Mother Nature is being blamed for shutting off the power to some Richland residents Friday morning.
The extreme cold -- it was 13 degrees at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco at 6:30 a.m. -- combined with residents waking up and increasing the power use by turning on lights and equipment, led to an overload of the power system, Richland officials said.
The overload caused about 2,400 homes and businesses in the northern part of central Richland to lose power.
Crews methodically redistributed the electrical load to other transformers and half the customers had power back on by 7:30 a.m., officials said. Power was completely restored by 10:30 a.m.
Frigid temperatures are expected to stick around the Tri-Cities all weekend, with today's high predicted to reach just above freezing at 34 degrees and with an overnight low near 23.
A chance of snow is in the forecast beginning at 4 a.m. today and continuing through Monday night, the National Weather Service said.
Sunday and Monday should see highs in the mid- to upper-40s with a low of 34.
Richland city officials said residents can help conserve energy during cold snaps by following some simple tips:
w Enter and exit homes quickly. Every time an exterior door opens, a large amount of heated or cooled air escapes and outdoor air replaces it.
w Use sweaters and blankets if it feels chilly.
w For homes with high ceilings, circulate heated air by using your furnace blower or using a ceiling or portable fan running at low speed. Circulating air can help evenly distribute warm air and reduce the desire to turn the heat up or cooling down. Other advantages of running a blower fan are to improve air filtration; a constantly running blower also will create a slight pressure inside your home which can help reduce drafts and dust from entering your home.
w Keep drapes and blinds closed at night. Drapes add a very small extra layer of insulation to your windows. Turn louvers down toward the ground to help divert heat back into the room instead of trapping it between the blinds and the window.
w Keep heating/cooling registers and grilles open and unobstructed by furniture.
w Close off unoccupied rooms and shut their heat or air conditioning vents. This is not recommended for homes that use heat pumps.
w Use kitchen, bath and other ventilation fans sparingly. Turn them off just as soon as they have done their job.
w Lower your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during the day and no lower than 55 degrees at night. You can save about 3 percent on your heating energy use for each degree you reduce the average temperature in your home. You can save about 1 percent on your heating energy use for every degree you reduce your temperature at night.
w Keep windows and doors tightly closed.
w Don't let cold air seep into your home through the attic or under-floor access door. Check the door to make sure it is well insulated and weather-stripped.
w Keep furniture and draperies clear of baseboard and wall-mounted heaters for safety. Carefully monitor and frequently adjust humidifier settings as the outdoor temperature changes.