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Hot advice on how to stay cool in stifling heat

by Lance Farrell

July 18, 2012

Summertime and this time the living's not so easy.

As 4,920 high temperature records were set across the United States recently, many Oxford residents sought ways to stay cool and safe. Beaches and ice-cream parlors saw the usual stream of warm-weather patrons, but what else can be done to avoid the ravages of the heat?

"It's always the elderly and the littlest children . . . and people with chronic medical conditions" who are most susceptible to extreme heat, said Lieutenant Nancy Hunger, EMS Coordinator for Oxford Fire Department.

Hunger expressed relief that no emergency runs specifically related to the high temperatures have been made this season. But to avoid that eventuality, Hunger said Oxford residents can manage the heat if they "stay inside, drink lots of water, stay cool, avoid going out . . .drink nonalcoholic beverages, and reduce . . . activity level. As for pets and livestock, Hunger advised keeping them inside as well, if possible.

Many already heed her advice, but an extra load is placed on the electrical grid when everyone goes indoors and runs the air conditioning. To avoid overloading circuits, Hunger advised residents to "turn off anything that is unnecessary: lights, coffee-makers; skip the blow dryer type (of appliances) that really drain your circuits. Anything that is heat related puts a lot of load on electric (circuits)" Lt. Hunger said.

DTE Spokesperson Alejandro Bodipo-Memba is weathering the heat along with the rest of Oxford township. He said "at this time there have been no brown outs; (however) we do know that throughout the entire region there has been a tremendous heat wave which has put a strain on the entire system." His advice is similar to Hunger's.

Bodipo-Memba advised raising "AC temperature to 80 degrees or the highest comfortable level. (Residents) can defer use of appliances and equipment such as washers, dryers, ovens, dishwashers, dehumidifiers, swimming pool filters until after 9:00 p.m."

"Turn off all unnecessary lights," he continued, "run kitchen and bath exhaust fans only long enough to rid the house of unwanted vapors and odors. Try not to position your heat-producing appliances . . . beneath a wall-mounted thermostat . . . (because) that tricks the system into thinking it's hotter than it (is). Obviously, draw blinds and shades, particularly in the south and west facing windows," he concluded.

One other option for Oakland County residents is to opt into DTE's Interruptible Air Condition Rate program. This voluntary program currently has 280,000 participants saving approximately 20 percent off their electrical rates.

According to the DTE website, customers can authorize DTE "to cycle . . . service briefly by remote control on very hot days or when there is high demand for electricity." These cycles are 15 minutes at a time and can be no more than eight out of a 24 hour period, so the comfort of a home will not change.

In addition, DTE advised, "cycling your air conditioning load may reduce your carbon footprint, helping you become a little greener. It also helps us provide more reliable service for all customers on days when the demand for electricity is particularly high."

These are the days that fry men's souls, but if you'd like to stay cool and make it to the fall, consider heeding the advice offered by Hunger and Bodipo-Memba. It will save you some dough and maybe even your life.

DTE customers interested in the Interruptible Air Condition Rate program can call 1-800-477-4747.