Keep hydrated, cool

Published 9:34 am Wednesday, July 4, 2012

With temperatures high and expected to stay there for a few days, everyone needs to give thought to their personal safety, drinking plenty of water, avoiding exertion during the hottest part of the day and generally staying cool. There’s another responsibility as well, however: Give at least some thought to how much demand we’re each placing on the available supply of electricity.

For most people, electricity gets little thought. Flick a switch and it’s there, powering lights, ovens, air conditioning. During this week’s extreme heat, and particularly during the peak cooling hours from 3 to 9 p.m., even our country’s abundant power supply can be strained. So it makes sense to conserve by:

• Keep home blinds and shades drawn to block the sun.

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• Keep the house a bit warmer when no one is home, using a programmable thermostat if you have one.

• Have your air conditioning system’s efficiency checked.

• Don’t run heat-generating appliances such as stove’s and dishwashers during the hottest part of the day.

•Keep exterior doors closed as much as possible.

Austin Utilities issues peak energy alerts during times when hot weather is particularly taxing the power supply. Its web site — — has more information on peak alerts and on how to conserve energy.

People ought to use their air conditioning and other electric appliances enough to protect their health and safety. Beyond those needs, however, conserving makes sense.