The United Illuminating Company is urging customers to stay safe and cool as the heat index climbs, while taking reasonable measures to limit their electricity consumption.
The region’s electric transmission grid operator, ISO-New England, is warning that the heat and humidity have been creating near-record demand for electricity, potentially outstripping the supply available from the region’s power plants and interstate transmission lines. Should that occur, ISO-New England is able to take a series of measures to reduce demand for electricity, including direct public appeals.
Common-sense measures to reduce electric consumption include turning off unnecessary lights during the daylight hours (which can also help control indoor temperatures), and delaying use of appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and clothing dryers until after 8 p.m.
“With the thermometer lingering over 90 degrees in many of the areas we serve, our foremost concern is that our customers stay cool and safe,” said Michael A. West Jr., director of corporate communications for UI’s parent company, UIL Holdings Corporation. “We’re also asking that our customers limit the use of unnecessary lights and appliances, particularly during the hot afternoon and early evening hours.”
West said customers who do not have air conditioning may want to consider staying with a friend, or using one of the public cooling centers that have opened in the region. To find the nearest cooling center or other resources, call 211.
UI takes a variety of measures to ensure its electric distribution system is resilient and able to withstand periods of high heat and humidity. These include routine system maintenance, increased monitoring of system status and voltage levels, and adjustments to shift schedules as necessary. However, extreme hot weather significantly increases demand and puts stress on the electric system that can result in equipment failure and customer outages.
When demand for electricity threatens to exceed the available supply, ISO-New England issue the following appeals to customers:
- A Power Watch, issued when the region’s electric supplies are expected to be tight, requests that all customers voluntarily curtail their use of electricity.
- The more urgent Power Warning comes when electricity supplies are extremely tight and there is an immediate need for customers to help reduce the demand for power by turning off unnecessary lights and appliances.
UI offers the following tips for staying cool and safe while conserving energy in the extreme heat:
- Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of water and avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing.
- If you must work outdoors, take frequent breaks.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Turn off lights that are not being used and dim those that are, if possible.
- Delay use of major appliances until after 8 p.m. when possible.
- Set your pool pump to cycle on at night, rather than during the day.
- Always make sure air-conditioner filters are clean and any debris has been removed.
- Shut off air conditioners when leaving home for an extended period.
- Set your thermostat to a slightly warmer temperature, if health permits. A suggested range is 74 to 78 degrees, according to ISO-New England.
- Turn off ceiling fans when you’re not in the room.
- Leave curtains closed during the daytime to slow the penetration of heat into the home.