Power Use Drops During Super Bowl

"Is there a drop in demand for electricity when the Super Bowl kicks off, as people stop what they’re doing and gather around the TV? Ted Borer, [Princeton] University’s energy plant manager, was curious. 'I’d always heard of this, as an urban legend,' Borer says, “and I thought, ‘I have the tools to confirm this.’

"On Feb. 5, 2006, when the Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers faced off in Super Bowl XL, Borer tracked the power data from the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland grid during the game along with the power demand on Princeton’s campus. The results, seen on the graph below, are striking: Within one minute of the game’s start, power use on campus dropped 6 percent. 'We rarely see that dramatic a change,' Borer says.

"Power use spiked during commercial breaks, as people reheated their nachos, opened the refrigerator to grab another drink, or flushed the toilet (triggering utility company pumps). While the pattern is similar for both the campus and the wider grid, Princeton’s power use showed two notable differences from the community at large. Students seemed more interested in the halftime show (in 2006, the Rolling Stones performed), and after the game, when the rest of the region turned off the lights and headed to bed, power use on campus began to climb. Borer suspects that the postgame jump comes from students returning to their rooms and turning on their computers for a little late-night studying."

from the PAW The Weekly Blog.