Brownouts & Rolling Blackouts: We Examine Reliant's Sometimes Odd Energy-Saving Tips

ERCOT says it set a new record for electricity demand yesterday, and it won't be long before it's broken again.

Reliant Energy has sent out a bunch of tips on how to conserve electricity during these heavy-demand 100-degree days. We present some of them.

Did you know a dirty air filter can cause an air conditioning system to work harder and less efficiently? Changing the filter on an air conditioning system regularly is an inexpensive and easy way to make sure it's performing at peak efficiency. Check your air filter at least once a month - use a monthly bill or magazine as a reminder - and if it's dirty, replace it

Changing the air filter? Do people also need to be told there's an on/off switch for appliances and lights? Also, props for supporting the print industry. "Honey, we got the new Reader's Digest -- let's check the air filter!"

Did you know that for every degree you set your thermostat below 78, you could be adding up to five percent to your summer cooling costs? Raise your thermostat a couple of degrees and turn on the fan. A fan will make you feel two to four degrees cooler and cost about a penny an hour to operate. Also, if you are gone for more than four hours in a typical day, Reliant recommends raising your thermostat by four degrees.

That's a whole lot of math, there. Next.

Did you know there is a quick and easy way to tell if your air conditioner system is working properly? Before picking up the phone to call an air conditioning repair company, Reliant recommends checking the temperature of your house and the air coming out of your air conditioner vents. At minimum, the air coming out of the vents should be 15 degrees cooler than the ambient room temperature. If it's not, it may be time for a service call.

Let's see if we understand this -- if you think your a/c may be broken, see if cold air is coming out of the vents. WHY HAS NO ONE EXPLAINED THIS TO US BEFORE?!?

To be fair, Reliant does offer some good tips -- your blinds should be closed, and don't forget to switch directions on your ceiling fan (although frankly, you should have figured this out by August if you weren't feeling a breeze). And if everyone doesn't do some conserving, ERCOT will eventually do it for you via brownouts and rolling blackouts.

And then there's this:

Did you know that leaving doors and vents closed in unoccupied rooms does not save energy? Air conditioners require free flowing air through all the rooms in order to work at peak efficiency. For this reason, it's best to leave doors and vents open in all rooms.

Hmmm. Cooling little-used rooms saves you money. If you says so, Reliant.

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