Benton PUD shares tips to keep cool, lower energy bill

KENNEWICK, Wash. – The triple digit weather has officially reached the Tri-Cities and surrounding region, but before you crank up with air conditioner, Benton PUD has some tips for conservation.

Now, the big question every time an extreme weather event like the heat hits the region is can our power grid handle the increase of people turning on AC?

Ever since the huge power outage during a winter storm ravaged Texas last winter, the grid has been on peoples’ minds.

Evan Edwards, an engineer with Benton PUD, said they prepare for hot and cold weather events all year long.

They have a contingency plan that’s looked at annually, in case our area were to experience an emergency.

Edwards said we have a great set up here in the Pacific Northwest with our abundance of hydropower from nearby dams and shared energy from the Western Interconnect. That allows them to pull shared power from other states if our local resources were to be overwhelmed.

“We’re always looking for, ‘what’s the worst case scenario?’ We’re planning for whatever peak we had plus some more; we’re always looking at adding more capacity if we need to,” he explained.

Edwards said there’s more of a demand on our grid during the winter months.

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During summer, their average peak is around 437 megawatts and around 200 of that is used up by irrigation customers on the canal, the rest, is the demand from the urban area like residential homes. In winter, there isn’t irrigation and they’ve peaked at over 300 megawatts, which is purely from people turning on heaters and other devices.

Now, if you do have air conditioning, Benton PUD said it’s best to keep it around 74 to 78 degrees, especially if you’re gone all day.

Kevin Fischer explained if you turn off your A/C while at work, your home or apartment could heat up substantially, and when you return home and turn on the unit, it could take hours to fully cool back down.

They also urge people to avoid creating any heat inside your home, like running certain appliances.

“So, we would ask if you don’t use the stove, run your dishwasher at night or drying clothes in the early morning hours, that’ll help change those hot energy uses to an off peak time where your air conditioner doesn’t have to run as hot,” Fischer, the Energy Efficiency Manager said.

You should also try to keep ceiling or floor fans running to circulate cool air.

If you’re a Benton or Franklin PUD customer, you can download the SmartHub app.

The app allows you to manage your bill as well as tell when you’re using the most energy, and how to conserve it.