Houstonians asked to cut back on power use

July 9, 2009 4:40:52 AM PDT
Wednesday was a record-setting day in Texas. Not because of the heat, but because of how much electricity was used between the hour of 4pm and 5pm Wednesday afternoon. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, is asking you to cut back Thursday, expected to be another sweat dripping day.

So but how do we conserve? When the one thing we need right now is air conditioning and ERCOT is asking us to focus on the hours between 3pm and 7pm. An AC expert says there is an easy way to make sure you're AC runs smoothly.

It's an uncomfortable spot AC repair men know well: the small area between the coil and the back wall. This time of year, air conditioning systems in Texas cannot catch a break and neither can the state's energy grid.

On Wednesday, it handled record usage and Thursday will only get hotter. ERCOT is expecting that high demand could tax the states electrical grid Thursday and they are asking fellow Texans for a little help to curb demand.

"We turn the temperature up when we leave for work, in the morning, and change the air filters whenever we can. When possible, use the fans rather than the air conditioning," said resident Philip McDaniel.

That being said, ERCOT is asking a little bit more of us.

For Thursday they recommend to:

  • Set air conditioning thermostats to 80 degrees or higher.
  • Cool with fans.
  • Close blinds and drapes on windows that get direct sun.
  • Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronic equipment.
  • Avoid using big appliances between the hours of 3 to 7 p.m.

What about that first one? Turn the AC to 80 degrees or higher?

"Try to put it up to 78 or 80 maybe," said McDaniel.

AC repair men say there are easy ways to make your system run efficiently.

"Make sure you change your air filters. You would be surprised a lot of the houses we go into, sometimes people overlook it for a while and that just puts so much of a strain on the system," said Daniel Garza.

Either way, McDaniel will likely be waiting for 7:01 pm to rush over to his thermostat.

"I'll ease it back down to 74 or 73. Anything is better than 100 degrees," said McDaniel.

The AC repairmen also told us that AC systems can really only efficiently cool your home 18 degrees lower than the temperature outside. Any lower than that and your system is being taxed. So when we see triple digit heat, anything less than 82 degrees in your home is pushing your system into overdrive.

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