February 24, 2021
Experts say setting your thermostat to 68 degrees when you’re home is the ideal balance of comfort and energy efficiency. (Photo by Jennifer Davis Rash)
As temperatures dropped into the teens last week, I walked over to the thermostat and bumped it up from 68 to 72 without a second thought.
I wanted to take it up to 74, maybe even 76, to ensure our rooms were cozy and warm in case the power went out with the coming snow and ice. But I stopped at 72.
A news report caught my attention a few minutes prior to adjusting the temperature.
It explained how important it was for all members of a community to conserve energy while heating our homes, so we didn’t overload the system.
Texas quickly became an unfortunate example of what happens when an energy grid is overwhelmed.
Discussions continue about how such an energy disaster happened in the Lonestar state.
I had never really thought too much about how an area’s provider of heat and air could actually go down from too much use, but it makes sense.
Rolling blackouts are a common method used to prevent a complete shutdown, and while effective, they do bring their own level of difficulty.
A friend in Mississippi shared how the same night I heard that news report, her community received an announcement alerting everyone a rolling blackout was coming.
“Once they announced it, everyone started conserving energy like crazy, and they ended up not having to do it. I was so relieved,” my friend noted.
I was relieved for my friend as well, and I couldn’t help but visualize the instant bond formed between all the neighbors as they worked together to keep the lights and heat on.
Everyone sacrificed a little to help the greater good.
They all kept power throughout the week of bitter cold even though the temperature in individual homes might have been lower than they liked or the laundry was piling up.
And it all worked because officials knew the limits of their system and communicated clearly with the people involved in advance.
Everyone understood what had happened and knew what to do to prevent a full breakdown of the system.
The people responded quickly and selflessly.
They worked together to solve the problem rather than ignore the situation and continue cranking the heat up in their individual homes because that’s what they preferred.
While everyone involved definitely won by working together — no one had to lose power for any amount of time — I’m confident neighbors also thought of other neighbors who might suffer more with a loss of power.
One neighbor might use medical equipment that requires electricity, and he has no generator.
Another neighbor might not have any other source of heat without electricity, and she lives alone with no close family or friends nearby.
The Mississippi community’s effort brought to mind another friend who contacted her neighbors last March during the infamous toilet paper shortage in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She happened to be well stocked with all the household products that had almost instantly become scarce, and was willing to share.
Thinking about others and contributing to an effort to lend a hand to make a positive difference always feeds our soul, even for the most self-absorbed among us.
Oh, and it happens to be biblical too — love God, love others.
Those are the two greatest commandments, according to Jesus, and it really does simplify every aspect of life if we make that our focus.