NSTAR expects soaring energy use, asks customers to conserve

NSTAR has placed temporary generators at the Oak Bluffs highway garage to help meet power demands this summer. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

NSTAR, the public utility that supplies electricity to Martha’s Vineyard, is preparing for energy demand that could approach record levels, as residents try to keep cool in a heat wave.

NSTAR is currently supplying much of the energy customers demand through portable generators, strategically placed around the Island, after one of the three working submarine cables, which carry power from the mainland, failed last week.

In a press release, NSTAR offered some tips to conserve energy use in hot weather:

Keeping the heat out and the cool in – Sunlight shining in windows adds unwanted summer heat to homes, making it harder to keep indoor air cool. Using blinds, shades or drapes to block the sun can help. And, even without air conditioning, most homes will stay cooler if the windows are closed during the hottest part of the day. Simply close them early and open them again when the outside temperature drops.

Air conditioners work best in the shade – If possible, keep room air conditioners out of the sun. They run much more efficiently when kept cool. Installing one in a north-facing window is usually ideal. When shopping for an air conditioner, look for the Energy Star label to ensure the unit is energy efficient.

Raising the temperature lowers the bill – Keeping air conditioner thermostats set at a moderate temperature saves energy and money. Because air conditioners also remove humidity from the air, they’ll help keep occupants cool even with a higher temperature setting.

It’s a great time to cook outside – Cooking indoors will heat a home, cooking outdoors won’t. Today’s gas grills are more than just a way to cook traditional summertime favorites – they make great ovens, too. A closed lid and a properly adjusted temperature can result in a perfectly cooked meal. Many grill manufacturers even list the optimal settings and provide easy recipes right in the owner’s manual.

Fridges and freezers are big-time energy users – To make the most of energy dollars, be sure to vacuum their coils regularly, close their doors quickly and keep them well-stocked. Using jugs of water is a perfect low-cost option to fill empty space. Old refrigerators and freezers typically use three times more electricity than today’s energy-efficient models. If that extra fridge or freezer in the basement isn’t really needed, consider unplugging it for extra savings.

Conserving energy – It’s always best to shut lighting and appliances off when not needed. Incandescent lights, when on, add heat to a home. Turning lights off when they are not needed will help keep the home cooler.