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February 11, 2021

BTU ready for cold weather; energy conservation encouraged

BTU is prepared for the freezing temperatures forecasted this weekend. While BTU and the Texas electric grid are ready to respond to high energy demands, there is always a risk of unexpected energy shortages in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region. Customers are encouraged to conserve energy whenever possible, especially during the early morning hours when temperatures are the coldest and people are getting ready for school and work.

If outages should occur, there is no need for customers to call to report them. BTU has Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) that reports your outage immediately when power is lost. In the event of an outage, customers should turn off all electrical equipment except for a lightbulb or two. By turning off major heating appliances, it lessens the load on the system, which will help system operators and line crews restore power sooner. Once power has been restored for 20 minutes, customers can slowly start turning on more appliances such as heaters.

Customers can take some actions listed below now to prepare for the unseasonably cold weather.

  1. Set your thermostat as low as comfortably possible. The recommended setting is 68°F or lower and even lower while you are sleeping or away from home.Many customers, especially those in the rural territory, can expect to see a rise in their bill if they have electric heat, specifically heat pumps. Heat pumps draw air from outside then warm it to the desired temperature. The colder the outside air temperature, the more difficult it is for your heat pump to warm it up. Many of these systems are equipped with auxiliary heat strips that use resistance heating to quickly warm the cold air. The heat strips use a significant amount of energy. Do not turn the thermostat up by more than two degrees at a time to avoid engaging the auxiliary heat strips.
  2. Cold weather is a good time to check for drafts around your windows and doors. Use weather stripping or caulk to seal leaks to prevent heated air from escaping and cold air coming in.
  3. Open window blinds/drapes, especially south facing, during the day to let the sun’s radiant heat naturally warm your home, close them at night or on overcast days to help keep the chill out.
    • Blinds, drapes, and shades on windows can help reduce draftiness of windows.
    • Many window treatments such as films, window quilts, etc. reduce heat loss.
  4. If you will be using a portable electric heater, only turn it on when you are in the room and make sure it is not near drapes, furniture or other combustible items to avoid a fire hazard.

To prepare for cold weather in the long term, consider investing in the tips below.

  1. Service your HVAC regularly by a professional and change your air filters monthly
  2. Replace old windows with Energy Star® rated windows
  3. Add insulation to attic and exterior walls

You could receive a 10 to 25 percent rebate of your total project costs for installing Energy Star® rated windows, upgrading attic and exterior wall insulation, and installing solar screens through BTU’s SmartHOME Program. Visit our website for more information or to apply.

Posted in: Press Releases