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LIPA asks consumers to conserve as heat wave sets record

Wantagh resident Andy Fraembs enjoying the cool water

Wantagh resident Andy Fraembs enjoying the cool water while boogie boarding through some rough waves at Jones Beach. (June 27, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Long Island Power Authority said it has plenty of juice to keep air conditioners rolling for the next few days of the heat wave, but has asked the public to help conserve electricity as usage reached an historic high Tuesday

LIPA spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said Tuesday's usage reached 5,824 megawatts - surpassing the previous high of 5,792 megawatts recorded on Aug. 3, 2006. The authority estimates use for the rest of the week will continue at high levels and appealed to the public to conserve where possible.

In the heat of the day Tuesday, outages peaked at 3,734 across Long Island, - around 0.3 percent of LIPA customers - largely due to blown fuses and transformers causedby the heat, Baird-Streeter said.

Most customers are getting power returned after an hour to an hour and a half, she said.

New York Power Authority chief executive Richard Kessel, who once headed LIPA, said the state's electrical utilities are handling the heat well, but cautioned that failure of a major piece of equipment could change that.

"The more electricity you use, the more of a demand it places on the system," he said.

Baird-Streeter noted LIPA has a full staff working the next few days, and can easily change to 16-hour shifts if necessary.

Kessel warned that as the heat wave continues, consumers were likely to become more lax about conserving and usage is likely to rise. "We haven't had a significant heat wave for a number of years," he said. "We don't really know how much demand is out there."

LIPA has asked residents to conserve energy where possible. Here are some tips to help save both money and electricity during the heat wave:

Put air conditioners on timers so they are not used or on a low temperature when no one is home.

Keep air conditioners at 78 degrees.

Use fans to circulate cool air from air conditioners.

Run major appliances, such as washers, dryers and dishwashers, during nonpeak hours of early morning and evenings.

Clean filters and maintain air conditioning units.

On hot days, the temperature in your attic can reach 150 degrees. Improving ventilation in your attic - with the help of an extraction fan, for example - will lower the temperature of the entire house, and make the air conditioner's job much easier.

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