Record-breaking heat in Central Florida brings all-time high in energy demands
Record-breaking heat resulted in record-breaking energy use when the Orlando Utilities Commission reported Thursday new peak electric demand for Orlando and St. Cloud
According to OUC, both cities set records Wednesday when they each beat their own megawatts usage -- Orlando had a peak demand of 1,349 MW, and St. Cloud reached 271 MW, eclipsing previous records of 1,285 MW and 250 MW, respectively.
Derek Hudson, the OUC public relations manager said, this all-time high reflects the excessive heat this season because more locals are staying indoors and blasting their A/C units for longer periods of time. He said it also reflects the growing influx of people that have moved to Central Florida.
But he said the increase in energy demands don’t necessarily need to affect users’ power bills. He said using energy-efficient practices is key to saving energy and money.
"It depends on two things, the house and also the user. In a nutshell, if your home has no insulation, and your shades are always up, and your biggest window faces west, and your AC filter is clogged, and your ceiling fans are never on — well, that’s going to contribute to your usage," he said.
Hudson said other tips to help users keep their living or working area cool this summer are:
- Making sure the home or business has proper insulation.
- Ensuring the size of the A/C unit matches the size of the building it’s trying to cool.
- Running ceiling fans counter clockwise to create a wind chill effect to aid the A/C.
- Using shades, drapes, or blinds in rooms to prevent the penetration of sun rays.
- Investing in a smart thermostat that can adjust temperatures automatically.
- Replacing the A/C unit filters consistently to allow for unbothered air flow.
- Getting in the habit of setting the A/C no lower than 78 when leaving the building.
"When it comes to energy efficiency, that's doing things like making sure you have good insulation — that’s one piece. Another piece is how to set your thermostat. We found that if you can discipline yourself to set your A/C at 78 degrees because for each degree that you set your thermostat below 78 degrees, you’re gonna spend 6-8% more," he said.
Other tips to help save money on power bills include turning off lights and unplugging devices when no one is using them, using appliances like washers and dryers only with full loads, and checking the electric water heater temperature is set to no more than 125 degrees.
With high-rising heat and inflation prices, Hudson said OUC offers budgeting and billing assistance for those who are energy burdened, meaning they pay more than 6% of their income on power utilities. The company also offers a free energy audit to help users who aren’t sure if their homes or businesses are energy efficient.
Lillian Hernández Caraballo is a Report for America corps member.