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Heat wave, Day 2: How are people seeking relief?


The following ran in the June 21, 2012, edition of the Christian Science Monitor. Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University, provided expertise for this story.

June 26, 2012

By Ron Scherer

New York As the heat wave hits Day 2, residents, businesses, and communities in the eastern part of the United States are trying to cope with near-100 degree temperatures and high humidity.

In Philadelphia, this means the Free Library is staying open later to help residents who can’t afford air conditioning get a respite from the heat.

Simon Property Group, a larger owner of malls, is reducing the amount of electricity it uses in 13 malls in the East, as part of its agreements with electric suppliers.

And in New York City, Con Edison decided to reduce voltage by 5 percent to some neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, and it’s asking residents there not to use washers, dryers, and air conditioners.

“So far so good,” says Jim Owen, a spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute in Washington, which represents the power industry. “No significant problems detected in the Middle Atlantic and Northeast at this point.”

Yes, the temperatures are rising, but so far most people, businesses, and communities seem to be finding ways to survive the heat and cut their power usage as much as possible....

Even in a state like Texas, we did not have the power reserves to cover that brutal heat,” says Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

To save electricity, Mr. Bullock recommends that households, especially those that are empty during the day, have thermostats turned up to 78 degrees. “And try not to have two or three power-sucking, widescreen TVs going on at the same time,” he advises. “It’s critical to conserve, especially between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.”

In Houston, Bullock says, some businesses decided to ask employees to work an extra hour per day, in return for getting every other Friday off.

“That does conserve energy in the sense that a business is not taking juice off the grid for a whole day, especially in peak hours,” he says.