Extreme heat: Stay cool and get ready

As we prepare for record heat and very high electric use, we urge you to get ready, too.

With forecasts calling for a record-breaking heat wave this week, we’re preparing for very high electricity demand during the next few days as everyone tries to stay cool.

What we’re doing

First, we’re focusing all of our resources on ensuring you have the power you need this week, as energy use spikes to what we predict will be record-breaking levels.

And, we continuously update our systems to ensure that the grid operates safely and reliably. However, extreme heat during an extended period places extra stress on electrical equipment (including transformers and power lines) and can lead to power outages.

We’re ensuring our systems are ready to perform as needed including:

  • Using high-tech infrared monitoring on equipment to detect potential problems before they occur.
  • Activating extra cooling systems on distribution equipment, in addition to what’s normally there.
  • Lining up our crews, contract crews and support staff to respond to outages around the clock if needed.
  • Arranging for backup from mutual aid crews.

What you should do:

1. Have an outage kit

No matter the weather, we want all customers to prepare outage kits and know how to report an outage.

2. Stay safe during the heat

If you rely on electricity for your health, be sure to have a backup plan. Know how to get to an alternate location or emergency cooling center should you lose power.

If you’ve got an extra fan or are out buying fans, consider donating one to the Meals on Wheels People for distribution to elderly neighbors in need.

3. Plan to keep food safe

Consider these food safety tips from foodsafety.gov:

  • Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags to help keep food cool if your power goes out. Don’t fill them too full, or they might split as water expands when it freezes.
  • Use appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to be sure your food is safe in case of a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40°F or lower in the refrigerator, 0°F or lower in the freezer.
  • Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
  • Have a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.

4. Review these tips to help you keep cool

  • Bring the cool air in. Open windows in the morning or late evening when it’s cool outside. When it’s approaching 75 to 80 degrees, close windows and draw the shades or blinds to keep in cool air.
  • If you don’t have good blinds, tack up a light-colored sheet or blanket over sun-facing windows block sunlight.
  • Don’t heat your home unnecessarily. Avoid:
    • Cooking with your stove or oven. Use a microwave or outside grill instead.
    • Drying laundry and running the dishwasher in the afternoon and evening. Do laundry and dishes in the early morning or late evening, or set your timer to have them run overnight. And turn off the heat dry setting on your dishwasher.
  • Your air conditioning system or stand-alone unit has to work much harder when it’s this hot to maintain the same temperature as usual — which can use more energy. To help offset this, consider:
    • Setting your air conditioner thermostat to 78 degrees or higher when you’re at home, health permitting, and 85 degrees when you’re away.
    • Turning on your ceiling fan when using the air conditioner, which allows you to raise your thermostat about 4 degrees to save energy without reducing comfort.
    • But remember: Fans cool people, not rooms, so turn fans off in empty rooms.
  • Switch to energy-saving LED light bulbs. They don’t put off heat like incandescent or halogen lights, use up to 85 percent less energy and can last 25 years or more.
  • Use our free online Energy Tracker tool to keep an eye on your energy use.

5. Stay in touch

Follow PGE on Facebook (@portlandgeneralelectric) Twitter or Instagram (@PortlandGeneral) and know how to contact us.