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Conserving Electricity During Extreme Winter Weather

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The following information comes directly from the City of Austin Utilities:

Due to record-breaking, state-wide electric demand and reduced power generation caused by the extreme winter weather, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator for most of the State of Texas, is asking all Texans to reduce their electric use as much as possible until Tuesday, Feb. 16.

There are many simple, safe steps to lower your energy use during this time, some of which are shared below.

  • Adjust your thermostat: Setting your thermostat to 68 degrees is a good target for energy savings for the winter. Adjusting your thermostat 1-2 degrees cooler helps reduce energy usage during the most critical times.
  • Close shades, curtains, and/or blinds: Up to a third of a typical home’s heat loss can occur through windows and doors. Keeping curtains and blinds closed during the winter helps reduce up to 10 percent in heat loss from a warm room.
  • Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances: Only turn on lights and appliances that you are actively using. Many appliances continue to consume energy even while they are off so that they can be quickly turned on. Make sure these appliances are fully powered down if you don’t need them.
  • Adjust appliances to energy-saving mode when in use: Make sure your TV’s standard or normal picture setting is selected and that energy-saving features like automatic brightness control are enabled. Enable “auto power down” on your gaming console to ensure the device goes into low-power mode when not in use. Also, avoid accessing streaming video through your game console, which can use 10 times more energy to stream a movie than, say, a Roku box or the app on your smart TV.
  • Avoid using large appliances: If possible, avoid using large appliances like your washing machine, dryer, oven, or corded power tools.
  • Close pet doors: Pet doors usually have minimal or no insulation. Pets should be brought in, and pet doors should be closed.
  • Optimize refrigeration use: Try to keep the refrigerator and freezer full and the doors shut as much as possible to reduce their energy usage.
  • Minimize water heater energy use: Lowering the temperature on your water heater from 140 degrees to 120 degrees can potentially save you up to $400 a year — and you won’t notice a difference.
  • Businesses should minimize electric use: Businesses can help by minimizing the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment. Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes.

If you experience a power outage:

You can find information about Austin Energy’s current outages on the Austin Energy Outage Map. Customers who want to report an outage should call 512-322-9100.
Lights, electronics, and thermostats left on prior to an outage can overload a circuit when the power is restored. Help us avoid circuit overloads by:
  • Lowering your thermostat.
  • Turning off or unplugging any fixtures or appliances.
  • Only leaving on one light to indicate when the power is back on.

Protect yourself during an outage:
  • Keep family, friends, and neighbors informed of your circumstances.
  • Do not use gas stoves and ovens to heat your home.
  • Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges.
  • Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices.

With freezing weather forecasted for several days, it is also important to protect your property and prevent damage or uncontrolled water loss due to frozen or broken water pipes.

Get tips from Austin Water.

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