Business Briefs

Progress Energy, Duke customers set new winter demand records

Utility customers for Progress Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Carolinas on Monday set records for peak electricity demand in winter.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Utility customers for Progress Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Carolinas on Monday set records for peak electricity demand in winter.

With temperatures across the region in the teens and single digits, customers of Raleigh-based Progress Energy used 12,504 megawatt-hours of electricity between 7 and 8 a.m., officials said.

The previous winter record was 12,142 megawatt-hours on the morning of Feb. 6, 2007. The all-time peak-demand record was set on Aug. 9, 2007, at 12,656 megawatt-hours.

Duke Energy Carolinas customers used 17,282 megawatt-hours during the same time period, officials said, topping the previous record of 16,968 megawatt-hours last Feb. 5.

"We're working 24 hours a day to ensure that our customers have the power they need through this significant cold weather," Lloyd Yates, chief executive and president of Progress Energy Carolinas, said in a statement. "We do not expect problems in meeting our customers' demand for electricity, but we encourage customers to learn more about how they can use energy wisely and efficiently – not only on frigid mornings but every day."

Utility offered the following tips for cold-weather energy conservation:

  • Keep the thermostat on your heating system at the lowest comfortable setting. If you are going to be away for several days, turn the thermostat to a lower setting, but not to "Off." A sudden frigid snap could cause your pipes to freeze and burst.
  • Check filters at least monthly and clean or change them as needed. Dirty filters can increase operating costs by 20 percent and can damage equipment.
  • Caulk any space around windows and other places where air leaks to prevent cold drafts and heat escape.
  • Use exhaust fans sparingly in winter. Heat and moisture from bathing and cooking contribute heat to your home. But don't use the oven to heat a room.
  • If your home has a fireplace, be sure the damper fits tightly, and close it when the fireplace is not in use. Add a glass fireplace screen.
  • Cover bare floors. Carpeting adds to comfort and heat retention, especially if there is little or no floor insulation.
  • Use ceiling fans in winter to distribute heat around the room. Reverse the direction of the fan blades from that used for summer cooling.
  • Use insulated or heavy curtains on windows facing the north side of the house. Keep curtains and shades closed at night and on cloudy days.
  • For heat pump users, set the thermostat to a constant setting and leave it there, and make sure drapes and furniture are not blocking air registers or returns.
  • Keep the oven, the refrigerator and other appliances clean. Clean equipment runs more efficiently.
  • Use microwave ovens whenever possible. They use less than half the power of a conventional oven.
  • Whenever possible, wash full loads in the dishwasher and clothes washing machine, rather than partial loads.
  • Take short showers instead of tub baths and install a flow restrictor or energy-saving shower head.
  • Look for EnergyGuide labels on most major home appliances. The more efficient models save you money in the long run.

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