As the temperatures climb, so does our power usage and, as well, our power bills.
But there are ways to help keep the bills and usage low and help ensure we don’t have power interruptions during the hottest time of day.
“There’s a lot of common sense things to do,” Don Henderson, energy manager in the Garrison’s Directorate of Public Works base operations, said. “We can help everybody else by not straining the grid.”
The DPW Energy office maintains and monitors control systems for approximately 125 of Redstone’s highest energy use facilities, Henderson said.
“These systems all report to a centralized UMCS server, and we are continually adding facilities to it,” he said. “We can look at our computer and set schedules for the facilities.
“We’ve already done a lot with scheduling. We try to do that with all of our biggest energy-consuming facilities.”
The Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides about 97% of Redstone’s power, is asking all electric power consumers – residential, commercial and industrial – to cooperate in reducing power usage, especially between noon and 6 p.m.
“Be vigilant all the time,” Henderson said. “Look for and feel for gaps around windows, doors that allow for the warm air inside and the cool air to escape.
“Remember our parents would tell us, ‘Don’t air-condition the outside.’”
He said a simple thing such as shutting off computers at the end of a workday can save nearly $1 million a year.
“Turn off the computers when they’re not in use,” Henderson said. “When left on continuously, a computer costs about $100 a year; when it’s on during normal working hours, it costs $22 per year.
“We have about 12,000 computers on post. With savings of $78 each, that’s $936,000 savings for turning off computers.”
Henderson said another cost-saving and energy-saving plan Redstone employs is converting fluorescent lights to LED (“that can save up to 50% on the cost”) and motion-control lighting.
“When there’s no movement, because no one is in there, the lights go off,” he said. “That’s one of our quickest paybacks (on savings); we try to put it in any project we can.”
On the home front, a misconception is that fans help cool a room, Henderson said.
“Use the fans when you’re in the room, turn them off when you leave,” he said. “A ceiling fan doesn’t cool off a room; it cools off the person in the room. It’s just moving air around.”
While he works to help Redstone save money and energy, Henderson offers some tips for the home.
· Avoid running appliances during the hottest part of the day
· Ensure A/C units have clean air filters; dirty filters block cooler air and cause units to use more power than needed
· Minimize how often exterior doors and refrigerator doors are opened
· Use ceiling and floor fans to keep air moving, but only when a room is occupied; they use less power than an A/C unit
· Unplug unused or unnecessary electronics, even when off, they still use power if plugged in
· Recycle old appliances; TVA said older appliances are less energy-efficient than modern counterparts
· Avoid putting lamps or TVs near thermostats, they give off heat and will “lie” to the thermostat
· Switch to energy-efficient bulbs – not only do they use 75% less energy, but they put off less heat than old-school incandescent bulbs
· Turn up the thermostat – TVA recommends keeping the thermostat between 75-78 degrees during the day and even higher if no one is going to be home for a few days
· Keep curtains closed during the day on the south, west, and east sides of houses and apartments to block out sunlight
· Plant trees on the south or southwest side of houses to create shade and keep homes cooler
· Avoid using the oven and cook meals that require less heat from the stovetop or oven; consider using the microwave or air fryer
· Use the charcoal grill for outdoor cooking
“The grid is still stable, and there is no risk of brownouts or blackouts,” he said. “But these measures can help ensure that remains the case.”