This morning I went to the iPhone’s App Store and downloaded the new mobile app from ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the Texas grid. It’s free, and we’re grid junkies here at StateImpact Texas, so why not take it for a spin?
So how’s the app? It’s okay. Much of the content is static, like conservation tips and some facts about the group. The main page, however, shows real-time load on the grid (as of this writing, 45,226 MW) and the forecast peak demand for the day. It’s the same info (and graphic) from ERCOT’s home page, and in the age of flashy energy apps and devices like NEST, it feels a little behind the times.
There’s also a push notification feature, which will alert you when the grid is getting close to reaching peak demand. So users have the option of getting a push message from ERCOT that says “Turn up your thermostat 2 degrees before you leave home today.” The idea is for people to cut back on their energy use at those times, which typically occur between 3 and 7 p.m. during the summer. (Maybe they should stop charging their phones?)
And the app also has some static conservation tips for helping reduce demand. They aren’t revelatory, but they bear repeating, especially since ERCOT says blackouts may only be avoidable this summer with increased conservation:
- Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronic equipment.
- When at home, close blinds and drapes that get direct sun, set air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, and use fans in occupied rooms to feel cooler.
- When away from home, set air conditioning thermostats to 85 degrees and turn all fans off before you leave. Block the sun by closing blinds or drapes on windows that will get direct sun.
- Do not use your dishwasher, laundry equipment, hair dryers, coffee makers, or other home appliances during the peak hours of 3 to 7 p.m.
- Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers more than necessary.
- Use microwaves for cooking instead of an electric range or oven.
- Set your pool pump to run in the early morning or evening instead of the afternoon.