The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is requesting all Texans to conserve electric use this week due to a significant number of forced generation outages and potential record electric use in June. In addition to monitoring A/C usage, Texas residents are asked to turn off lights and pool pumps, unplug any unused electronics, and avoid using large electronics (ovens, washing machines, dryers, etc.) for the time being.
“The current request is only for a short period of time,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas said, “but energy conservation is beneficial for all of us, so making sure your HVAC is working efficiently and your home is properly insulated will not only conserve energy, it will help keep your utility costs down.”BBB and the Department of Energy (DOE) offer the following tips to keep you and your home cool, comfortable, and running efficiently in the summer months:
Maintain your A/C equipment:
Change your air filter regularly. Check your filter every month. If it looks dirty, change it. A dirty filter will slow down airflow and make the system work harder to keep you cool. This wastes energy and leads to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.
Tune-up your HVAC equipment yearly. An annual tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. Go to bbb.org to find an HVAC company you can trust.
Check thermostat settings. It is important to ensure the cooling and heating system keeps you comfortable when you are home and saves energy while you are away. ERCOT is requesting Texans to set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher while at home.
Maintain your home
Seal doors and windows. Make sure cool air does not have a way to escape. According to the DOE, sealing these gaps (by using caulk, weatherstripping, etc.) can reduce energy costs up to 20%.
Cover your windows. Using shutters, solar screens, window treatments, film or awnings can reduce heat gain by as much as 77%.
Insulate your attic. Your home may have less insulation than you need. The DOE provides the following guide for the amount of insulation you should have in different parts of your home. You can further insulate your home by adding a radiant barrier to your home. Go to bbb.org to find an installer you can trust.
If you lose power, consider the following:
Keep your house as cool as possible. Close the doors to warm rooms, and because heat rises, it’s best to stay on the lowest level of your home.
Take a cold shower. If your power is out, this will be an easy way to lower your body temperature.
Cooling gadgets. Consider purchasing battery-powered fans or solar-powered air coolers.
Properly fuel your body. Stay hydrated, eat light, avoid drinking alcohol, and avoid caffeine.
Don’t keep opening and closing the freezer/refrigerator doors. Try to keep them closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
Group food together in the freezer. This helps the food stay cold longer than if all of the items were spread out.
Freeze some refrigerated items. Moving items such as leftovers, milk, fresh meat, and poultry, will give them a better chance of surviving the power outage. Keep in mind, a refrigerator will keep your food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened, and your freezer will keep food cold for up to 48 hours if left unopened.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call BBB at 903-581-5704 or use BBB ScamTracker.
About BBB: BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information. There are over 100 local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central East Texas, which was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.