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Weather reports on French television now include electricity forecasts

French households rely heavily on electricity for heating, which can seriously strain the power grid in winter months. If the temperature drops by one degree Celsius, electricity demand increases by 2,400 megawatts — the equivalent of Marseille and Lyon's combined consumption.

Aiming to involve citizens in keeping the grid up and running, the country's main television channels now include energy forecasts as part of their daily weather reports. The data is produced by Ecowatt, which uses traffic light colors to indicate the current state of the grid: green means 'normal' and no problems expected, orange 'strained' and red 'very strained,' with a risk of power cuts.

EcoWatt bases its four-day forecasts on predicted temperatures, technical issues, the amount of wind and sun available for renewables, and levels of electricity imports.

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Ecowatt was already sending peak usage alerts to around 100,000 subscribers, but including energy forecasts as part of televised weather reports obviously reaches a far larger audience. It also normalizes information that people might otherwise not consider.

While the forecasts were primarily initiated to help avoid blackouts, an added benefit lies in developing the same everyday awareness about energy use that people already have about the weather. Rain tomorrow? Bring an umbrella; reschedule a picnic. Orange EcoWatt symbol? Turn down the heating; postpone a laundry load or two.

It's not up to individuals to solve the climate crisis, but clear-cut data delivered through every possible channel helps consumers make informed decisions and adjust their behavior accordingly.