Have you ever caught yourself wondering about how to survive when the grid goes down? We’re all scared of the zombie apocalypse, or a hostile alien invasion, but what about the power outages that are happening more regularly than we’d like to admit. And when you lose power, it certainly feels like the end of the world. If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that extreme weather conditions tend to bring on even more extreme repercussions. So, whether it’s scorching temperatures in California that lead to power outages, or a winter vortex in Texas that brings on an unprecedented blackout in the Lone Star State, you want to be prepared.
An electrical apocalypse
Last year, there was an unprecedented freeze in Texas. For the rest of the US, it was the shot heard ‘round the world. It rattled many into thinking about how to survive when the grid goes down. The reality of the situation in Texas was that extreme temperatures pushed grid power to full capacity, and it fell short, to say the least.
There’s no wonder many homeowners realized that the current way we generate energy is just old. The power grid is overworked, the cost of electricity is continuously rising for consumers, and don’t even talk about the pollution. If you’re looking into how to survive when the grid is down that means you’re uncertain about its reliability. And there’s good cause for it. Here’s a look at why the grid’s days could be numbered.
An outdated and overworked infrastructure
In 2021, the US energy infrastructure received a C- from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) because of its inability to meet the demands of American users. They report that about 70% of the transmission and distribution lines (about 600,000 miles) are over 25 years old. The life expectancy is 50 years. The electrical grids are constantly balancing the supply and demand for energy. In 2020, American electrical consumption reached about 3.8 trillion kilowatt hours (kWh). That powers everything from industrial power plants to household appliances. According to Popular Science, “The US has more power outages than any other developed country.” Our power structure struggles to handle the massive amount of power consumption its population demands from it.
Increased pollution and climate change
A changing climate might bring on the electricity endgame. If you’re wondering how to survive when the grid goes down, you might want to consider the impact of pollution. In 2021, transportation accounted for the most pollution, but electricity generation caps at 23%, a close second.
Global warming ignites disastrous weather events and even superstorms. These climate disasters have been worsening in intensity and frequency every year, impacting the grid distribution systems’ ability to perform. And it doesn’t have to be this way. There are endless possibilities when renewables are used to generate electricity. For example, there are a host of environmental benefits when more homeowners use solar energy. Until then, the reliability of a grid run on non-renewables is up for question.
Higher and higher costs for electricity
For homeowners, the cost of their electricity lies in their utility company’s hands. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts the cost of residential electricity in 2022 to be an “average 14.2 cents/kWh”, almost 4% higher than it was in 2021. These predictions don’t account for unexpected natural disasters or even the fluctuating rates during peak times of popular energy usage. Since the demand for power isn’t declining anytime soon, neither will the cost to produce it. That’s why it’s even more important for homeowners to know where they’re getting their power from. If you know the source, you can anticipate electricity cost and usage.
While there are many tips and tricks to get you through a blackout, the best way to navigate uncertainty is to armor up with knowledge. Keep on reading for all you need to know about the US power grid and learn how to survive when the grid goes down.
Or, get in touch with a Solar Energy Specialist. Find out how solar panels could shed some light on your uncertainty.
What is a power grid?
A power grid is a vast web of interconnected power lines, power plants, and electrical substations. The US power grid transmits electricity to millions. If you’re a homeowner, it makes sense if your main concern is the rise and fall of your electricity bill. But in recent years, we’ve all learned that the weather can be dangerous to our power infrastructure. It’s understandable if people have wavering trust in the reliability of the power grid, but it’s also important to understand where your power is coming from.
How does the power grid work?
The US power grid works through generation, conversion, and distribution. Let’s break this down further.
Step 1: Generation
This is the stage where energy is produced. Energy can be extracted from a wide range of sources, including renewable (wind, solar, geothermal, you name it) to non-renewable (coal, oil, natural gas, and fossil fuels). In fact, fossil fuel power plants account for more than 60% of the electricity generation in the US, while nuclear power plants account for nearly 20%. These non-renewable energy sources dominate most of the energy generation in the U.S.
Step 2: Conversion + Transmission
In this stage, energy is converted into high voltage electrical current that enables it to be transmitted. Transmission occurs through the use of power lines, which first went online in 1889 with a life expectancy of about 50 years. This antiquated system doesn’t have to impact your power production; there are alternatives available.
Step 3: Distribution
The aforementioned high voltage power lines deliver electricity to homes and businesses across the United States. Transformers intersect the high voltage power and convert it back to a voltage that houses can use.
How do I find out where my power comes from?
Here are a few ways you can find out where your energy comes from:
- Check with your utility company. Often, electrical companies will make this information public knowledge.
- Figure out if you’re in a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) or an Independent System Operator by looking at the colorful regions of this map.
The transmission grid system of North America is actually composed of five different synchronous grids that handle the power load for the whole country. The Eastern and Western Interconnections make up the largest portion of the US electrical grids. But some states, like Texas, are all on their own. Finding out where your power is coming from could be as simple as knowing what state you live in.
Here’s how to survive when the grid goes down
If you want to know how to survive when the grid goes down, you’ve got to armor yourself with knowledge! Understanding how the grid works, having a working awareness of the issues with current grid power generation, and learning the impact utilizing non-renewables has on the greater environment are great steps towards preparedness. But it won’t stop the blackouts. There’s still more you can do.
According to the ASCE, a funding gap of nearly $200 billion could improve grid reliability and security. You could wait for that, but if you really want to know how to survive when the grid goes down, try solar. When disaster is headed your way, solar panels and a solar battery backup might be the framework your family can depend on.
Get the blackout dream team: solar panels and solar batteries
If you’re looking for a way to fortify your home from blackouts, it’s time to invest in a solar battery to work in conjunction with your solar panel system. This powerful combination will create a reliable and outage-resistant solar system. A high-powered solar battery, like the resilient Enphase IQ, brings power to you when you need it the most. This smart technology does its part to improve energy conservation. Its inclusion in your home energy infrastructure can minimize the strain placed on the grid and lower consumer utility bills.
Whether we’re overrun by zombies or not, you don’t want to have to worry about how to survive when the grid goes down. Up your chances of keeping the lights on during an outage. A solar system with a reliable energy storage system can offer power when you need it the most.