For the second consecutive day, sweltering temperatures, heavy air conditioning use and unusually high electricity demand have prompted O&R to declared a Summer Heat Alert.
Wednesday’s sizzling weather pushed the load on the O&R electric system to a peak high demand for the day of 1,445 megawatts at 5 p.m. O&R’s all-time electric peak demand record is 1,617 megawatts which was set on Aug. 2, 2006.
The heat has also prompted health officials to urger Rocklanders to avoid stressful activities, and “cooling centers” have been opened in all five Rockland County towns.
The Heat Alert means that O&R upgrades its readiness to make emergency repairs with higher than normal crew and management staff levels through the day and into the evening hours. Field crews are focusing primarily on emergency work, with scheduled work being performed as system conditions permit.
The Heat Alert also means that O&R engineers and system operators closely monitor the loads on distribution circuits, transformer banks and other key system components to detect any heat-related issues early so that any concerns are addressed quickly.
Spot checks will be made of potentially high-load circuits. Transformers will be pre-loaded on trucks at O&R operations centers to expedite their placement in the field if needed. O&R will institute electric load reduction measures at its own facilities.
O&R also urges the public to take steps to most efficiently use electricity, including turning down or turning off air conditioning in empty homes while you are away or at work. When using your room air conditioner, close doors to keep the cool air in and the hot air out. If you have central air conditioning, block the vents in unused or vacant rooms. (More steps below).
Here are some tips that will help you weather the heat during these steamy days.
* Set the thermostat of your central air conditioner at 78 degrees F or higher to achieve maximum savings on your cooling costs. Setting the room temperature on the air conditioner at 75 degrees costs about 15 percent more. A 72-degree setting costs about 30 percent more than the 78-degree setting.
* Install a timer or clock thermostat on your air conditioner so you can program it to operate and shut-off at pre-determined hours so you won’t be running the air conditioning all day in an empty house…
* If you have a room air-conditioning unit, close off the rooms not being used; if you have central air, block off the vents for un-used rooms.
* Plan cooking, baking or other household activities that produce heat and humidity for the cooler times of the day and night.
* Use a portable or ceiling fan to circulate the pre-cooled air in your air-conditioned home. A fan uses about 90 percent less energy than an air conditioner.
* In very humid weather, adjust your air conditioner’s fan to a low setting. It’ll take longer for the air conditioner to cool your home, but your unit will bring in steamy air at a slower rate and make you feel more comfortable.
* As the sun moves from east to west during the day, pull your curtains and shades on windows to block out the heat.
The refrigerator is one of the largest energy-using appliances in the typical home:
* Maintain a constant temperature in the refrigerator of between 36 and 38 degrees for maximum effectiveness. The freezer should be kept at 15 degrees.
* Cover liquid items. They give off humidity that forces the refrigerator to use more energy
* Place the most used items in one place so that the door will be open for a shorter period of time.