Think back about one year. Here was the headline: “Duke Energy wants you to conserve electricity during cold snap.” It was just more than a year ago that Duke set a single-day record for electric demand (January 5).
We have not had anything like it yet this season, but it could be just around the corner. So, get ready. Who knows?
A year ago Duke expected demand to be perhaps 25 percent higher than normal. That affects customers. A fifth of energy is used in the residential sector. Buildings differ how well they hold heat, with anywhere up to 40 percent of heat sometimes leaked outside. The cost for that cold weather falls hard on people in older homes that may not have the energy efficiency of newer homes. (Source) So, a year ago Duke asked customers to conserve electricity to ease stress on the grid and generating facilities.
Carolina electric companies have advice about ways to save when the weather turns cold. Duke has helpful advice about weatherization. SCE&G, now Dominion-owned Southeast Energy Group. has energy-saving tips. These include reminders to check and clean air filters in heating systems for efficiency. The NC Electric Cooperatives take a look at outages and safety tips. Even the Accuweather people have advice about surviving a wintertime outage, noting that, “Carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and electric shock are hazards during an outage. Place generators away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.”
Cold and snow can stress the electric system. Ice weighs-down power lines and can cause an outage. Tree branches covered with ice can snap and take down lines. Additionally, in cold weather electric customers run heating equipment all-out, adding stress. If we have severe cold weather and power lines are affected, Duke Energy has good safety advice: “Stay away from downed or sagging power lines, and do not touch anything that is on or near a power line (i.e., trees or tree limbs, cars, ladders).”
So, far there has been lots of rain, record rain in some areas. Some of the mountain areas had snow this season, but they are prepped for snow. January is the snowiest month of the year in the Carolinas. Coldest, too.
Be prepared, we are only part way through the month. Remember a year ago!