Lit candle hidden in a closet. Catherine Norby/Lariat
California has been seeing a rise in the number of power outages occurring across the state over the course of this week as residents struggle to battle the ongoing heatwave. Electric companies such as Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric warn that if locals do not work to lower their energy consumption the California Independent System Operator will be forced to demand investor-owned utilities reduce demands on the power grid. For energy consumers, this means dealing with short-term power outages —usually about an hour— until there is enough energy to supply the grid.
One resident found the ongoing power outages comical. In addition to the wildfires and the state-wide heatwaves, this is just one more thing to add to the running list of things currently going wrong in the state.
“California right now is in the midst of a pandemic, rolling power outages, work, the whole Bay Area is on fire, and racism,” Domonique Fines, Oakland resident, said on Twitter while depicting a GIF of a dog saying “this is fine” as his house burns around him.
There are a lot of basic tasks California residents can perform in their homes to prevent outages. It starts with simple things such as turning off the lights when they are not needed, covering windows that are hit with heavy sun, using fans in place of air conditioning units and only running dishwashers, washers and dryers on full loads. Additionally, ditch dryers all together if possible.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration notes that clothes dryers use 5% of residential energy across the nation, so hang drying clothes further conserves energy. EIA also states in their research that “TVs and related” account for 7% of the nation’s energy consumption, so it is important to unplug these ‘energy vampires’ as they are referred to.
“These so-called ‘energy vampires’ are appliances that continue to draw power from electrical outlets, even when turned off or idle,” Energy.com said, which is the U.S. Department of Energy’s consumer source for saving energy.
Energy vampires can be classified as gaming consoles, coffee makers, television and cell phone chargers. On the topic of cell phone chargers, energyupgradeca.org— an organization dedicated to spreading methods of energy conservation— suggest charging cell phones and laptops from 9 p.m. to 3 p.m. This timeframe avoids the majority of peak energy consumption time from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
California Science Center also suggests dusting the vents of refrigerators with a vacuum every three months. This allows the fridge to not have to work as hard to keep items cool. It is also noted that residents should check gaskets around the refrigerator doors routinely to ensure they are not leaking.
On Aug. 18, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency. A combination of the extreme weather conditions, power outages and ongoing fires have severely harmed the state’s residents.
“We are deploying every resource available to keep communities safe as California battles fires across the state during these extreme conditions,” Governor Newsom said in his official statement.
All ten of his requests in his official declaration can be found at gov.ca.gov.
As of today Southern California Edison reports several ongoing outages in the Los Angeles, Long Beach, Ontario and Huntington Beach areas. Following the energy conservation methods suggested will not ensure a power outage does not occur, but they can help to prevent them. Especially during the ongoing heatwave and into the final hot months of the year, it is important to do whatever is possible to not overdraw from the supply of energy in the grid.