Power companies urge Houston customers to conserve energy as temperatures rise

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas announced the state set a new record for peak power demand Wednesday, reaching 71,438 megawatts between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The previous record of 71,110 megawatts was set on August 11, 2016.

"Texans continue to deal with extreme heat across the state as ERCOT and electricity providers are working diligently to ensure they have the power they need to keep cool. We fully expect to keep hitting new demand records as summer 2018 continues," ERCOT said in a statement.

Jessica Mahaffey with Direct Energy said there are plenty of reserves to meet the demand right now, even as temperatures are expected to soar into the weekend.

"We have sufficient generation and all is well. This industry has built plenty of power plants and business and consumers are conserving," she said. "ERCOT continues to show the system is operating normally and there are plenty of reserves."

When the state power grid can't meet the demand it can lead to rotating outages, also known as rolling blackouts. That's something that last happened in 2011.

Still, customers may take a hit on their bills.

Electric retailers like Reliant, Pennywise and Gexa sent notices to customers with tips to conserve power, something they say is especially important between 2 and 6 p.m.

"Adjust the temperature to something comfortable but that's more in the conserving mode. Changing air filters. Sealing up cracks in windows or doors. Some simple steps can really help reduce your usage," Mahaffey said.

Here are some things consumers can do to ensure companies are able to continue serving current power needs; by taking the following steps to reduce energy demand peak hours:

  • Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances and electronic equipment.

  • When at home, close blinds and drapes that get direct sun, set air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, and use fans to cool the air.

  • When away from home, set air conditioning thermostats to 85 degrees and turn all fans off before you leave. Block the sun by closing blinds or drapes on windows that will get direct sun.

  • Do not use your dishwasher, laundry equipment, hair dryers, coffeemakers, or other home appliances during the peak hours of 2 to 6 p.m.

  • Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers more than necessary.

  • Use microwaves for cooking instead of an electric range or oven.

  • Set your pool pump to run in the early morning or late evening, not during peak demand hours.

Follow Steven Romo on Facebook and Twitter.
Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.