How Can I Prepare for Rolling Blackouts?

By Lyle Weischwill | Jul. 19, 2022 6:56 am PST

Rolling blackouts occur when electrical grid operators temporarily cut power to some areas when power demand exceeds electrical supply due to extreme weather conditions or other factors.

These rolling blackouts are inevitable in some regions of the country that are prone to experience extremely hot weather because air conditioning systems use a large percentage of power in residential communities. Texas residents sometimes face rolling blackouts in the hottest parts of summer when temperatures soar over 100 degrees.

Rolling blackouts can also happen in extremely cold weather. A winter storm in February of 2021 caused massive rolling blackouts in Texas. Many residents were without power for days during that event.

Of course, you don’t have to live in Texas to experience rolling blackouts. Extreme weather or other factors can cause blackouts in any area of the country.

Being prepared for an electrical blackout is a good idea for everyone.

What Supplies do I Need to Survive a Blackout?

Having supplies ready for an electrical blackout is essential for your well-being. Even if you have a whole-house back-up generator, you’ll still need to have some essential items stored away to deal with a power outage in your area because local stores may be without power even though you still have electricity.

Store these essential items to be ready for a power outage:

  • Bottled water. Stores often run out of bottled water or stores may not be open to sell water during power outages. In some situations, the municipal water supply may become contaminated during blackouts. If you get your water from a well on your property, the electric pump won’t be able to pump water into the storage tank during a power outage.
  • Non-perishable foods. Store canned goods and packaged foods with long shelf lives for use during a power blackout. Check the expiration dates of the food every few years if you don’t wind up using them for a long time.
  • Flash lights and batteries. A source of lighting is always a good thing to have during a power outage. You won’t have to struggle in the dark looking for flash lights if you have them stored in a designated place.
  • Portable generator. Having a portable generator during a power outage can be a lifesaver. Although a portable generator can’t power everything in your home, it can enable you to run some essential items such as fans, small heaters and a refrigerator or freezer. A portable generator may also be able to power a small window air conditioner if needed.
  • Surge protectors. Appliances with electronic control boards, TV’s, computers and other electronic devices should all be protected with surge protectors. During electrical blackouts, power surges can travel through electrical supply lines and cause damage to electronics. A surge protector prevents the damaging electrical surge from reaching the control board in appliances and electronics. For best protection against electronics damage during a rolling blackout, consider installing a whole house surge protector and standby backup generator. Schedule a free consultation with our Sears Home Services Energy Experts to discuss your options for protecting your home with a whole-house generator.

If your appliances are damaged by a power surge caused by a blackout, schedule a Sears Technician to visit your home and repair the damage.

How Can I Help Prevent Rolling Blackouts?

You can do your part to conserve electricity during vulnerable times when the electrical grid can be overloaded by taking these steps:

  1. Keep your thermostat set at a reasonable temperature. Raise the thermostat setting in the summer if possible so your air conditioner doesn’t run as often. If you have a heat pump, lower the thermostat setting so the heat pump doesn’t run as frequently. The air conditioner or heat pump use the most electricity in your home so conserving on energy use through adjusting the thermostat setting will have a significant impact on helping to reduce the strain on the electrical grid during severe hot or cold weather.
  2. If you have an electric clothes dryer, run it during hours when you anticipate that lower demand on the electrical grid—in the evening during summer and during the day during winter. Do the same for other energy hogs such as the stove or oven. Any energy that you can conserve during peak consumption hours for the grid will help prevent rolling blackouts.
  3. Although appliances and electronic devices don’t use a lot of standby power, unplugging appliances when they’re not in use can collectively help reduce strain on the electrical grid when it’s stressed by high demand.
  4. As much as possible, keep entry doors for your home closed to prevent climate-controlled air from escaping your home. This will help the heater or air conditioner from having to run as often during cold or hot weather.
  5. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors shut as much as possible to minimize the energy used by those appliances.
  6. Check window and door seals for cracks or damage. Replace any damaged or worn seals to prevent climate-controlled air from escaping your home. Windows eventually wear out and need replacing. Sears Home Services can help you select new, energy-efficient windows that can help you save money on your energy bills as well as help reduce demand on the electrical grid during extreme weather events. Schedule a free consultation with a Sears Home Improvement Specialist to discuss your window replacement options when you need new windows.

When an electric blackout occurs, you can also help protect the electrical grid from overload by shutting off your air conditioner or heater during the blackout so a huge spike in demand doesn’t immediately happen when power is restored.

Following these strategies to minimize the impact of rolling blackouts will help everyone in your community. Together we can all do our part to help our families and neighbors more easily make it through electrical blackouts.

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