Power utilities want less of your business

July 15, 2010

Tarya Seagraves-Quee loads laundry into the washing machine at a laundromat in Cambridge, Massachusetts July 8, 2009.    REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Avoid mopping your floor, laundry and washing your dishes during the day and save energy in the process – that’s what power utilities in the U.S. are telling customers this summer.

Heard this before?

The difference is this year, heat waves have already caused blackouts and power-grid strain across the country, and it’s only mid-July. This begs the question: Do power utilities want less of your business?

Heat waves last month meant increased cooling needs – up as much as 76 percent in some regions – which adds in turn to the threat of power outages.

At least four power companies: Duke Energy, Dominion Virginia Power, Allegheny Power and FirstEnergy have already come up with their own power saving tips, like adjusting thermostats.

Duke Energy says “a ceiling fan will create wind, it will not cool a room, so be sure to turn if off when you’re not home.” It adds “on hot days, cook outdoors, use a microwave oven or prepare cold meals to avoid excess heat in the home.”

FirstEnergy, meanwhile, says residents in the areas that it serves can avail of a discount of $1 per CFL light bulb, which can lead to a household cutting its power bill by up to 15 percent — an attractive option during a recession.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), replacing 10 60-watt incandescent bulbs with 13-watt CFL bulbs will save $420 over the life of the bulbs.

It also encourages installing smart meters that shift power consumption to off-peak hours.

“Choose an Energy Star-qualified room AC, and with the money you save in energy costs, you could buy an MP3 player,” DOE says on its website.

Have you noticed a push in your community to cut back on energy use? Do you think the energy efficiency trend will go beyond the summer?

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Photo shows Tarya Seagraves-Quee loading laundry into a washing machine at a laundromat in Cambridge, Massachusetts, July 8, 2009. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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