Get a Handle on the Heat

Summer temperatures in the Tennessee Valley are sweltering. Will we have enough electricity to beat the heat? The TVA manager in charge of forecasting electricity load says: “Absolutely.”

JULY 19, 2017—With an average temperature of about 95 degrees across the Tennessee Valley for the next few days, folks are running the A/C at full blast to beat the heat. TVA, the largest public utility in the United States, says it is ready for record-high electricity demand.

“We can expect to see electricity demand peak on Thursday and Friday at about 30,000 Megawatts,” says Patrick Walshe, TVA manager of Resource Operations and Analysis. Walshe’s team is in charge of monitoring the weather 24/7 and predicting electricity demand.

Knowing the exact temperature and getting the forecast right is critical because every degree adds or subtracts about 300 Megawatts—that’s enough energy to power about 170,000 homes.    

According to Walshe, the last time TVA saw load this high was back in the summer of 2012—peaking at 31,000 Megawatts.

Not to worry, Walshe says. “While we expect to be about 18% above the summer average electrical load this week, there’s plenty of power to keep us cool.” With TVA’s diverse energy portfolio the utility can switch between generating sources to keep costs as low as possible.

“Public power is all about helping you save money on your monthly power bill,” Walshe explains. “We always generate electricity with the right fuel, at the right time, at the lowest cost possible.”

Money Savings Tips:

To keep us all calm, cool and collected, and to keep more money in your wallet, TVA offers these tips to help you save money on your electric bill.

Summer energy use is usually highest—and it costs the most for TVA to generate electricity—between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., during the warmest part of the day and when people arrive home from work. Reducing energy consumption between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. will help TVA generate electricity at the lowest possible price, and pass the savings on to you through lower fuel costs. 

These free, low-cost measures can offset the additional energy needed to run your air conditioner throughout the summer, saving the strain on your wallet:

Top Tips for Saving Energy in the Summer Heat

  • Keep it clean when the sun goes down. Refrain from running your dishwasher, clothes washer or dryer during the heat of the day. Run your dishwasher only when it's full.
  • Filter it out. Make sure your air conditioner filter is clean—a dirty filter means the air conditioner won’t get as cool and will use more power than necessary.
  • Mom was right…shut those doors! Try to minimize the amount of times you open and shut the doors leading outside to keep the cool air in. The same theory includes the refrigerator door.
  • Do a fan dance. Use ceiling and floor fans to keep air moving in your home—they use a lot less power than setting your air conditioner lower.
  • Unplug to power down. Unplug any unused or unnecessary electronic devices—even when turned off, they still are generating heat if they're plugged in.
  • Cut the cord to the old appliances. Got an old fridge out in the garage or down in the basement? Consider letting that sentimental dinosaur go…it’s still inefficient.
  • Lighten up. Make that switch to more energy-efficient light bulbs. You'll save money, and—bonus!—they put off less heat.
  • A slightly warmer house equals less sizzle on your budget. Setting your thermostat between 75º and 78º during the day (even higher if no one is home) can make a significant difference in your power bill.
  • Made in the shade. Create your own shade by keeping curtains closed during the day on the south, west, and east sides of the house to block out sunlight.
  • Kiss the hot cook goodbye. Plan menus ahead of time for meals that require less range or oven heat. Consider using the microwave instead…it cooks faster and doesn’t create as much heat as stovetop cooking.
  • Or, get out of the house. Consider using your gas or charcoal grill outside for cooking rather than kitchen appliances.
  • Keep your cool. Insulate your attic and walls and seal cracks to keep air conditioning inside where it belongs. Likewise, caulk and weatherstrip around windows and doors.
  • But not too cool. Set the refrigerator temperature at 36º to 39º and your freezer at 0º to 5º F.
  • Create some breathing room. Keep weeds and debris away from your outdoor air conditioning unit.
  • Look within. Perform a do-it-yourself home energy audit. Online and paper versions are available at