California’s sweltering summer days come with an increased risk of power outages and wildfires. But you can help in one way: by decreasing the amount of energy you use during a flex alert.
A Flex Alert is a notice issued by California’s Independent System Operator, which oversees our state’s electrical grid. Basically this is a request for people to consider unplugging appliances, turning up the thermostat a few degrees and delaying operation of large appliances until demand for electricity drops later in the year. the evening. Flexible alerts tend to be set from late afternoon until evening, when people start coming home from school and work and everyone turns on the air conditioning.
If power consumption does not drop enough, the ISO can order utility companies to alternate power outages to prevent the grid from collapsing.
What should I do during a Flex Alert to save energy?
Here are some things you can do:
- Set your air conditioner to 78 degrees or higher.
- Turn off unnecessary lights.
- Unplug electrical appliances that you are not using.
- Close blinds and curtains to keep rooms cooler.
- Use fans instead of running the air conditioner.
- Avoid using major appliances such as dishwashers, washers and dryers.
- Wait to start charging your electric car until the Flex alert ends.
- If your water heater is electric, wait for that hot shower.
- Instead of watching TV or playing Madden, start a board game, do a puzzle, or read a book.
When you know a Flex Alert is due later in the day, consider charging your devices and turning on the air conditioning ahead of time. Then unplug your things and turn the thermostat up to 78 degrees or more once the alert is triggered.
“It’s during those Flex alerts, those peak times, that you want to save power,” said Diane Castro, spokeswoman for Southern California Edison, in a 2021 interview with The Times.
Complying with a Flex Alert is entirely voluntary. No one will come knocking on your door if you use your AC to turn your living room into a meat locker. But an overloaded network can lead to power outages, wildfires, and other bad things that we generally want to avoid, so it’s in your best interest to do your part.
If there’s a risk of a power outage where you are, here’s what to do before, during, and after the power outage. And if a wildfire breaks out in your area and you may need to evacuate, we have advice on what to take with you and what to leave behind.
If you want to prepare your home for when – not if – California hits another big earthquake, sign up for our Unshaken newsletter series.
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