The following content is created in consultation with Flex Alert. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Los Angeles' editorial staff. To learn more about Flex Alerts, visit FlexAlert.org.
What's the most powerful energy saving device on the planet?
The human hand. Why? Because it's capable of conserving power when California needs it most. During heat waves and wildfires, an enormous amount of strain is put on power grids, often resulting in blackouts. By collectively conserving power during peak hours, Californians can help reduce the risk of a blackout while also making their home or office more energy efficient and thus saving money, too.
So how do we know when to conserve energy?
This is where Flex Alert comes in handy. Issued by the California Independent System Operator (ISO), Flex Alert is an emergency public awareness campaign that urges residents to conserve electricity during heat waves and other challenging grid conditions. When current and forecasted demand indicates that conservation is needed, the ISO will issue an alert asking consumers to take three simple actions:
1.) Turn off all unnecessary lights and appliances
2.) Adjust your A/C thermostat to 78° or higher
3.) Postpone using major appliances to after 6 p.m.
But you don't need to wait for the next Flex Alert to start saving energy at home. Being more energy efficient is always a smart play, particularly on hot days because it will help you save money, prevent power shortages and protect the environment. Here are a few practical, low-to-no-cost energy saving tips to add to your daily routine.
Adjust Your Thermostat: During peak hours or when you're not home, remember to set your thermostat at 78° or higher. Setting your air conditioner 5° higher can save up to 20 percent on cooling costs.
Clean or Replace Your A/C Filter: A dirty filter forces your air conditioner to work harder, wasting money and energy.
Be Smart About Lighting: Turn off unnecessary lighting and use task or desktop lamps with CFLs instead of overhead lights.
Power Down Your Computer: Enable "power management" on all computers and make sure to turn them off when not in use.
Cool Off Your Home at Night: On cool nights, safety-permitting, open windows to let cooler air in. In the morning before the day starts to heat up, close windows and blinds to keep warm air out.
Adjust Your Water Heater: Turn your water heater down to 120° or the "normal" setting when home, and to the lowest setting when away. Water heating accounts for about 13 percent of home energy costs.
Wash Clothes in Cold Water: When possible, wash clothes in cold water. About 90 percent of the energy used in a clothes washer goes to water heating. To conserve even more, shift full laundry loads to after 6 p.m.
Following these best practices is how we’ve calmly and coolly prevented power outages in the past. And how we will again in what could be a very challenging summer.