Temperatures in the 90's with high humidiity means heavy use of air conditioners.
The hot weather we're experiencing is expected to continue through the week. That means a lot of air conditioners across the region are going full blast to keep people cool. So is this a burden on the local electric utility? "There is ample power for Potomac Edison's customers, and, in fact, throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region," says spokesman Todd Meyers.
According to the PJM Regional Power pool that Potomac Edison is a member, customers used 163,000 megawatts of electricity in July, 2011. Meyers says so far this summer, it hasn't come close. He says customers have used "about 150,000 megawatts. So as you can see, we're no where near the record." He says one megawatt is enough electricity to power 1,000 homes.
But Potomac Edison is concerned about the company's equipment which delivers the power to customers so they can keep their air conditioners humming. "We have not had any heat-related outages," he says. "This is the kind of weather when it goes day after day, when equipment, like transformers, gets very hot and overheats, or can overheat. We have plenty of crew on standby to sleuth out any kind of problem that may occur, and be able to replace equipment and make repairs, if necessary."
Meyers says the equipment doesn't get a chance to cool off during the overnight hours, as the temperatures still remain hot. "When you get back to back to back days, a week of hot days, it doesn't give the equipment a chance to cool off physically. With all of the current running through that equipment, it gets very hot."
While Potomac Edison is keeping a close watch on its equipment, the company is encouraging its customers to conserve. Although there's no emergency, Meyers says practicing conservation will help keep your electric bills manageable. "You can set your AC, set your thermostat, to 78-degrees," he says. "That will feel pretty darn good after coming in from a 95-degree day outside. It's probably about the best temperature to save money."
Meyers says for every degree you go below 78-degree, it's about a 3% increase in electrical use. But for every degree you go above 78-degrees, you can save about 3%.
Other tips include keeping furniture and drapes away from the air conditioner registers, where the cool air comes out. "It doesn't do you any good freezing the back of the sofa," he says. "Drapes can also hang across air conditioner registers, and trap the cool air and send up to the ceiling.
If you use a window air conditioner, Meyers says keep the units turned off during the day when you're at work. You can turn them back on a few hours before going to bed.