Beat the Heat Without Breaking the Bank

Seattle City Light has sufficient electricity to help people stay cool in the hot weather, but there are ways you can beat the heat without driving up your electricity bill.

Photo of hot sunset.Seattle City Light has sufficient electricity to help people stay cool in the hot weather, but there are ways you can beat the heat without driving up your electricity bill.  Customers also should be aware that extra demand for electricity puts stress on the distribution system, which can lead to outages, especially with older, underground power lines.

Keeping your windows and blinds closed during the day is one of the best ways to keep your house cool without running up your electric bill. This will significantly reduce the heat that enters your home and adding an external window shade is even more effective. Better yet, good insulation not only keeps your house cool in the summer but warm in the winter.

Other money-saving tips include:

  • Give appliances a break. Limit the use of ranges and stoves, dishwashers, dryers, washing machines and other heat-producing equipment especially during mid-day.
  • Prepare cool meals, such as salads and sandwiches. If you must cook a hot meal, wait until later in the evening when it’s cooler or use your barbecue outdoors.
  • Use a ceiling fan. A typical fan consumes 98 percent less electricity than most central air conditioners use.
  • Adjust ceiling fans to turn counter-clockwise, which will push down warm air trapped near the ceiling.
  • If you have central air conditioning: Cool only the rooms you use but don’t close all vents. Closing too many actually reduces operating efficiency.
  • Turn off the air conditioner when you leave the house for several hours.
  • An air conditioner thermostat is not a throttle, so don’t switch your air conditioner to a colder setting when you turn it on. It won’t cool the room any faster but it will waste energy when you forget to turn it up again. Keep it set at 80 degrees.
  • Install a timer on your room air conditioner, or use a programmable thermostat on your central air conditioner.
  • Keep your air conditioner shaded to improve its efficiency.

For more ways to conserve energy, please go to City Light’s Energy Solutions page.

High temperatures can add strain to City Light’s electrical equipment as people turn on air conditioning and refrigerators work harder to keep food cool.

Underground cables are more susceptible to the stress caused by the increased flow of electricity.  Underground power lines are insulated and designed to float in water that fills the concrete vaults, but over time the insulation becomes brittle. If the insulation on an underground cable cracks, any water in the vault will cause a short.

City Light has been working to extend the life of underground cables and improve reliability by injecting some older lines with silicone and replacing others.

If your power does go out, first check your main switch for a blown fuse or an open breaker. If that is not the problem, report the outage by calling either our Outage Hotline (recorded message) at (206) 684-7400 or Customer Service at (206) 684-3000.

Seattle City Light urges its customers to be prepared for outages at any time of the year.

  • Customers relying on electric life-support machines should let City Light know about their needs. Please call (206) 684-3000 and let us know.
  • Have an emergency kit ready.
  • In most cases, food should be safe if refrigerators and freezers are kept shut when the power is out. If the power is out for longer than 10 hours, perishables should be discarded. When it doubt, throw it out.

You can get even more tips for what to do when the power goes out on our website and check the system status for your address via our outage map.