ERCOT urges electric conservation through today

August 30, 2011 2:52:40 AM PDT
As Houstonians deal with this record heat, the company that manages the state's electric grid is making another widespread plea for people to conserve energy.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas says a "vital" need for conservation exists through Tuesday. Officials say if you don't start conserving now, we could face those rolling outages no one wants to see.

"We've had such high electric usage and [that is] why we're asking consumers to conserve from the 3pm-7pm hour," said an ERCOT official.

Experts suggest turning up your thermostat, pulling blinds or curtains, turning off appliances that you aren't using and not running your dishwasher or doing laundry during the hottest time of the day.

"Only $132.68 for a 1,800 square foot house, three people living here -- pretty reasonable I think," said homeowner Andrew Fuqua.

In his Heights home, Fuqua is following ERCOT's guidelines and using some enhanced techniques to maximize energy efficiency. He has "Low-E" windows that let sunlight in, but keep heat out and spray foam insulation surrounding his house.

"We've seen blackouts in the past and how that can be bad for everyone. So, we recognize it's a small part we play to conserve," said Fuqua.

A downtown architecture firm has computer monitors that turn off automatically when no one's using them. They also installed occupancy censors that turn lights off when the office is empty, and daylight sensors to keep the control the climate without having to bring the thermostat down.

"When there is a great amount of daylight and sunlight getting into the space it will cut down the amount lighting of sunlight by approximately 50 percent. So that in a way conserves energy," said Jason Chan with Perkins Company.

ERCOT this month has issued several conservation pleas for its region, which includes Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, Abilene and the Rio Grande Valley.

ERCOT handles about 85 percent of the state's electric load, managing the flow of power to about 23 million customers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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