Restoring power after a storm
When electricity goes out, most of us expect power will be restored within a few hours. But when a major storm causes widespread damage, longer outages may result. Co-op line crews work long, hard hours to restore service safely to the greatest number of consumers in the shortest time possible. Here’s what’s going on if you find yourself in the dark.
- High-Voltage Transmission Lines : Transmission towers and cables that supply power to transmission substations (and thousands of members) rarely fail. But when damaged, these facilities must be repaired before other parts of the system can operate.
- Distribution Substation : Each substation serves hundreds or thousands of consumers. When a major outage occurs, line crews inspect substations to determine if problems stem from transmission lines feeding into the substation, the substation itself, or if problems exist down the line.
- Main Distribution Lines : If the Problem cannot be isolated at a distribution substation, distribution lines are checked. These lines carry power to large groups of consumers in communities or housing developments.
- Tap Lines : If local outages persist, supply lines, called tap lines, are inspected. These lines deliver power to transformers, either mounted on poles or place on pads for underground service, outside businesses, schools, and homes.
- Individual Homes : If your home remains without power, the service line between a transformer and your residence may need to be repaired. Always call to report an outage to help line crews isolate local issues.
- Get energy-efficient appliances : When it’s time to replace appliances in your home, look for energy-efficient models, such as ENERGY STAR. In general, ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances use up to 50 percent less energy than standard appliances. Want to know how much you could save by replacing your old refrigerator? Visit Energystar.gov and search “refrigerator calculator” to get an estimate. Do you currently keep an old fridge running in the basement or garage? Ditch it, and you might even make some money: many co-ops have a recycling program, while others offer incentives to switch to ENERGY STAR appliances.
- Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs : Did you know that a 12-watt LED light bulb could last 25 times longer than a 60-watt traditional incandescent bulb? It’s true—plus it costs approximately 80 percent less per year to operate. Even if you can’t make the switch to LEDs just yet, CFLs (the spiral-shaped kind) also provide a significant savings. Compared with the same incandescent bulb, a 15-watt CFL could last 10 times longer and cost about 75 percent less per year to operate.
- Update your water heater : Heat pump water heaters offer the best service for your money. “If your family needs a large water heater, a heat pump water heater is the most efficient choice,” says Josh Littrell, Demand Side Management program manager for East Kentucky Power Cooperative. “Heat pump water heaters are about 70 percent more efficient than conventional electric water heaters. You’ll not only see energy savings for years to come, but you could also receive a $300 ENERGY STAR appliance rebate from your participating Kentucky Touchstone Energy Cooperative. Plus, you could claim a $300 federal tax credit for your purchase through the end of 2016.”
- Conserve water : Conserving heated water in your home can help you save on your electric bill, as well. Consider installing low-flow showerheads and faucets. Take shorter showers instead of baths—in a standard-size tub, a bath uses approximately twice the volume of hot water as a five-minute shower. You can also save when doing the laundry. “One of the easiest ways to save in the laundry room is to wash laundry in cold water,” says Barbie Goodwin, energy advisor at Shelby Energy Cooperative. “This will cut back on the energy used by your water heater dramatically. You should also wash full loads whenever possible. Washing one large load uses much less energy than two or three smaller loads.”
- Flip the switch to off : Whether it’s a light switch, a television, or a coffeepot, turning the switch to the off position can save you in the long run. Many of these small appliances and electronics can draw some power even when they’re turned off, so save even more by unplugging them when not in use or plugging them into a power strip that can be turned on when needed and off when not. Some advanced power strips can even be remotely controlled.
Be Prepared for Storms!
To report an outage, call your local Co-op.
If your lights go off during a storm, be prepared for the power outage. Assemble supplies to have on hand rather than rushing around when the storm is coming and waiting in long lines for milk or bread. Rotate your supplies to keep them fresh and use the following checklist to prepare for power outages:
Have Plenty of Food
- Keep a 3- to 5-day supply of drinking water in plastic bottles. Plan on at least 1 gallon of water per person, per day.
- Store a manual can opener with enough nonperishable foods for 3 to 5 days. Canned meats, tuna fish and peanut butter are good foods to store. Don’t forget pet foods!
- Conserve water by using paper plates and plastic utensils.
- Have a camp stove or grill for outdoor cooking.
Stay In Touch
- Have a portable,battery-powered radio and alarm clock.
- Have one non-portable phone that will work even if power is interrupted.
- Plan where to meet and how to communicate with family members if separated.
Keep essential family member contact information near your phone, in your wallet, and in your glove compartment.
Keep Things Going
- Keep plenty of gas in your car.
- Keep extra batteries, matches, propane, charcoal and firewood.
Stay Happy, Healthy and Warm
- Coordinate with neighbors for care of the elderly and disabled living alone.
- Maintain a supply of prescriptions, nonprescription drugs, vitamins and special dietary foods.
- Playing cards, books, drawing and writing supplies, and board games help pass the time. If you have a video camera and tapes, your family can make a storm documentary.
- Keep sanitary and personal hygiene supplies replenished. Premoistened cleansing towelettes are useful and help conserve water.
- Use plastic trash bags and ties for garbage.
- Put first-aid kits in your home and car.
- Make sure you have cold weather clothing, foul weather gear, blankets and sleeping bags.
- Consider purchasing alternative UL-approved heating devices. For example, a fireplace insert or woodstove will keep the heat in your home instead of up the chimney.
- Use flashlights and other battery-operated lighting instead of candles.
- Keep fire extinguishers fully charged.
- Fill your bathtub with water for bathroom use before the storm (if you have a well).
Check to see current weather conditions (link is external).