Summer heat skyrocketing power demand and booming air conditioning business

PHOTO: Samantha Zarek

TRI-CITIES, TN - The summer heat is pushing local power demand to its highest peak in five years. Local air conditioning services are also seeing a boom in business. Hot summer temperatures call for more air conditioning to keep cool. The Tennessee Valley Authority and a local air conditioning service have some tips for beating the heat.

Heat pump repairs for a central air conditioning system can be expensive, and a heat wave will take its toll.

"Any mechanical equipment as they start running more and more, they're prone to failure," says president of Kingsport Heating and Air Conditioning, Rick Millsap.

A compressor drives the entire system, and excessive wear could cause problems event months from now.

"Could cause a failure even on up in the Fall that was actually, a lot of the wear happened back in those summer months," Millsap says.

He compares an air conditioning system to a car; if you don't keep it up with maintenance, it will fail.

"They'll run hot, they'll fail when it gets hot," he says.

The most frequent service calls in our area have to do with duct sweating, condensation leaks, and motor failure.

"Do a maintenance agreement on it-- a clean up of your coils, clean your drain lines, check your refrigerant pre-season in the spring," Millsap says. In addition to preventative maintenance, setting your home temperature to a moderate level between 75 and 78 degrees helps your unit function properly. The Tennessee Valley Authority is expecting peak demand through the weekend and will tap all its power resources.

"We have capacity to serve our customers on days like today when we need a lot of power and it also allows us to use the lowest cost fuels that are available...we're going to look to make all of our resources available to meet the power needs," says Johnson City area customer service manager, Chris Quillen.

TVA officials say small steps can save your energy use in a big way. This includes running fans, closing curtains, and running appliances early morning or after dark. Preventative maintenance and proper in-home temperatures are key to making sure you stay cool while also saving your money.

TVA has a guide on summer energy tips: