During the heat wave, do your part to unstress the power grid

Consumer Reports News: July 22, 2011 11:50 AM

The heat dome that trapped the country’s mid-section in misery is now settling over the eastern seaboard. Utility companies are asking customers to dial back on their power usage to avoid an outage. That’s what we’re doing at Consumer Reports headquarters in Yonkers, NY where the hallways are dark. In addition to turning off the lights, here are some energy-saving ideas from Consumer Reports, the Edison Electric Institute and the Department of Energy.

  • Set the thermostat at 78 degrees or higher when the house is occupied, and at 85 degrees when no one’s home. And if the air filter hasn’t been cleaned in over 30 days, it’s time to do it.
  • Take cold showers—heating water can account for up to 25 percent of a home’s energy use.
  • Close the curtains or shades on any south- or west-facing windows.
  • Turn on ceiling and table fans—a fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about four degrees and still feel cool. But only use the fan while you’re in the room—fans cool people not places.
  • For unused rooms, shut the door and close any air supply vents inside them.
  • Cook with the microwave oven instead of the regular oven or with an outdoor grill.
  • Turn off any lights that aren’t being used, and dim those that are.
  • Postpone running the washer, dryer and dishwasher until later in the week. If you absolutely have to run it, use the cold water setting.
  • Unplug electronics that use standby power. Standby power can account for up to 10 percent of home energy use.
  • Unplug your cell phone chargers, camera chargers, battery chargers or power adapters, etc. They draw energy even when not in use or connected to the end-use product.

And when you’re done reading this, turn off your computer.

Mary H.J. Farrell

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