Five Ways to Prevent Power Blackouts

If you live in a rural area or one with an aging grid infrastructure, you know how fragile staying connected can be.

Not all power outages are caused by storms – at peak usage times, electricity demand from homes, schools and businesses can overwhelm the system. Follow these tips to save electricity at home, which can lower your electric bill and help keep the lights on for everyone.

1. Hunt Down “Vampire Appliances”

Did you know that as much as 10% of the electricity your household consumes is being drawn by appliances and devices that aren’t even being used? They draw power simply because they are plugged in. So unplug your phone charger when you’re not using it. Plug your flat screen TV and game console into a power strip with an on/off switch so it’s easy to turn them off overnight. (This doesn’t apply to your DVR which can’t record if it’s not plugged in.) Set your PC to automatically enter sleep mode or power down after a period of inactivity.

2. Go Easy on the A.C.

Set your thermostat at 78 or higher. If you have window units, only cool the rooms you spend the most time in, and keep the doors shut so the cool air can’t escape. Compensate by wearing light summer clothing and keeping a cold drink at hand. Shut your curtains and blinds against the sun during the day. If you have a deck, porch or shady yard, spend more time outside catching a breeze. And at mealtime, leave the oven off and opt for cool salads or grilling out.

(Got electric heat? Flip this tip upside down in winter and keep the thermostat under 68. Wear warmer clothing around the house: a sweater, a hat, a down vest. Flannel sheets and a down comforter can help keep you cozy at night. And if you have little-used rooms that can be closed off, such as a guest bedroom, shut the heat vent and keep the door closed until spring.)

3. Make Change in the Laundry Room

Forget the 2 dimes and a nickel you once found in the bottom of the machine: you can create real savings on washday. Wash clothes in cold water when possible. Wash only full loads and clean the dryer’s lint trap after each use. Better yet: get a drying rack or clothesline and let nature dry your clothes for free.

4. Find Efficiencies in the Kitchen

If you have an electric oven, leave it off and use the microwave instead: you’ll actually use less electricity. When using a dishwasher, wash full loads and use the economy cycle. When the wash cycle is done, open the dishwasher door to allow your dishes to air dry. Lastly, check the temperature settings in your refrigerator and freezer: your fridge should be 40 degrees F or cooler, and the freezer 0 degrees F or cooler.

Photo by rxb

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