As summer heat soars, so does electric usage

The sweltering summer heat is putting pressure on electric usage in Orlando and Kissimmee.

The sweltering summer heat is putting pressure on electric usage in Orlando and Kissimmee.


ORLANDO – The temperatures are not the only thing that have been rising in the past week, as those numbers hit the mid-to-upper 90s, and even clocked in at 100 degrees on Friday.
The soaring heat index also means more people cranking up their air conditioners — and electric usage is soaring as well. Utility providers in both Orlando and Kissimmee reported record usage by Friday afternoon.
The Orlando Utilities Commission recorded sky-high demand, noted spokesman Tim Trudell.
“With another day of very hot temperatures, OUC electric demand is forecasted to reach near record levels,” Trudell noted by email on Friday.
It was the first time in 10 months that electric usage has been this high, he said.
“Last August, OUC customers working to cool homes and offices pushed demand to 1,198 Megawatts (MW) – and unless there is significant rain this afternoon, we will likely approach or exceed that today,” he said.
The good news, Trudell pointed out, is that OUC has “adequate generating capacity” to meet the demand.
But he also reminded customers to be aware that their electric bills would follow the same pattern as the heat and the electric usage — and go up and up and up.
To avoid a big jump in their bill, Trudell encouraged customers to conserve electricity as much as possible. One way to keep the household bill down, OCU notes, is to set your thermostat at 78 degrees — or higher.
“Each degree you raise the thermostat above 78 degrees will save 6-8 percent on the cooling portion of your bill,” OUC notes.
The utility provider also encourages homeowners to replace their air filters on a monthly basis, use shades, drapes and blinds to keep the sun and heat out of their homes, and to turn on ceiling fans to feel cooler.
Just remember to turn them off whenever you leave the room.
OUC wasn’t alone this week. The Kissimmee Utility Authority reported that Friday had tied the utility’s all-time demand record for electricity use.
“KUA recorded an instantaneous system peak of 349.4 megawatts (MW) at 4:54 p.m. this afternoon, tying the previous peak set on Aug. 21, 2014,” noted Chris M. Gent, the vice president of corporate communications. “The temperature at the time of today’s peak was 101 degrees. The new system peak marks the highest demand for electricity in the utility’s 114-year history.”
KUA is recommending that homeowners set their thermostat at 80 degrees, not 78, and points out that raising the temperature by those two degrees can reduce cooling costs by as much as 5 percent.
KUA also reminded those who rely on window units that they’re generally are not designed to cool more than one room.
The heat is likely to stick around for a while. June 21 marks the official first day of summer — even if, in Central Florida, it’s already felt like summer for weeks.
OUC is the second largest municipal utility in Florida and provides electric and water services to 234,000 customers in Orlando, St. Cloud and parts of unincorporated Orange and Osceola counties.
KUA is Florida’s sixth largest community-owned utility, providing power to 67,000 customers in Osceola County.

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