SYRACUSE — National Grid electricity customers in upstate New York set a record for demand on Thursday, July 21, 2011, as usage soared to more than 7,000 megawatts, eclipsing the previous peak of 6,915 megawatts set on July 8, 2010. Electricity usage continues to climb in midafternoon and a final peak isn’t expected to be reached until early evening, the company said.
“National Grid’s increased investment in the upstate New York electric system in recent years directly supports our reliability during summer’s peaks,” said Kenneth D. Daly, National Grid president for New York. “We continue to encourage customers to be prudent with their energy use and urge all customers, especially seniors, to safeguard their health as they try to stay cool.”
In anticipation of summer weather patterns and the likely upswings in electricity demand, National Grid undertook readiness activities to prepare both its network and its workforce for high demand during this period. These activities included upgrades, inspections, testing and maintenance of equipment, as well as emergency response drills.
In the meantime, National Grid is reminding customers of the following energy-saving tips to stay cool and beat the heat:
• Adjust the thermostat – Air conditioners cool a space at the same rate no matter what the setting. Adjusting the temperature control to 65 degrees will not help cool your home to 78 degrees any more quickly than if you leave the temperature at 78, but switching to the lower setting may be costing you more money. The lower you set your temperature on your air conditioner, the costlier it is to operate. For example, a 75 degree setting will cost about 18 percent more than a 78 degree setting. To optimize air conditioning systems set the thermostat on your air conditioner as high as comfort will permit.
• Programmable thermostats – Use of programmable thermostats optimizes air conditioning systems saving you both energy and money. National Grid offers a $25 cash rebate for each ENERGY STAR or seven-day programmable thermostat installed (maximum two per household). Visit www.powerofaction.com to enroll online.
• Change air conditioner filter – Check your air conditioner filter, and replace or clean it if clogged.
• Manage your water heater – Summer is the perfect time to reduce water heater temperature since the days are warmer. Set the thermostat to 120 degrees or less for normal use, and lower the setting when away from home for extendedperiods. For every 10-degree decrease in heater temperature, energy use may be cut by 3 to 5 percent. Reduced temperatures will also decrease the risk of scalding.
• Unplug electronics – Even though your television and other appliances are turned off, electronics with little standby lights still draw electricity. Unplug any unnecessary appliances until you return home.
• Turn off ceiling fans, close the drapes – Ceiling fans don’t actually cool your home; they only circulate air to make you feel cooler. Therefore, they are most effective when you’re home to enjoy the benefits. Turn them off when you’re not home and save energy in the process. Also, draw blinds, shades or drapes to block the sunlight during the hottest part of the day, especially on south and west-facing windows. Closing your drapes or blinds will keep the hot sun out and cause your air conditioner to run less.
• Put off heat generating activity – Cool things down by reducing the amount of heat generated in your home. Turn off lights when they are not needed, and avoid cooking, bathing or washing clothes during the hottest hours of the day.
• Use electric fans – Electric fans use very little electricity costing approximately $9 to $11 per month for continuous use and can provide relief from the heat. In the morning and evening, window fans are especially useful in moving cooler air from outdoors into a home.
• Use the fan setting on the air conditioner at night – When the air outside is cooler open a window and leave the air conditioner off. Keep windows and doors closed whenever the air conditioner is on.
• Tighten your home’s “thermal envelope” – If you have air conditioning, you can save electricity by sealing everything that separates the inside of your home from the outside. Check the caulking around windows and weather-stripping around doors. Storm doors and storm windows actually can help keep cool air in the home so your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard.
• Seal your home’s air leaks – Qualified homeowners may reduce their energy costs and increase a home’s comfort by participating in the Enhanced Home Sealing Incentives Program. Sealing a home’s air leaks will make a house more comfortable and cut year-round energy use. These energy efficiency improvements will help heating and cooling systems run more effectively. Take advantage of this limited-time offer and register for this program by calling 1-877-741-4330 or e-mailing EnhancedHomeSealing@csgrp.com.
• Add extra ceiling or attic insulation – According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, one of the most cost-effective energy conservation measures, for both cooling and heating, is to add extra ceiling or attic insulation to an increased depth of 12 inches.
Other useful energy conservation tips are available at www.powerofaction.com or at www.nationalgridus.com.
National Grid has a 20-year track record of partnering with its customers to provide successful, award-winning efficiency programs in its U.S. service territory. In addition, National Grid recently challenged to its customers to pledge to reduce their energy consumption by three percent every year for the next ten years. Customers can sign a pledge; participate in a free energy evaluation; and learn more about the company’s energy efficiency programs at www.powerofaction.com.
National Grid is an international energy delivery company. In the U.S., National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island, and manages the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). It is the largest distributor of natural gas in the northeastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. National Grid also owns over 4,000 megawatts of contracted electricity generation that provides power to over one million LIPA customers.