Common sense can save energy

An Ohio Edison spokes-man said that despite dealing with record-breaking cold temperatures, local residents can take several “common-sense steps” to conserve energy during the next few days.

On Monday, Mark Durbin said his company was prepared to face the temperature lows forecast for today.

Still, Ohio Edison and other energy companies across the region were urging customers to be mindful of their use of electricity and natural gas during the extreme cold weather expected this week during the second major cold front to hit the region this year so far.

“For example, turn lights off when you’re not using them. Don’t run appliances during the busiest times of the day,” Durbin said. “And if there’s a problem, let us know as soon as possible and we’ll address it.”

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio reported this week that the “ongoing cold snap” has significantly increased the demand for electricity and natural gas. Energy demands in Ohio are expected to peak today and Wednesday, when overnight temperatures across most of the state are expected to drop below zero, according to a news released issued by the PUCO in Columbus on Monday.

The National Weather Service in Cleveland reported that today’s high was expected to be near 2 degrees with a wind child value as low as -28. A low of -10 with wind chill values as low as -29 was forecast.

The record low for a Jan. 28 is -13, set in 1977.

Temperatures are expected to start climbing again Wednesday with a high near 11 and a low around 5, the weather service reported.

Anticipating extremely low temperatures and high energy demand, PUCO has called on consumers to be aware of energy usage and its impact on natural gas and electric bills.

“Using energy efficiently will help ensure that adequate supplies of electricity and natural gas are available to all consumers when they will need power and heat most,” PUCO Chairman Todd A. Snitchler said. “Maximizing energy efficiency this week will also help consumers reduce their utility bills during what may well be one of the highest energy consumption periods of the year.”

PUCO officials advised that consumers can reduce energy use and help save money on utility bills by following simple tips such as these:

l Set thermostats as low as appropriate to maintain health and comfort;

l Postpone using major electric appliances such as stoves, dishwashers and clothes dryers until mid-day or after 9 p.m., when the demand for electricity decreases;

l Limit use of natural gas appliances during early morning hours;

l Turn off electric lights and appliances that you do not need or are not using;

l Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible. This includes overhead doors on attached garages;

l Seal off unheated, unused rooms;

l Open south-facing window curtains, drapes and blinds during the day. Close them at night to keep the heat in;

l Take extreme care when using space heaters. Make sure they are placed away from combustible materials and, if necessary, properly vented to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

PUCO officials said they have worked with utilities to develop payment plan billing and other forms of energy assistance to help consumers with high energy bills.

They said crews utility companies across the state are standing by to restore service if the weather causes any outages.

Consumers should contact their local utility if they experience an outage or other emergency.

Durbin said right now it’s a matter of “waiting and seeing” how long the cold blast sticks around.

“The forecasts indicate this could be the worst of it and the rest of the week we’ll see temperatures climb, but it really is a question of how long this round will last and how severe it will actually be. But again, if anyone has any problems, we’ll prepared to respond,” he said.