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The weather in South Texas can do some surprising things, like more than 3,450 lightning strikes during a storm that hit us in the late afternoon on June 6. Ten days later, on June 16, we experienced 7,001 lightning strikes between 11:30 p.m. and 2:50 a.m. That’s a surprising amount! One thing that shouldn’t surprise us about the weather is that it’s going to get hot, really hot, from June through September.

When it gets to be a scorcher, everyone does whatever they can do to get themselves cool. Nobody likes walking into a hot, humid house after a long day at work, which means air conditioners start running full blast. At the same time, there’s dinner to prepare, clothes to be washed, dishes to be cleaned, devices to be charged – the list goes on. The trouble is, when everyone tries to cool down their home or business at the same time, the amount of electricity being used spikes.

CPS Energy sees it happen in our community every summer. Energy demand, the amount of electricity being used, increases significantly between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays. This pattern isn’t unique to San Antonio. Our statewide electric grid experiences the same peak energy demand pattern.

Last year, the power grid for the state hit a record peak electricity demand of 73,473 megawatts (MW) on July 19 between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. San Antonio’s record demand was 5,080 MW between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on July 23.

1 MW of electricity can power about 200 Texas homes during periods of peak demand. If electricity use is reduced by 15 MW, it’s the same as powering 3,000 homes. If we reduce our use by 100 MW, we’ve essentially powered 20,000 homes.  That’s a significant change in energy supply and demand.

Peak energy demand days can be bad news for your personal energy bill if you keep the AC running full blast at 72 degrees. The good news is there’s plenty you can do this summer to help you save on your energy bill and alleviate strain on the power grid. You can reduce your energy use between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. by keeping your house a little warmer and avoiding the use of large appliances like your stove, oven, dishwasher, and laundry machines all at once.

This summer, we’ll communicate with you on days high energy demand is anticipated. If you’re tuning in to local news, watch for segments about the weather and alerts about high energy demand. Keep an eye out throughout town for digital billboard messages on your commutes asking you to reduce your electricity use between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. You can also check for energy demand alerts on our website, cpsenergy.com, and on our social media messages. Some of our customers receive phone calls, emails, and texts asking them to use less energy during the day.

We have programs you can sign up for that offer a $150 rebate on Wi-Fi thermostats for both residential and business customers. Wi-Fi thermostats let you manage your home’s temperature from anywhere, and you can earn an annual $30 bill credit by allowing us to adjust your thermostat settings by a few degrees as needed to manage the demand for electricity. Qualifying businesses can join the more than 800 businesses participating in our “Commercial Demand Response Program” and receive rebates for reducing the amount of electricity they use when we notify them conservation is needed.

You can reduce your electricity consumption and your bills. Minimize energy-intensive tasks, especially between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on days you hear about an energy demand alert. We can’t change the weather, but we can make a surprising difference in the effect it has on our energy bills and on our electricity resources.

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CPS Energy

CPS Energy is the nation’s largest municipally owned energy utility providing both natural gas and electric service to customers in and around San Antonio.