It could be time to unplug

Published 10:57 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Eastern North Carolina is known for some sweltering summers, not its brutal winters. It comes as no surprise when, in the dog days of summer, there might be a power outage because all those air conditioners running full speed ahead might overburden an electrical system. It happens.

The flip side of the issue is that it can happen in winter, as well. Already, Duke Energy has reported power outages due not to ice and downed power lines, but to extreme high demand on their system. A number of companies have sent out requests for help, asking customers to dial it back a notch on the thermostat and on the number of unnecessary devices plugged in.

While it may seem to make sense to crank up the heat to battle the below-freezing air outside and stay warm, overloading a circuit can bring that warmth to an abrupt end. It also may seem odd that even though an appliance is not technically turned on, it still may be using electricity.

Desktop computers, laptops, printers, televisions, DVD players, video game consoles, routers, modems, cable TV boxes, cordless phones, sound systems, coffeemakers, lamps, toasters, microwaves, phone chargers, electric toothbrushes — they can all add to the load.

They can all add to the cumulative usage that could put a system under pressure over the edge.

It just might be time to take a survey and unplug when appliances aren’t actually being used. It could be time to take the thermostat down a notch or two (68 degrees is recommended) in order to keep the electricity flowing, and keep the heat, and therefore the peace, in Beaufort County households.

It’s cold outside, but it could be colder.