Lodi Electric Utility works hard to avoid power outages during heat wave
As temperatures continue to heat up in Lodi, many residents may wonder how the heat will affect the electric grid — or will there be power outages?
According to Lodi Electric Utility Director Liz Kirkley, typically when it gets hot there is a lot more demand on the system and older cables, and connections can be compromised by the excess heat caused by excess electricity flowing through them. However, Kirkley said the city has a very proactive maintenance program and replaces old cable wires and equipment in an effort to prevent that from happening. A majority of the power outages that have occurred so far this summer have not been due to heat, Kirkley said, but due to balloons and rodents.
In addition to outages and overheating of the equipment, increases in electricity costs due to increased usage is also a concern. While the increase in usage may result in customers seeing a credit on the electric bill during the summer months due to energy cost adjustments, the savings may not be significant compared to the increase they will see in their bills from higher usage.
“As usage goes up, so does their bill, but if power costs go down and usage goes up the ECA is either lower or actually is credited back to them,” she said. “There’s multiple factors involved so it varies depending on the cost of the electricity and the usage.”
According to Lodi Business Development Manager Adam Brucker, who oversees energy conservation for the city, whether or not residents will see a spike in their electric bill during the summer months will vary depending on how efficient their home is.
Increases in electric bills will be a lot less in homes that have better insulation and more efficient appliances. Older homes with less insulation or that haven’t been weatherized will see higher energy usage resulting in a higher bill, Brucker said.
The number of people in the home can also affect how much the electric bill can increase during the summer months.
In an effort to conserve and stay cool at the same time, Kirkley said that in her home she turns off the air conditioner in the evenings, opens up the windows and turns on fans so they don’t have to use their air conditioning. In the morning before she leaves for work she closes all the doors and windows in the house in order to keep all the hot air out and she keeps the blinds closed and leaves her thermostat set at 80 degrees.
In order to conserve while staying cool, Brucker recommends that when residents are at home they set their thermostat to 78 degrees or higher and turn their air conditioner off when they are going to bed or are going to be out of the house for a long period.
He also suggests that residents hang clothing out to dry instead of using a dryer.
According to Brucker, using other appliances such as an oven or a washing machine in the evening when its cooler will also help to save energy.
He encourages residents to check the filters in their air conditioning systems at least two times a year between May and September to ensure that they are getting maximum efficiency out of their units.
Brucker said fans use less energy than running the air conditioner because they can be used to cool a single space instead of the entire home.
Unplugging extra appliances can also help to lower energy usage, Brucker said.
“Some people have an extra freezer or refrigerator in their garage and typically the garage gets very hot during the summer months so that means that appliance is working overtime to try to keep up and that could be really inefficient and will definitely be reflected on your power bill,” Brucker said.
“If you don’t need that appliance we just recommend that you unplug it and leave anything perishable in the inside refrigerator.”
Turning off lights and televisions can also keep things cool while conserving energy, he suggested.
Like Kirkley, Brucker also suggested closing all doors, windows and blinds to keep the sun from penetrating the home.
“As usage goes up, so does their bill, but if power costs go down and usage goes up the ECA is either lower or actually is credited back to them. There’s multiple factors involved so it varies depending on the cost of the electricity and the usage.” LODI ELECTRIC UTILITY DIRECTOR LIZ KIRKLEY