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Stay cool during extreme heat events

August 14, 2023 Ashley Cissna, EWEB Communications

Over the next several days Lane County is forecasted to reach temperatures upwards of 100 degrees. Here at EWEB, we are ready to deal with the stress that extreme heat may place on our electric system. We encourage customers to be prepared, stay cool and hydrated and practice safety by developing an emergency plan and checking in on neighbors.

Extreme heat can impact the electric grid.

EWEB has enough energy to supply customers, but extreme heat can create "peak demand" events that tax the regional grid as people crank up air conditioning units to stay safe and cool.

Improving the overall energy efficiency of your home is critical in contributing to a more stable and resilient grid. Homes with efficient heating and cooling systems and good insulation use less energy, which can be important in extreme weather events.  EWEB offers several loans and rebate programs to help offset the cost of upgrading windows, insulation, and more.

Using less electricity during peak usage times can also benefit our local grid and power resources. Shifting energy use to "off-peak" can be as simple as running the dishwasher, charging your electric car, or doing the laundry later at night (after 9 p.m.).  Learn more about peak power.

Finally, watching our water use can help the grid as well. It takes a lot of energy to treat and deliver the water you use every day. It takes even more energy to turn it into hot water. Saving water saves energy, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Fixing leaks around the house, taking shorter showers, and planting "water-wise" landscapes are also great ways to take care of our water source, the beautiful McKenzie River. 

Cooling tips for your home

Air conditioning is one way to cool your home, but the energy use can quickly add up on your utility bill. A combination of proper insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, shading, and ventilation will usually keep your home cool, with a low amount of energy use. Here are a few additional tips to help you stay cool over the next several days of forecasted high temperatures:

  • Depending on the air quality, open your windows at night to take advantage of the naturally cooler night air. Opening multiple windows helps to increase cross ventilation and provide a cooling draft.
  • Keep your windows and doors closed during the hottest parts of the day. If you have air conditioning, close the doors to unused rooms so you aren’t working to cool unnecessary areas of your home.
  • Shade the windows of your home. External shades and trees are best, but even just using a curtain or other window covering inside the home can prevent the sun from warming the inside of your home.
  • Use a fan instead of the air conditioning. Moving area feels cooler, so give your AC unit a break and set up a few fans to create an air flow through your living space.
  • Think about how you are preparing meals. Ovens and ranges can put off a lot of heat, so consider an alternative cooking method, such as a slow cooker, pressure cooker or microwave. If the air quality is ok, use a grill or camp stove to avoid heating the kitchen.

If necessary, take advantage of one of the many cooling centers available in Lane County to help you beat the heat. Remember to drink plenty of water and stay indoors or in the shade as much as possible. Heat related illness is a real and serious threat when temperatures rise, particularly for young children, adults 65 and older, and people with chronic illness, are overweight, work outdoors or have a low income. Learn to recognize the signs of heat related illnesses and check on your friends and family. The best way to protect yourself from the harmful effects of excessive heat is to stay cool, stay hydrated and stay informed.

Plan ahead for emergencies

EWEB crews are getting ready to deal with the stress that extreme heat may place on our electric system. While we hope to avoid power outages, we always encourage customers to plan ahead for staying cool, fed, and hydrated in the event the power does go out. 

Have alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using power-dependent medical devices. Create an outage kit with a few basic items, such as: 

  • Stored or bottled water 
  • Flashlights and fresh batteries 
  • Back-up batteries for cellphones 
  • Battery-powered or hand-held fans  
  • Frozen cold packs  

 Plan ahead to relocate to a friend or family member's home or to a shelter, especially if you have a medical condition that requires electricity or you'll need to work or learn from home during an outage. Find more emergency preparedness tips and sign up for EWEB's Pledge to Prepare at eweb.org/emergencyprep. To receive EWEB related emergency alerts, sign-up for our emergency alert emails.

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