National Grid asks Upstate customers to conserve energy in heat wave

As the northeast tries to beat the heat in the midst of a heat wave, power and electric companies are asking customers to help conserve energy to avoid brownouts.

As the mercury continues to rise above 90 degrees, National Grid is asking Upstate New York customers to cut back on all unnecessary electricity use during daytime hours.

The utility says its electricity supply is sufficient, but fears the combination of heavy demands to keep cool and high temperatures could potentially challenge the regional network. This week's heat wave is driving near record demand for power.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says people should cut back as much as possible to take pressure off the state's power grid and help prevent outages or brownouts.

Consumers are being asked to set air conditioner thermostats no lower than 78 degrees and to turn off air conditioning when spaces aren't occupied.

National Grid suggests customers turn off lights that aren't needed, and avoid cooking, bathing, or washing clothes during the day.

You can also unplug any unnecessary appliances while you're at work. For example, even though your television and other appliances may be turned off, National Grid says electronics with little standby lights still use electricity.

Choosing fans over air conditioning will help reduce energy, and setting the thermostat as high as your health and comfort will allow will also help.

National Grid, which services more than 3 million people living in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York, says the record peak usage for Upstate New York was set two years ago, in July 2011.

Usage peaked at 6,909 megawatts.

So far this week, while usage has flirted with that number, it has not yet gone about it.

By comparison, National Grid says average use ranges between 5,500 - 6,000 megawatts.

State health officials continue to warn people about taking care to stay hydrated, eat light and avoid strenuous activity.

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.)