December 22, 2004
RICHMOND, Va. -- Dominion, one of the nation's largest energy companies, met an unofficial record winter one-hour peak demand from its Virginia and North Carolina electricity customers Monday.
Heating systems kicked into high gear Sunday and Monday as temperatures plummeted into the teens across Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. Customers demanded an estimated 16,542 megawatts of electricity from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday, easily surpassing the old mark of 16,133 megawatts set Jan. 23, 2003. Further tabulations may adjust the final amount of megawatts generated and consumed by customers.
The Dominion all-time record peak demand is 17,084 megawatts set July 29, 2002.
Dominion encourages its customers to use smart energy practices to keep their homes warm and heating systems working at peak efficiencies. Heating costs can account for 25 percent to 50 percent of a home’s total energy expense, so efficiency experts offer these tips to control heating costs:
- Have a qualified heating contractor inspect and service your system to ensure it is safe and working at peak efficiency.
- If you have a forced-air heating system, clean or replace the filter monthly and keep heat vents open and unobstructed by furniture.
- Make sure that all ductwork is sealed at joints and intersections with duct sealer or silicone caulk. Otherwise, supply ductwork can leak heated air into the attic or crawl space, and outside air can be drawn into the return ductwork, increasing costs and reducing comfort dramatically.
- Set the thermostat at 68 degrees or the lowest temperature you find comfortable. For every degree you lower the setting, you can see a difference of up to 3 percent in energy costs. Setting it lower at night will produce savings with gas and oil systems, but is not recommended for heat pump systems unless you have a programmable thermostat specifically designed for that system.
- If you have a gas or oil furnace, consider adding a high-efficiency heat pump. It could save you up to 60 percent on heating costs and keep you cool next summer.
- Trim or remove grass, weeds, leaves and other obstacles from around the outdoor unit of your heating or cooling system. When airflow is blocked, it puts a strain on the system and lowers efficiency.
To get the best value for the energy dollar, it is important for consumers to know where energy is used in their houses. Dominion invites customers to visit the company’s Internet site at http://www.dom.com/customer/efficiency/res/index.jsp for energy-saving information or to enroll in its Energy Audit Assistance Program.
The U.S. Department of Energy Web site also has information on winterizing your house and other ways to make your home energy-smart. For more information, visit the DOE on the Internet at http://www.eere.energy.gov/buildings/info/homes.
The DOE and the Environmental Protection Agency sponsor Home Energy Saver, a Web-based do-it-yourself energy audit tool at http://hes.lbl.gov/.
Dominion also asks that you contribute to EnergyShare to assist those in need. EnergyShare helps pay home heating bills for qualified individuals living within the company's service area. The program pays for any heating source: oil, gas, kerosene, wood, and electricity. It is a program of last resort for the elderly, the ill and for all who face financial hardships from unemployment or family crisis. Payments go directly to energy vendors on behalf of those helped, and every dollar donated goes to benefit those in need.
Dominion Virginia Power customers can contribute to EnergyShare by adding an extra $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $25 or $35 to monthly bills. The company's computers automatically recognize these exact amounts as contributions to EnergyShare. An envelope also will be inserted in customers' bills in February soliciting contributions. Donations may be mailed to EnergyShare, P.O. Box 12083, Richmond, Va. 23241-0083.
Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers of energy, with an energy portfolio of about 25,500 megawatts of generation. Dominion also serves retail energy customers in eight states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's Web site at www.dom.com.
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Dominion Media Relations, 804-771-6115