Skip to main content


Person adjusting a wall thermostat temperature

Warmer Together

Small Steps Help Trim Energy Use

A little more than a year ago Bonnie Bruce moved from the North Carolina coast to Allardt, Tennessee, near the Kentucky border. The shift in climate was an unexpected jolt.  

“It never snowed on the coast,” she said. “But this morning here it was 4 degrees and snowing.”

She considers severe weather a call to action.

“It’s part of my philosophy of life. We all share the same planet, our energy is finite, and we’re all stewards of that energy,” she said. “We can all cut back a little bit and be a little more careful.”

She has taken small steps, she said, starting with her windows.

For a few dollars she bought winterizing kits — essentially sheets of plastic applied with a hair dryer — and put them on her kitchen windows.

“Makes a difference,” she said. “That room is noticeably warmer.”

She also hung an inexpensive set of thermal curtains, which she opens when the sun shines in, and closes when it doesn’t. She added a bit of rubber trim around her front door. And she keeps her thermostat at 65 degrees.

“I just do painless things,” she said. “When I watch TV, I’ll snuggle up under a quilt. That’s not bad.”

It helps manage her own costs and it helps her neighbors, too.

“We’re very lucky to have the technology to power our lives ... but in an emergency, why not cut back some?” she said. “In the long run we’re all better off.”

Bonnie Bruce taking a selfie with a snowy landscape in the background

Bonnie Bruce at her home in Allardt, Tennessee.

Managing Peak Demand

Those are wise words for the people of the Valley region, where temperatures this week plunged into the single digits.

“Our employees are working around the clock to keep everyone safe and warm during the bitterly cold weather we’re experiencing,” Jeff Lyash, TVA President and CEO, said. “Our power system remains stable with our generating plants operating as planned."

And that’s by design.

This past year, TVA invested more than $123 million and completed 3,400 winter readiness activities to harden its system and enhance the reliability and resiliency at its coal, gas and hydro-electric facilities.

Workers modernized heat trace lines, for example, at all of TVA’s 17 gas plants and four coal plants. They also installed wind breaks and enclosures to protect equipment from cold air.

This year, TVA plans to invest an additional $120 million above regular funding levels to enhance the reliability of its generation fleet.

But the actions that people take inside their homes and businesses can also make a big difference in the region’s collective energy use.

That’s particularly impactful during periods of peak demand.

Extremely cold temperatures and near-zero wind chill can lead to increases in power demand over an extended period of time, as people turn to electrified heat sources.

This pushes demand higher, leading to what is referred to as a peak.

This week, TVA is anticipating all-time highs in peak demand. The last time TVA saw demand this high was August 2007, when temperatures reached 102 degrees.

Snug at Home  

One of the best ways to conserve energy? Lower your thermostat a few degrees.

TVA specialists recommend setting the thermostat at 65 to 68 degrees.

“Heating your house to 68 degrees is still going to provide the house with comfort,” Scott Harrell, program operations manager for TVA EnergyRight, said. “It will also save you energy and help the grid be more resilient in these cold times.”

Lowering the thermostat 7 to 10 degrees for eight hours a day can save up to 10% on heating and cooling bills each year.

“My family and I have set our thermostats down to 68,” Harrell said.

He offered additional tips to lower energy use amid high demand:

  • Use appliances in off-peak hours. Power use typically peaks twice a day – once in the morning, when people ready for work, and once again during dinnertime. Use washers, dryers and dishwashers at off-peak times to reduce energy use during high-demand hours. Washing clothes and dishes with cold water can also help lower costs.
  • Unplug unused electronics. Turn off non-essential appliances and lights. Those so-called vampire items can suck up energy.
  • Seal air leaks. Properly weather-stripping your doors and windows can conserve heat. If it’s unsafe to drive to the store for weather stripping, use a towel to cover the gaps. “If you see light coming through the corners of your windows or underneath your door, that means air is coming in as well,” Harrell said. “Simply roll up a towel and stick it against the door.”
  • Embrace the sunlight. Opening curtains on sunlit windows during the day can naturally boost indoor temperatures through solar energy. Close the curtains at night to keep your home insulated and save energy.  “If you have west- or south-facing windows, you can keep those blinds open during the day,” Harrell said.
  • Reverse ceiling fan direction. Most ceiling fans can run clockwise or counterclockwise – in winter, set it to run clockwise. When hot air rises, the rotation of the ceiling fan will push warm air down into the room. “By reversing your ceiling fan direction, coupled with keeping your thermostat at 68 degrees, you’ll find you can still be warm and comfortable during these colder days,” Harrell said.
Electric plug icon


Read Buttoning Up the Winter To-Do-List to learn how TVA is hardening its system and enhancing reliability and resiliency.

Share this story: