How to save power during a Flex Alert

California’s muggy summer days are associated with an increased risk of power outages and wildfires. But there is one way you can help: by reducing power consumption during a flex alert.

A Flex Alert is a notification from the independent California system operator that oversees our state’s electrical grid. Basically, it’s a request for people to unplug appliances, turn up the thermostat a few degrees, and not leave large appliances running until power demands are lower later in the evening. Flex Alerts are typically set from late afternoon to evening when people are returning from school and work and everyone is turning on the air conditioning.

If energy use doesn’t fall enough, the ISO can order utilities to rotate power outages to prevent a grid collapse.

What should I do during a Flex alarm to save power?

Here are some things you can do:

  • Set your air conditioner to 78 degrees or higher.
  • Turn off unnecessary lights.
  • Disconnect electrical devices that you are not using.
  • Close blinds and curtains to keep rooms cooler.
  • Use fans instead of running the air conditioner.
  • Avoid using large appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and dryers.
  • Wait until the Flex Alert ends to charge your electric car.
  • If your water heater is electric, hold off on that hot shower.
  • Instead of watching TV or playing Madden, break up a board game, solve a jigsaw puzzle, or read a book.

If you know a Flex Alert is scheduled later in the day, remember to charge your devices and crank up the air conditioning beforehand. Then unplug your stuff and turn the thermostat up to 78 degrees or higher as soon as the alarm starts.

“During these flex alerts, these peak times, you want to conserve energy,” Diane Castro, a spokeswoman for Southern California Edison, said in a 2021 interview with The Times.

Fulfilling a Flex Alert is entirely voluntary. No one will knock on your door when you use your air conditioner to turn your living room into a meat closet. But a congested grid can lead to power outages, wildfires, and other bad things that we generally want to avoid, so it’s in your best interest to do your part.

If your location is at risk of a power outage, here’s what to do before, during, and after the power outage. And if wildfire is near and you may need to evacuate, we have advice on what to take and what to leave behind. If you want to prepare your home for when—not when—California gets another big quake, sign up for our Unshaken newsletter series.

About the Times Utility Journalism Team

This article is from the Times’ Utility Journalism team. Our mission is to be essential to the lives of people in Southern California by publishing information that solves problems, answers questions, and aids in decision making. We serve audiences in and around Los Angeles—including current Times subscribers and diverse communities whose needs have not been met by our coverage in the past.

How can we be useful to you and your community? Email Utility (at) or one of our journalists: Matt Ballinger, Jon Healey, Ada Tseng, Jessica Roy and Karen Garcia. How to save power during a Flex Alert

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