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Tips for summertime energy efficiency, surviving power outages

Published: Jun. 6, 2016 at 8:07 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 6, 2016 at 10:34 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Power outages during these triple-digit temperatures can be brutal.

Summer definitely is the time when we have outages from heat or from monsoon storms later in season.

There are things we can do to keep our cool until the lights come back on.

"If it's hot and the power goes out, just keep the window shades down. Close the blinds. Probably turn off things that make heat. Keep the refrigerator door closed so the food doesn't spoil,"  Tucsonan Laura de la Torre said.

"Food in the refrigerator can stay fresh and usable for up to four hours, depending on how much is in there and how cold it is to start," Tucson Electric Power spokesman Joseph Barrios said. "If it's any longer than that, you may need to consider either packing it in a cooler or adding ice to your refrigerator or perhaps even throwing food away."

When it's hot we demand a lot out of the electrical grid.

Barrios said that and the sun pounding down on TEP's electrical equipment can take its toll on that equipment. Barrios also said outages this time of year can often be shorter than they are during the summer monsoon storms.

Those storms can bring high winds that can knock down power poles, that happened last year.

Lightning can fry electrical equipment so the damage can be worse and take longer to fix.

Barrios said no matter what the cause, call to report all outages. Don't assume TEP knows your power is out.

This also is the time of year when our electric bills can skyrocket, especially if we have air conditioning.

We can get some good tips from our neighbors.

"We have ceiling fans in all of the rooms and we also have curtains and blinds that insulate the house or keep the heat out," Tucsonan Francesca Imig said.

Barrios said ceiling fans and oscillating fans are energy efficient.

Once you've done all that, the question is where should you set the air conditioner thermostat?

"The department of energy recommends that you set it at 78 degrees and then if you can move that up and remain comfortable, that's another way that you can be more efficient with how you're using your cooling system and trying to lower your electric bill," Barrios said.

Another question: Where should you set the thermostat when you leave the house for the day?

An air conditioning expert, Aaron Romero of Air Quest Heating and Cooling Corp, said there's a good rule of thumb to save energy and the life of your AC.

Romero said, before you leave, set the thermostat three or four degrees higher than you normally have it.

So, if it's usually set at 78 when you're home, set it at 81 or 82 when you leave the house.

Romero said turning off the air conditioner or setting it very high just makes it work harder, at full speed and it will take hours for it to cool the house back down.

The number for TEP customers to call in the event of a power outage is 623-7711.

Click here for information on outages.

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