There’s one category where summer and winter are becoming more alike – electricity demand.
There was a time when the longer, colder nights moved us indoors and in turn led to increased use of lights, heaters and other appliances. This meant that typically, the highest levels of electricity demand occurred during winter.
But over the past few years things have changed.
Demand is heating up
Summer electricity demand has started to match what we use in winter.
It’s surprising, but Calgary’s record for demand was set in July 2013 at 1,678 megawatts – or 25 megawatts more than the current record for winter demand. To put that into perspective, it takes one megawatt to power 10,000 100-watt lightbulbs, so that addition of 25 megawatts is equal to 250,000 bulbs being used in Calgary alone.
If you’re interested you can watch real-time grid demand on enmax.com.
There are a few reasons for this rising summer demand including home design, population growth, use of air conditioning cooling systems and even our increased use of electronics and chargers.
Weather forecasters are predicting a warmer-than-normal summer, and if June is any indication, it seems like we’re in for a hot time, and likely some strain on our electrical system while we try to beat the heat.
Three easy ways to chill out demand
Even though residential electricity use accounts for just 20 – 30 per cent of the demand, there are a few easy things we can do to reduce the draw on the grid.
1) Go Ghostbusting
Unplug electronics that are not in use to prevent phantom loss of electricity. Even when turned off, chargers for cell phones, TVs, computer monitors, and other devices can account for up to 10 per cent of your electricity bill. Use a power strip to simply unplug one connection point instead of several.
2) See the light
Consider replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights or LEDs. Not only do these use less power but they do not heat up as much when in use. Also, minimizing your use of halogen bulbs which can get very hot will help keep your home cooler and reduce demand.
3) It’s a dry heat
Drying clothes outside is an excellent way to conserve energy and take advantage of the summer heat. Also, if possible set a timer on your washing machine so that your loads run overnight when demand is lower.