In Saving Energy this Summer, Timing Matters

     We can use our household appliances more efficiently, not just by running them less often, but by paying attention to the time of day when we do run them.

     During the summer months, the 3 pm-7 pm period is typically the time when demand for electricity is greatest, according to electricity providers.  Many utilities– municipal, investor-owned, and co-ops alike–urge consumers to avoid running appliances during those hours if possible.  Utility managers are trying to spread the demand for power throughout the day, rather than concentrate it in a single three or four hour period.

     There are two reasons why it is better for us to run our appliances earlier or later in the day to avoid the peak demand hours.  The first is a matter of convenience for ourselves and our neighbors.  The second is an environmental issue.

     By spreading demand for electricity throughout the summer day, rather than concentrating it in the 3-7 pm period, we help avoid power outages that can result from a demand that is greater than the system can handle.

     Since utilities determine the need to provide greater capacity (i.e. build a new power plant) on the utility’s ability to meet peak demand, it makes sense that consumer efforts to reduce peak demand will help avoid the need to build a new plant.  A new coal-powered plant increases the amount of mercury and other toxins in the air, and also means more carbon dioxide emissions.  A new nuclear plant saddles future generations with the burden of containing radiation for a very long time.

     So next time you’re about to run the dishwasher, clothes washing machine, dryer (if you’re not using Mother Nature’s dryer–the clothesline), air conditioner,  automatic swimming pool cleaning sweep, or other electrical appliance, you might want to check the time.  If it’s between 3:00 and 7:00 pm, ask yourself if the job can wait until after 7.  Or even until the next morning.  –April Moore 



2 Responses to “In Saving Energy this Summer, Timing Matters”

  1. Joan Brundage Says:

    Good article, April. Here in Tucson one can sign up to pay less on one’s utility bill if one chooses to use electricity during off peak hours. The peak hours shift according to the season. In winter, one runs utilities in the afternoon when it’s warmer, in summer, morning hours are best. We have saved a lot of money on our utility bill by doing this. And yes, nature’s clothes dryer works just fine as well. I recently was told that if one dries one’s clothes on a clothesline, the clothes last a lot lot longer. Apparently, clothes dryers are very hard on clothes.

  2. April Says:

    Thanks, Joan, for such interesting, informative comments. I hadn’t thought about the fact that the clothes dryer could be hard on chlothes, but it makes sense.

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