Peak Demand: Summer Heat and Power Grids
With summer in full swing, many Americans are dialing down the temp on their thermostats with hopes of reprieve from the relentless heat. The result is a significant increase in demand for power during the summer months. More homes run their air conditioners more frequently, and for longer periods of time. The increased consumption pushes electric grids to their limits, spiking up energy prices, and in some extreme cases, necessitating rolling blackouts.
Demand for electricity generally spikes during heat waves because homeowners require more energy to keep their homes at a comfortable temperature. Air conditioners must run for longer to achieve and maintain a cooler temperature during hot weather, drawing more power from the grid. Spikes are highest at the hottest part of the day, and lowest overnight.
Aside from air conditioning units, other electronic devices that help keep us cool also consume more electricity during the summer. Floor fans, outdoor fans, and portable AC units also draw power and are used by more people in the summer. Year-round appliances such as washers, dryers, dishwashers, and kitchen devices running during peak times also put strain on the grid.
When demand on the grid is the highest, power companies have implemented rolling blackouts. These planned outages may become necessary for the power grid to avoid overload and failure. When the demand on the grid reaches a point that could result in overload, scheduling systematic outages to sections of the grid alleviates the strain to avoid a massive outage, until the peak subsides.
Scientists and energy companies face the challenges of planning ahead for spikes in demand. With what seems like increasingly drastic changes in climate, including record-breaking hot summers, it can be difficult to predict peak times while also developing contingency plans in the event a power grid reaches capacity.
It's important to remember that the cost of electricity goes up during peak hours.
During these periods of hot weather and increased power use, it is beneficial to consider simple ways to reduce the demand for power. We all want to have a somewhat comfortable temperature in our homes during the summer, but if we all crank our ACs all the time, our electric bills will be higher and we increase the likelihood of the grid reaching capacity. Further, evaporator coils in AC units that are run for long periods of time without stopping can freeze and fail to circulate cool air.
There are many ways that we can reduce power consumption during peak times. If you want to avoid an excessively expensive power bill and want to help protect your community from blackouts, try to stay mindful of when heat waves will hit your region, and take the necessary precautions. Thankfully, modern air conditioning systems work more efficiently than ever. Many can be programmed to operate only when needed, making it easier to maintain a constant temperature. Don’t hesitate to contact your local Air Conditioning Pro at Kennedy AC to learn how a new, high-efficiency air conditioner can reduce the amount of energy your home consumes while maintaining a comfortable environment, especially during peak times.