Texas Education Agency commissioner Robert Scott sent a letter last month to school administrators answering questions about the effect that the state’s lingering heat wave would have on their schools’ electricity usage. The letter also offered tips for how administrators could help decrease energy consumption and save money off monthly electric bills.
Scott eased some concerns among administrators by telling them that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the agency responsible for the state’s electric grid, had factored the start of the school year into its forecast of electricity needs and that ERCOT doesn’t anticipate a strain on the grid as a result of schools opening their doors.
However, Scott wrote that ERCOT would continue to closely monitor the situation to determine if further conservation measures, already enacted in many cities and towns throughout the state, are necessary.
The letter noted that peak electricity use generally occurs between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. — after many schools have dismissed students for the day — but that ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission of Texas offered several tips for helping administrators save energy and money while easing demand from the grid:
- Set the thermostat 2 degrees to 4 degrees warmer than usual and close blinds and curtains on windows that get direct sunlight.
- Turn off all lights and electrical equipment when not in use.
- Unplug hallway water fountains after 3 p.m.
- Avoid non-essential activities involving electricity during peak hours, including running large copy jobs and charging cell phones and laptops.
Texas Education Agency energy conservation letter to administrators, Aug. 11, 2011.
“State Officials Ask Schools to Conserve Energy as Extreme Heat Expected to Continue,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Aug. 11, 2011.