By Pat McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator
Power outages like the one we experienced Saturday can cause a lot of inconveniences and problems, particularly for expensive electronic devices that lack adequate surge protection. Home theaters, TVs, computers and sound systems are costly to replace.
What’s the best way to protect these devices?
Here are five things to consider:
- Power strips aren’t enough: Power strips with multiple outlets are simply an extension of your wall outlet and may not provide adequate protection. High-quality surge protectors are a relatively inexpensive way to protect your electronics.
- Joules matter: Protectors with at least of 400 joules of capacity are recommended. Whenever surge protection is used, it consumes capacity. Indicator lights may show that some capacity remains, but they don’t reveal how much. Think of a battery that lacks the power to start your car but will play the radio.
- Surge protectors wear out: The capacity of surge protectors degrades over time. They typically have a light that signals when they’re on and working, but the light doesn’t indicate the unit’s remaining useful life. How long they last depends on how much they’re needed.
- More outlets: Always get more surge protection outlets than you need.
- What’s new?: Thewirecuttercom’s pick as the best surge protector is the Tripp Lite TLP1008TEL, which stops passing power when it’s no longer effective at blocking surges.
When you consider the high price of your electronic devices, making sure you meet your surge protection needs is an easy choice to make.
Patrick McIntyre is energy coordinator for College Station Utilities and is responsible for the energy conservation and key accounts programs. Pat joined CSU as a key accounts representative in 2009. He previously worked for 17 years in the manufacturing sector and eight years as a consultant with the Texas Engineering Extension Service. Pat graduated from Texas A&M in 1982 with B.S. in Industrial Distribution and has lived in the area since 1984.
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College Station Utilities customers are urged to conserve electricity early Monday morning because of tight conditions in the ERCOT grid. CSU customers are asked to:
- Keep your thermostat as low as is comfortable, preferably no higher than 68 degrees.
- Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances.
- Avoid running large appliances such as washers, dryers and electric ovens during peak energy demand hours (6-9 a.m. and 4-8 p.m.).
- Close shades and blinds at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows.
- Businesses should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible.
- Large consumers of electricity should consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes.
Thanks in advance for lowering your electricity demand!
Utilities Administration Manager | College Station Utilities
Since College Station Utilities implemented its new outage hotline in March, our customers have given us many ideas to improve the system. As a result, we’ve continually made adjustments, including changes to the recording you hear when you dial-in an outage.
In recent outages, the hotline number and our Outage Management System have proven to be valuable tools, and the outage map has been especially useful in providing our customers with real-time information.
The storm on Oct. 13 was the most severe we’ve seen in a long time. From 3 a.m. to midnight, we received more than 2,000 calls. Unfortunately, almost half of those calls were not identified by the system because callers didn’t enter their account number, were calling from a phone the system couldn’t recognize, or went straight to leaving a message.
The system automatically grouped calls and predicted outage sizes and locations for the calls that went directly into the system. The other calls had to be handled manually, which took time away from tending to the outage and directing crews.
Under our old system — which had only 14 lines – we would have had a lot of busy signals and dropped calls. We certainly wouldn’t have responded as effectively as we did on Oct. 13. We are constantly striving to improve the system, and the key is to encourage you to use your account number when reporting an outage.
Unfortunately, power and water outages happen. When they do, it’s important for College Station Utilities customers to let us know promptly. If you simply assume your neighbor has already reported it, service restoration may be delayed. Your timely report also helps us determine the size of the outage.
Of course, you may be one of the many customers who have tried to call our emergency number but received nothing but a busy signal — if you weren’t dropped completely. When your lights are out, it can be a highly frustrating experience. Thankfully, those days will soon be history.