Heat index in US Northeast tops 100; girl dies in hot car

A man uses a park sprinkler to cool off, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, in New York. Dangerously high heat in the Northeastern United States has prompted emergency measures including extra breaks for players wilting at the U.S. Open tennis tournament. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Days before fall officially arrives, hotter-than-normal temperatures and higher humidity have prompted Tennessee Valley Authority officials to ask electric customers across its multi-state territory to conserve energy.

“Temperatures across the Southeast are 8-10 degrees above normal, so we encourage you to continue using the summer energy saving tips while we wait for those fall temperatures to arrive,” Greg Henrich, general manager of TVA’s Balancing Authority and Resource Operations, said in an emailed press release.

Tuesday’s high of 83 degrees in the Tri-Cities was four degrees higher than normal, according to National Weather Service, data, but temperatures are expected to climb to near 90 as the week wears on, which means air conditioner use — and electric bills — will likely rise.

To make sure generators on the TVA system are meeting the higher demands for electricity, the agency and the companies that buy its power are delaying less critical maintenance.

Using less means lower demand on the electric grid and less expensive utility bills, so TVA recommended some tips to conserve power:

• Crank it up: Setting your thermostat just one degree higher can save up to 3 percent on your power bill. A setting of around 75 degrees is the “sweet spot” to maximize your savings.

• Don’t yo-yo your thermostat: Keep your thermostat changes to 2 or 3 degree adjustments no more than once every four hours. Constantly turning your thermostat way up during the day and then way down when you get home forces your unit to work harder than needed, costing you more money.

• It’s curtains for you: Or maybe blinds, but try to cover your windows on the south and west sides of your home in order to block sunlight during the warmest parts of the day.

• Get out of the kitchen: It is the perfect time for grilling outside, which keeps the heat from cooking the inside of your home.

• Or use that microwave: It will cook your food faster, and keep the kitchen cooler than stovetop or oven cooking would.

• Keep things clean: Keeping your air filters clean will allow your air conditioner to work more efficiently? Change them regularly, too. Clogged filters will make your AC system work harder.

• Seal it up: Caulk around windows and doors to seal the cool air in and keep the heat out. Likewise replace cracked seals around refrigerators or freezers.

• Take a cold shower: Not only will it feel good this time of year, it will save on unnecessary water heating costs.

• Plant a tree or two: Shade trees on the south or southwest side of the house will add beauty and keep your house cooler.