It’s that time of year again, summer is here and along with it comes the heat!! As the days grow longer and hotter, air conditioners run longer and use more power. This additional usage puts a strain on our electrical power grid throughout the city. Air conditioners/heat pumps use a tremendous amount of electricity, and if they are running continuously all day long, this can put our public power system at risk of temporary failure.
Power outages can cause a lot of temporary problems for users and require repairs from the utility company which can result in higher rates. For this reason, our local power company, OPPD, has instituted their “Cool Smart” program.
You may have noticed a small box mounted near an A/C with the OPPD logo. This is the control box for the “Cool Smart” program that helps regulate A/C usage during peak usage hours. The program is optional, and offers discounts for initial enrollment and yearly continued participation. When enrolled, OPPD can control your A/C unit to turn on and off at intervals for 15 minutes, usually during peak usage times between 3 and 7 pm.
Program participants may notice a 1-3 degree temperature rise inside the home during this time. This program does not activate for more than 12 days a year or during weekends and holidays. Also, customers can ‘opt-out’ up to 2 days of power management for special occasions, with a 24 hr notice.
For regular A/C maintenance:
- Keep fins cleaned at the exterior unit. Cottonwood fibers and dust love to clog the space between fins and reduce the amount of air being pulled through the unit. This inefficiency requires the unit to run longer and use more energy. Clean with a light spray of the hose if the unit is not too clogged. If the fins are totally plugged, it is better to run water through the fins from the inside out which requires the top to be removed.
- Most A/C’s sit on a plastic pad that should be kept level. Often an A/C will settle with the fill dirt near the house.
- Keep refrigerant lines well insulated.
A little A/C maintenance along with participation in programs such as “Cool Smart” can create valuable energy savings.
By Tim Krof
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