megawatts went offline—enough capacity to power about 1.4 million homes.

It’s hard to believe it has been nearly 10 years since that record event, and it would be easy for Texans to get complacent about energy use. But we don’t want to experience rolling outages again. So what can we do about it?

By working together, we can help decrease demand while still maintaining comfort. Here are some easy steps to take at home to conserve energy.

Install a programmable thermostat and set it to lower the temperature at night and whenever your house is unoccupied. Lowering your thermostat by 10 degrees at night can reduce your heating bill by 10%–20%.

Make sure your thermostat is programmed correctly and not located in an unheated space, in direct sunlight or near a heat source. The thermostat must be able to sense the average temperature in your home.

Lower your thermostat and wear socks and a sweater indoors. Lowering the setting by just 1 degree can reduce energy use by 3%.

Get a humidifier to add moisture to the air. Air tends to be dryer in the winter, and because moister air feels warmer, a humidifier can make you feel more comfortable even though your thermostat is set lower.

Inspect your air filters monthly. Dirty air filters cause your heater to work harder, using more energy.

Check your outlets and switch plates. Do you feel a draft? If yes, install foam insulation gaskets behind them, and stop that draft where it starts.

Check all exterior doors for air leaks, and weatherstrip and caulk as needed. A gap of 1/8 inch around a door is equivalent to a 6-square-inch hole in the side of your house.

Make sure your water heater is set no higher than 120 degrees and install a water heater blanket.

Posted: 1/11/2021 1:00:56 PM
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