How extreme winter weather impacts reliability

Posted on Feb 20 2024 in Daviess-Martin County REMC
Ryan Dant

When outdoor temperatures drop, our electricity use increases. That’s because we’re doing more activities inside, and our heating systems are running more often to counteract colder outdoor temperatures. Factor in that we all tend to use electricity at the same times — in the morning and early evenings — and that equals a lot of strain on our electric grid.

At Daviess-Martin County REMC, we work closely with our local generation and transmission (G&T) cooperative in resource and infrastructure planning to ensure you have the power you need whenever you flip a switch. Still, the electric grid is much larger than your local co-op and G&T.

In winter, when even more electricity is being used simultaneously across the country, electricity demand can exceed supply, especially if an unexpected event like a sudden snow or ice storm or equipment malfunction occurs. If this happens, which is rare, the grid operator for our region of the country may call for rolling power outages to relieve pressure on the grid, and Daviess-Martin County REMC will inform you about the situation.

Daviess-Martin County REMC and our G&T take proactive steps to create a resilient portion of the grid and ensure electric reliability in extreme weather, including regular system maintenance, grid modernization efforts, and disaster response planning, but it takes everyone to keep the grid reliable.

To help keep the heat on for you, your family, and your neighbors, here are a few things you can do to relieve pressure on the grid — and save a little money along the way:

  • Select the lowest comfortable thermostat setting and turn it down several degrees whenever possible. Your heating system must run longer to make up the difference between the thermostat and outdoor temperatures. Seal air leaks around windows and exterior doors with caulk and weatherstripping. Air leaks and drafts force your heating system to work harder than necessary.
  • Stagger your use of major appliances such as dishwashers, ovens, and dryers. Start the dishwasher before you go to bed, and use smaller countertop appliances like slow cookers and air fryers to save energy.
  • Ensure that your heating system is optimized for efficiency with regular maintenance and proper insulation. Make sure your furnace filter isn’t clogged and dirty. Replace it as needed.
  • When possible, use cold water to reduce water heating costs. Setting your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees can help you save energy and minimize mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes.
  • Unplug devices when not in use to eliminate unnecessary energy use. Even when turned off, electronics in standby mode consume energy. Plug devices into a power strip so you can turn them all off at once with the push of a button.

As we face the challenges posed by winter weather, understanding its impact on energy demand is crucial for maintaining a reliable power supply. By adopting energy conservation practices during periods of extreme cold, you can save money on your electric bills and contribute to the power grid’s resilience, keeping our local community warm and connected.