Evergy wants to avoid cold weather power outages — here’s what it’s asking KC-area customers to do

Evergy thermostats

Evergy is urging Kansas City metro customers to turn down thermostats to 68 degrees, limit usage of large appliances and seal windows in order to conserve energy for the region's power grids, which are under higher-than-average strain due to sub-zero temperatures. Photo credit Kyle Palmer.

With dangerously cold, sub-zero temperatures forecast for the first half of this week, Evergy (formerly KCP&L) is asking customers to conserve electricity use as much as possible to avoid mass blackouts.

That includes turning down thermostats and limiting use of appliances, like washers and dryers.

In a release, Evergy is asking customers to conserve electricity use through Wednesday, Feb. 17.

The Southwest Power Pool, which coordinates power supply for 17 states in the central U.S., noted this week’s weather is some of the region’s coldest in decades, which is creating higher demand for electricity.

The added demand could stress the region’s power grid, creating an elevated potential for electricity shortages.

Simultaneously, the cold weather is driving high demand for natural gas used to heat homes and businesses, straining the gas supply available to generate electricity. Icy conditions have also made availability of wind generation uncertain.

“Our Evergy employees are working around the clock to manage our power plants and power lines,” said Kevin Bryant, Evergy’s chief operating officer, in a statement. “But even with reliable operations, the extreme cold is driving high demand for electricity and straining natural gas supplies, requiring all the utilities in the region to ask for customers’ help in conserving energy until the temperatures warm up later this week.

“Everybody doing their part to save electricity the next few days will help us make sure the power supply continues to best serve the region’s needs.”

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued a State of Disaster Emergency due to expected stress on the state’s utilities.

How to conserve electricity use

Evergy is asking customers to take these steps through at least Wednesday in order to conserve energy and avoid blackouts:

  • Turn thermostats a little cooler (to 65-68 degrees).
  • Avoid the use of electric space heaters.
  • Close blinds and shades to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows.
  • Change or clean filters on furnaces.
  • Turn off unnecessary lights and appliances.
  • When possible, use large appliances (clothes washers, dryers and dishwashers) between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Reduce air leaks that let cold air in by sealing around doors and windows with weatherstripping or caulk and inserting foam gaskets on electrical switches and outlets.
  • Businesses should reduce 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 processes.

WaterOne urges customers to trickle water

Meanwhile, WaterOne is urging all customers to allow water to trickle from faucets overnight at homes and businesses.

Temperatures of 23 degrees and below can cause unprotected internal plumbing to freeze, preventing water from coming out of the tap.

The risk is especially higher for older homes due to uninsulated plumbing, but pipes can freeze in newer homes as well.

WaterOne offers these tips to thaw frozen pipes

Anyone with already frozen pipes can try safely thawing the pipe as soon as possible or call a plumber for help. Meanwhile, WaterOne customers wanting to thaw frozen pipes should also try these tips:

  • To attempt to safely thaw the pipe yourself, first turn off the main water shut-off valve coming into the home or business. In most homes, it is located in the basement or lowest level on a foundation wall facing the front of the property. Turning off the valve prevents spraying water if your internal pipe should burst.
  • Next, slowly apply heat, starting close to the faucet end of the pipe, with the faucet open. Work towards the coldest section — slower is better. A hair dryer trained at the frozen area of the pipe is an effective tool. A blow torch is not. To avoid risk of electrocution, DO NOT use electrical appliances while standing in water.

Follow these tips to prevent frozen pipes

  • Keep cabinet doors open underneath sinks to allow warmer household air to circulate.
  • Let a faucet trickle, preferably the farthest faucet away from where water enters the home or business.
  • Call WaterOne at (913) 895-1800 to request a water meter check. There may be a delay due to a higher volume of requests.