The record heat in Texas this week has sent electricity usage soaring. Several Texas power plants also failed unexpectedly, leading to greater burdens for the power grid and higher wholesale energy prices in the spot market. ERCOT, the grid operator, issued several emergency warnings this week and has called for Texans to conserve.

But conservation makes sense even in the absence of a heat emergency — especially for anyone who wants to save on their home electric bills. Here are four energy conservation tips, courtesy  These should help ERCOT keep the lights on and help you save money.

  1.  Electric ovens and electric ranges can be energy hogs.  If possible, cook with a microwave instead.
  2. Peak electricity usage hours are 3 to 7 p.m., when folks come home from work and crank up the AC. Avoid using the dishwasher, laundry equipment and other home appliances during these hours.
  3. Have a swimming pool? Set the pump to operate in the early morning or evening, not the afternoon.
  4. Turn your thermostat up to 85 when you’re away from home, and shut off the fans. Be sure to close window blinds to keep out direct sunlight.

Have more conservation tips? Leave them in the comment field at the bottom of this post, or share them on RechargeTexas Facebook page. The Public Utility Commission also has great conservation suggestions. You can find the agency’s “PowerfulAdvice” link here.

— R.A. Dyer