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Electricity Grid Begins to Feel the Heat

Get used to it: ERCOT, which manages the state's power grid, is asking people to conserve energy this afternoon until at least 7 p.m. because it is so freaking hot.

"The ERCOT region is continuing to experience record high temperatures throughout the state, which is causing high electricity usage," said Kent Saathoff, vice president of system planning and operations. "We expect to break our all-time peak electricity demand Tuesday and Thursday, depending on weather conditions."

The worst times of day: between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. No one wants their a/c going dead then, so lay off the dishwasher, washing machines and hair-dryers as much as possible.

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The official tips:

-- Turn off all unnecessary lights, appliances and electronic equipment.

-- When at home, close blinds and drapes that get direct sun, set air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, and use fans to cool the air.

-- When away from home, set air conditioning thermostats to 85 degrees and turn all fans off before you leave. Block the sun by closing blinds or drapes on windows that will get direct sun.

-- Do not use your dishwasher, laundry equipment, hair dryers, coffeemakers or other home appliances during the peak hours of 3 to 7 p.m.

-- Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers more than necessary.

-- Use microwaves for cooking instead of an electric range or oven.

-- Set your pool pump to run in the early morning or evening instead of the afternoon.

ERCOT's peak demand record is 65,776 megawatts, set Aug. 23, 2010. As we write this, the current load is at 66,406.

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