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Electricity Demand Jumps With Heat

Well, that didn’t take long.

Just a few days after the heat hit, so did Ontario’s power problems.

The Independent Electricity System Operator (I.E.S.O.) had to borrow power on Monday as temperatures soared and there was more demand for it on Tuesday.

Most of it came from the expected source – the endless hunger for air conditioning as humidex values swelled into the 40s.

It’s the same condition that led to warnings of blackouts or brownouts last year, although we always managed to avoid having the plug pulled.

But now officials have brought those old caveats out of ‘cold’ storage. And they have new reason to worry.

“We’re looking at a peak demand today of over 25,000 megawatts,” reveals Terry Young of the I.E.S.O. “We’ve never been there at this time of year before.”

We came perilously close to the all time record consumption set last July. And even though the weather will break by Thursday, hydro officials can’t take any chances that supply will be able to meet demand.

“We’re looking to buy about 2,500 megawatts or even more of power today because we just don’t have enough capacity within Ontario,” Young outlines.

And he reveals hydro plans to issue a conservation warning for Wednesday, worrying there simply may not be enough to go around. They’re asking you to cut back as much as possible during the peak times of mid-afternoon to about 7pm.

In a reversal of the old cliché, it’s don’t use it – or lose it.

Reducing your hydro needs not only helps the environment, it does wonders for your bill, too. The price of the juice has risen since last year, and you could be in for a real electric shock when your next invoice arrives.

Here are some ways to prevent it from going as high as the temperature:

  • Reduce your air conditioning demand. Turing up the temperature just 1 degree to about 25.5 Celsius can lower your bill by five percent.
  • Keep the house sealed up during the hot days, and air your place out at night with a cool evening breeze. This way you’ll only have to use the a/c sparingly.
  • Don’t block your a/c vents with drapes. Close off vents in rooms you don’t need air conditioned.
  • Make sure you change your air filter in your furnace or air conditioner every few months. Dust can build up making your machine work harder and costing you more cool cash.
  • Try to install your air conditioner in a shaded area. An air conditioner exposed to direct sunlight will consume 5 percent more energy than one that’s shaded.
  • Install a ceiling fan and use it instead of your power hungry a/c.
  • Close the drapes. This is a very simple way to keep your home cool.
  • Plant a tree. Trees planted on the south and west sides of your abode can also keep the heat down.
  • Planning on sprucing up the exterior of your home? Use light-coloured paints. This reduces the amount of solar heat your home absorbs.
  • Turn on your range fan when you’re cooking and turn the fan on in the bathroom when you’re taking a shower.
  • Turn off lights and appliances when you’re not using them.
  • Avoid using heat-producing appliances, like ovens and dishwashers, during the hottest part of the day and peak periods. Use your microwave oven or barbecue instead of your stove or have a cold meal.
  • Consider replacing old energy wasting appliances with new greener models. The Ontario government offers substantial rebates for those who do. Replace your A.C. with a more fuel efficient model and get $500. Install a programmable thermostat and they’ll give you up to $75. Your hydro bill will go down with them.
  • And don’t forget about Hydro’s new peakSaver program. For more on that, click here.

Sources: IESO and Toronto Hydro