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enery + money saving lesson, because knowing is better than not

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Apr. 18th, 2006 | 02:05 pm

Heating and cooling costs account for about 50% of the home energy budget. An ideal way to cut down on energy use and utility bills would be to reduce energy used for heating and cooling. There is a simple, easy, no-cost method of doing just that -- ADJUST YOUR THERMOSTAT!

In the summer, the thermostat should be set no lower than 78F to 80F. For every degree the thermostat is raised, 4% to 8% can be saved on cooling costs.

Example:
With the thermostat set on 72F, a family's July utility bill is $120.

How much was spent on cooling?
50% of the bill was spent on cooling
50% x $120 = $60 was spent on cooling

At a savings of 4% per degree, how much could be saved if the thermostat was raised to 78F?
4% x 6 = 24% savings
24% x $60 = $14.40 saved

At a savings of 8% per degree, how much could be saved at 80F?
8% x 8 = 64% savings
64% x $60 = $38.40 saved


During the summer it is important to keep the thermostat protected from heat and sunlight so as not to overwork the unit.

It is also helpful to use fans to increase comfort. Increased air circulation helps people feel cooler at higher temperatures, and it helps reduce some of the effects of high humidity. Remember, turn fans off when a room is not in use because fans cool people, not rooms.

Fans help people feel cooler at a higher temperature; therefore the thermostat can be raised and energy saved.

Humidity is another issue that affects comfort in the home. Humidity in the air allows the air to hold more heat. In the summer this excess humidity can make occupants feel warmer and force the air conditioning unit to work harder.

Example:
In the summer, if the thermostat was lowered from 78F to 75F, the cooling costs would go from $100 to $128.

1. Summer, from 78F to 72F? $163
2. Summer, from 78F to 80F? $84



(taken from http://dnr.louisiana.gov/sec/execdiv/techasmt/ecep/home/e/e.htm)


One reason why we should conserve energy:


Stress on power grid sparks rolling blackouts across Texas
In Austin, power shut off 10 minutes at a time Monday afternoon throughout city

By Tony Plohetski, Claudia Grisales
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Scorching temperatures sent power usage spiraling throughout Texas on Monday, overwhelming the state's power grid and triggering mandatory blackouts in Austin and around the state.

A repeat is not expected today, according to Austin Energy, even with record temperatures in the forecast once again. Still, residents are being asked to conserve power from 3 to 7 p.m. today.

Traffic stacks up Monday on Congress Avenue near Riverside Drive in Austin after utility officials cut power, shutting down traffic lights.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the state's power grid, said the statewide shortage was caused by record-breaking heat striking at a time when as much as 15 percent of the state's power supply was already off-line for seasonal maintenance. Then four power-generating plants shut down unexpectedly, ERCOT spokesman Paul Wattles said.

So ERCOT ordered utilities to begin reducing the load on the grid before it could appeal to the public for voluntary reductions.

The result was rolling blackouts that sent businesses and homes into darkness, extinguished traffic signals and snarled rush-hour traffic for about two hours Monday afternoon. In Austin, where the day's peak temperature of 100 was the highest ever recorded in April, Austin Energy shut off power to different parts of the city for about 10 minutes at a time between about 4:20 p.m. and 6:20 p.m., which sent police officers scrambling to direct traffic at busy intersections.

Austin Energy said about half of its 360,000 customers were affected; two separate power outages in South and Southeast Austin caused by equipment failures lasted several hours.

The 100-degree mark at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport broke the date's record high of 97 set in 1987 and the record for any day in April 99 degrees on April 19, 1951. At Camp Mabry, Monday's high of 99 degrees topped the daily record of 97 set in 1920.

"It's a combination of the fact that April is usually a cooler month, and we had higher temperatures, and we don't have the available capacity that we normally have," ERCOT spokeswoman Dottie Roark said.

Whether the shutdown of the four plants made the difference between having a blackout and business as usual, "we'll never know for sure," Wattles said. He would not identify the plants, saying it's ERCOT's policy not to do so.

The ERCOT grid, which provides electricity to about 80 percent of Texas, typically sees usage of about 40,000 megawatts a day in April, but the state pushed 52,000 megawatts on Monday, Wattles said. ERCOT said its power grid needed to decrease its load by 1,000 megawatts on Monday.

"The good news is, (the blackouts) worked," Wattles said. "This prevents region-wide outages. It isolates the outages so a few people share the pain to avoid a region blackout like we had in the Northeast in 2003."

Though the majority of the North American power grid is connected, ERCOT operates as a separate entity. It is connected to outside grids through only three ties that can handle a total of 836 megawatts.

Though that prevents outside blackouts from spreading into the ERCOT grid, as happened to several Northeast grids in August 2003, it also limits the amount of power ERCOT can import on critical days like Tuesday.

Austin Energy officials said ERCOT representatives called them just before 3:30 p.m. Monday and said the power supply was "looking a little tight," Austin Energy spokesman Ed Clark said.

ERCOT officials called back less than an hour later and told Austin Energy to begin shedding part of its load, Clark said.

Austin makes up 4 percent of the state's power use and was initially told by ERCOT to cut usage by 35 to 40 megawatts, Clark said. The city's peak usage is typically 2,900 megawatts, Clark said.

"Basically we turned off, for the most part, the residential load," he said. "We try to avoid, obviously, any emergency services, and we do not turn off downtown because it is a very complicated system."

"The goal is to leave those customers off no longer than 10 minutes," Clark said.

The only other time the utility has been forced to use rolling blackouts was during an ice storm in the mid-1980s, Clark said.

In Houston, about 68,000 customers at a time were without power, while Dallas-based TXU Electric Delivery rotated outages every 15 minutes in an area stretching from West Texas to East Texas, as far north as the Oklahoma border and as far south as Round Rock.

"They went exactly as we planned, as ERCOT set forward," TXU spokeswoman Carol Peters said. "It's something we practice every year, and it worked exactly as we expected it to."

How to help

With highs in the upper 90s likely today, ERCOT officials ask the public to set thermostats above 77 degrees and limit use of lights and other electric equipment from 3 to 7 p.m.

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Comments {4}

Eric Christopher

(no subject)

from: sertok
date: Apr. 18th, 2006 09:38 pm (UTC)
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very informative - thank you! i'll adjust my thermostat right now

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(no subject)

from: hipporiot
date: Apr. 19th, 2006 03:00 pm (UTC)
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good info. thanks.

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Snowbunny

(no subject)

from: vonbunny
date: Apr. 19th, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC)
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holla!

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freak out

(no subject)

from: tilastar
date: Apr. 20th, 2006 12:01 am (UTC)
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gayle, its really hot in here! we're gonna die.

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