Five Simple Things You Can Do to Save Energy During Labor Day Weekend Heat Wave

Posted on September 4, 2020

Triple-Digit Heat Will Tax the Grid; State Grid Operator, PG&E, Other Utilities Asking Customers to Conserve between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.

 SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—With triple-digit heat forecast for the three-day Labor Day weekend, the state’s grid operator is calling for afternoon and evening energy conservation as one way to make sure that the supply of power stays ahead of the demand.

The Flex Alert, called by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), has been issued for Saturday through Monday, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

PG&E offers five simple steps to cut your energy usage and help the state get through the coming heat wave. And remember to get your kids involved by making turning off unneeded lights into a family contest and by playing board games instead of Xbox, Nintendo or computer games.

  1. When it’s cooler outside, bring the cool air in: If the outside air is cool in the night or early morning, open windows and doors and use fans to pre-cool your home.
  2. Close your shades in the summer: Sunlight passing through windows heats your home and makes your air conditioner work harder. Block this heat by keeping blinds or drapes closed on the sunny side of your home.
  3. Cool down with a fan: Fans keep air circulating, allowing you to raise the thermostat a few degrees and stay just as comfortable while reducing your air conditioning costs.
  4. Clear the area around your AC: Your air conditioning unit will operate better if it has plenty of room to breathe. The air conditioner’s outdoor unit, the condenser, needs to be able to circulate air without any interruption or obstruction. Also, dirty air filters make your air conditioner work harder to circulate air. By cleaning or replacing your filters monthly, you can improve energy efficiency and reduce costs.
  5. Set your thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, health permitting: Every degree you lower the thermostat means your air conditioner must work even harder to keep your home cool.

Labor Day weekend temperatures are forecast to be 10 to 20 degrees above normal for much of California, which will increase the demand for power, primarily from air conditioning use. PG&E meteorologists say weekend highs could reach 110 degrees in Stockton and 113 in Paso Robles. And hotter overnight temperatures won’t allow electric infrastructure to cool down. And the hot weekend days and nights across the West can limit CAISO’s ability to import energy to serve demand.

Consumers can actively help by shifting energy use to morning and nighttime hours. Conservation can lower demand and reduce the duration of possible power interruptions. Last month, when California experienced its first rotating outages in two decades, conservation limited the impact to two nights rather than three or four. 

PG&E’s demand response programs offer incentives for business owners and residential customers who curtail their energy use during times of peak demand. PG&E has several of these programs. About 261,000 PG&E customers are enrolled in one of these Demand Response programs. PG&E’s website includes detailed information on these programs, which allow residential customers and business customers to save energy and money.

PG&E is prepared and, based on forecasts, doesn’t anticipate any issues meeting the increased demand for power. At this point, CAISO has given no indication that it will call for rotating outages.

PG&E also urges customers to stay safe during this heat wave. The company funds cooling centers throughout its service area to help customers escape the heat and cool off. To find a center near you click here or call 1-877-474-3266.

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