Monday, June 9, 2008

Heat Wave Tips: Cut Your Power Bill, Ease Grid Strain

The Green Miles is still wiped out from the big Climate Security Act throwdown last week, so just a quick post today. Lots of fun stuff in the pipeline though, promise.

With any heat wave inevitably comes talk of strain on our power grid and even brownouts, which power companies then use to shill for more power plants and transmission lines.

In the short term, so much of the burden could be eased if consumers took small steps to ease their usage. When you're leaving home in the morning, shut off your central air conditioning. It'll make a noticeable difference in your power bill:
The typical household keeps the thermostat set at 72 degrees in the summertime, adds Sheree McKenna, coordinator for Edison's in-home audit program. For every degree you hike that temperature, it saves you about 3% on the cooling portion of your energy bill, she says.

So if you raise the indoor temperature to 78 degrees in the summer, you save 18% on that portion of your bill. For a family spending $150 a month on air conditioning bills, that's a $27 monthly saving--enough to buy several new tank tops. They'll need them.

If you're out of the house for most of the day, consider pushing the thermostat even higher, [Southern California Edison engineer Tony] Pierce suggests. Although the house won't feel quite as refreshing when you step in, for every hour that your 4-ton air conditioning unit doesn't run, a family that's used more than its "baseline" energy allotment will save $3.36. Over a 20-workday month, that cuts your bill by $67.
Another common-sense tip - keep your house cool by keeping your curtains closed.

In the long term, smart-thinking utilities are coming up with wicked cool new ideas to reduce power consumption at peak times, like the Ambient Orb.
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