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As West Coast faces historic heat wave, Cal OES highlights steps Californians should take to stay safe

As the West Coast continues to experience a widespread heatwave, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is highlighting ways Californians can conserve energy this week to avoid temporary energy service interruptions. Cal OES is also encouraging all Californians to take steps now to prepare themselves and their families should a temporary service disruption occur.

Cal OES has been in in close contact with the California Independent System Operator (ISO) to monitor the current challenges with the power grid due to high electricity use driven by this unprecedented heat wave and shifting patterns of energy usage thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cal OES is also working with utilities & local officials to minimize the impact to Californians during potential rotating outages.

Earlier the ISO issued a statewide Flex Alert calling for voluntary electricity conservation, beginning today and extending through Wednesday. The Flex Alerts are in effect from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

State Emergency Managers are available for remote interviews with members of the media on energy conservation and the state’s efforts mitigate the impacts of potential power outages. To arrange schedule interview please contact: [email protected]

Individuals and Business Can Take Action at Home to Save Energy

ISO highlights three simple actions individuals and businesses can take to reduce energy consumption:

  • Set your thermostat to 78° or higher between 3 and 10 P.M.
  • Refrain from major appliance between 3 and 10 P.M.
  • Turn off unnecessary lights and appliances

Additional Steps and Guidance:

  • 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.
    • Pre-cool your home by running air conditioning at 72 degrees in the early part of the day (when it is more efficient) then turn your system to 78 or higher during the hottest part of the day when demand is the highest.
    • Use smart or programmable features to help maintain energy savings when you’re not home.
  • Close Windows and Doors
    • Keep windows and doors closed to prevent the loss of cooled or heated air.
    • On summer nights, open windows to let cooler air in when safe. In the morning before the day starts to heat up, close windows and blinds to keep warm air out.
    • Tilt blinds up and close drapes and shades on windows that receive direct sunlight.
  • Smart Energy Use
    • Turn off unnecessary lighting and use task or desktop lamps with LEDs instead of overhead lights.
    • Enable “power management” on all computers and turn off when not in use.
    • Unplug phone charges, power strips (those without a switch) and other equipment when not in use. Taken together, these small items can use as much power as your refrigerator.
  • Access and Functional Needs
    • Check in on neighbors, friends and family who may be at risk.
    • Charge medical devices in off hours and have back ups plan for if the power goes out.
    • In addition to traditional community support channels individuals with access and functional needs should reach out to local government for assistance.
    • Contact local utilities companies if you are dependent on power for assistive devices.
  • Major Appliance Use
    • Postpone using major appliances like the oven, dishwasher, clothes washer, and dryer until cooler times of the day to avoid heating up your home.
    • Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when full. Wait until after 9 p.m. to use these and other major appliances.
    • When possible, wash clothes in cold water. About 90 percent of the energy used in a clothes washer goes to water heating.
  • Clean or Replace Your Filters
    • A dirty filter forces your air conditioner and furnace to work harder, wasting money, using more energy or natural gas.
  • Adjust Your Water Heater
    • Turn your water heater down to 120° or the “normal” setting. Water heating accounts for about 13 percent of home energy costs.
  • Conservation Programs
    • Consider participating in your utility’s demand response program. These voluntary programs are short, temporary measures to reduce energy consumption when power supplies are critically low and a Flex Alert has been issued. Contact your local electric utility to learn about your utility’s program and incentives they may offer to participate.

This article was released by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.