Air Conditioning Ordered Cranked Down At State Offices

If you work in a state office you're not imagining it getting warmer at your desk. Governor Mike Easley has order thermostats to be raised two degrees higher during the next few days.

The governor says raising the AC to between 78 and 80 degrees will help power companies as they experience record demand for electricity amid the heat wave.

Easley urges residents to do their part in conserving power as well.
"If every customer will adjust the thermostat up to two degrees, it will help ensure that we do not have any blackouts anywhere across the state," Easley said.

More than two-thirds of the state is under a National Weather Service heat advisory or warning as temperatures are expected to hit triple digits for the next few days.

The heat index, which measures the impact of the combined temperature and humidity on people, is expected to exceed 110 degrees both today and Thursday with temperatures remaining in the 90s through the weekend.

While the state's major utility companies have not experienced any power production problems, they anticipate record-breaking demands for electricity. Utilities are asking customers to voluntarily conserve power during the late afternoons, when demand for electricity is the greatest.

State agencies are already taken precautions for employees who have to work outside and visitors to state facilities from the aquariums to the zoo.

The Department of Transportation allows crews to adjust their schedule so they start work early before the hottest part of the day, and they are reminded to drink water often and take breaks.

At the three state aquariums, children in summer camps do outdoor activities in the morning and have plenty to drink. Inside the aquariums, fans and chillers are used to keep water temperatures from getting too warm, which could affect oxygen levels and harm the sea life.

At the N.C. Zoological Park in Asheboro, animals are given food treats frozen in a block of ice and have some sort of pond or water to get into. Almost all the pathways throughout the Zoo are shaded, and visitors can also get under spray misters or go into the air conditioned exhibits.

North Carolina's local health, social services and aging agencies are monitoring the situation in their communities, since extended periods of high heat may result in health problems, particularly for the frail elderly and very young.

The State Energy Office offers these tips for reducing energy use in the home and at work:

  • Set the thermostat to 78 to 80 degrees or higher when your home or business is occupied, and 85 degrees when unoccupied. Consider installing a programmable thermostat, which can be bought at most major home improvement stores, to perform this task for you.
    Do not set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on the air conditioner. It will not cool the building faster and, if you forget to change the setting, can result in excessive cooling and unnecessary energy consumption.

  • Use shades and blinds to keep the sun out and secure windows tightly to prevent air conditioning loss.

  • Station fans in areas of your home or work where you spend time. Consider installing ceiling fans in bedrooms and other high occupancy areas. Use ceiling fans only when a room is occupied.

  • Perform regular maintenance on cooling equipment such as cleaning condenser coils, checking refrigerant pressures, changing belts and filters and fixing duct leaks.

  • If replacing a central air conditioning unit any older appliances and electronic equipment, consider ENERGY STAR® products, which use significantly less energy.

  • Place your gas water heater on "vacation" mode or turn off your electric water heater when you leave town for extended periods of time.

  • Use full washer loads when washing clothes or dishes, and use the air-drying cycle instead of the heat-drying cycle.
    Install or replace worn weather stripping on exterior doors, windows or attic entry doors.

For more tips on power conservation, go to .

The N.C. Departments of Health & Human Services and Crime Control & Public Safety offer these tips during the high temperatures to help avoid heat-related health problems:

Do not leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even for just a few minutes. Car interiors can quickly heat up and cause serious injury or death.

Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water but avoid alcohol and large amounts of sugar. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink.

Stay indoors and if at all possible, in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, try to find a neighbor, relative or public place that does. Just a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.

Take a cool shower or bath.

Avoid, as much as possible, using your stove and oven. This will help keep cooler temperatures in your home.

If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. If you know someone in this age group, check on them at least twice a day.

If you must be outdoors, try to limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. When working in the heat, have plenty of water available and monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness.