Can Heat Cause the Power to Go Out?

There are several reasons why a home or community may have a power outage. Summertime power demand is higher in Arizona, and that’s one reason why heat can cause the power to go out. In the Phoenix area, 99% of the power is generated from six sources:

  1. Natural gas
  2. Nuclear power
  3. Coal
  4. Solar
  5. Hydroelectric
  6. Wind

…and Arizona’s Palo Verde nuclear station is the largest net generator of electricity. Still, that’s a limited number of sources powering over a million homes in Greater Phoenix. Power lines deliver energy, but they’re just that: lines; wires. Heat adds to their stress.

Some of the reasons why heat causes the power to go out are:

  • Electrical power lines become overloaded. Heavier usage from higher temperatures can cause the power lines themselves to heat up and then expand or sag. If they droop into trees or other obstacles, it trips the circuit.
  • Heat lightning strikes can cause a power outage. But “heat lightning” isn’t caused by heat. It’s lightning that occurs about 100 miles away. You can see the lightning but don’t hear thunder because it’s so far. “Heat lightning” is safe (and for many, fun) to watch, but when you hear thunder, get indoors.
  • Sustained demand over longer periods of time may not permit transformers to properly cool. They can overheat and damage other equipment.
  • Electrical equipment overloads occur when temperatures soar because more people stay indoors.
  • Underground lines expand because of the heat. The insulation becomes stressed and trips circuitry, causing a power outage.

Based on the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) 2023 summer forecast, Arizona may see higher-than-usual temperatures causing grid fails and blackouts this summer. In fact, two-thirds of the USA are at elevated risk of blackouts due to widespread heat events and the resulting increase in peak demand.

Ways to Manage Power Outages

Power outage preparedness can include having extra bottled water on-hand as well as a hand-operated can opener and emergency supplies. A power outage in South-Central Arizona is inconvenient and can be uncomfortable. But if you have infants, elderly, or health-challenged loved ones, a power outage can be dangerous.

If someone in your home depends on electric-powered, life-sustaining equipment or if the heat itself is life-threatening, don’t delay seeking a safer, more comfortable place. (Now would be a good time to invest in a whole-house emergency backup generator for emergency protection.)

Here are some tips to help with other power outage concerns:

  • Electronics – To reduce the risk of data loss, back up your files. During storms and power outages, unplug electronics. You can install individual surge protector power strips but consider whole-house surge protection.
  • Food – A full refrigerator and freezer can safely store food longer than if half-empty. An unopened, full freezer can preserve provisions for as long as 2 days, but if it’s half-full, only one day. An unopened fridge can go about 4 hours without power.
  • Indoors – Don’t let the outside in. Open and shut doors quickly and keep windows closed. Block sunlight by shutting curtains and lowering blinds.
  • Personal comfort – Use cold tap water for a shower or bath, then air dry yourself and your hair.

Another way to reduce the risks of power outages is to do your part in reducing energy consumption. Avoid preheating your oven when cooking by simply adding a few minutes to your baking time. And this summer, consider adjusting your thermostat up a few notches during the day. You can save almost 3% by raising the thermostat one degree.

You can also reduce energy consumption by lowering your water heater temperature. Each 10-degree reduction can save 3%-5% in water-heating energy costs.

Contact TIO Electric of Greater Phoenix

Safety should be without compromise. If you have questions about power outages and how backup generators can keep your home and family safe and comfortable, contact Turn It On Electric.

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