Even though the summer is winding down, there are still sure to be a few more heat waves before things cool down for the winter months. Just yesterday, I was sitting at home in my apartment, and was content to just have the windows open, as temperatures in my hometown have been fairly pleasant lately. I started thinking about what happens when everyone is using electricity at the same time during a heat wave.
I was wondering recently if electric companies were doing anything to prevent the likelihood of blackouts during hot weather, and I found out that they have a new way of reducing the demand for power when it gets too hot.
According to an article I read today in the Texas Tribune, certain power grids, including the one in Texas, have a system of smart thermostats that help to reduce strain when they are overworked. These devices are installed for free by the electric company and most of the time they work just like a regular thermostat.
But then sometimes, when the power grid is strained because of hot weather, the "smart" part kicks in, and it automatically changes the temperature in the client's house. Some networks are able to reduce their electrical consumption by as much as 10 percent when they do this.
I was fascinated to learn that when the regulation kicks in, it usually only lasts for about 15 minutes, after which time things return to normal. Apparently, turning off the air conditioning in the connected houses for just 15 minutes can be enough to keep the power grid from overloading.
This seems like such a great way to save electricity when temperatures are running high and energy companies are working really hard to avoid a blackout. I wonder if my electric company is going to get these thermostats any time soon. They sure seem like a good idea to me.