Four Ways to Stay Cool This Fourth of July

There’s nothing better than Seattle in the summertime. But with temperatures approaching 80 degrees this Fourth of July, you may be looking for ways to beat the heat. Here are a few tips from the U.S. Department of Energy* on how to keep cool and conserve energy without breaking the bank! Check out this month’s issue of Light Reading for more innovative ways to conserve energy this summer from planting a tree to using your slow cooker. Click here to take a look!

Seattle Animal Shelter reminding pet owners to protect pets from the heat

During a heat wave, make sure your pets have plenty of cool water.

The Seattle Animal Shelter is once again reminding pet owners to take proper precaution during the hot weather expected this week. With temperatures forecasted to reach the 90s, pet owners are encouraged to exercise good judgment and use common sense when it comes to protecting their pets from the heat.

Never leave your animal unattended in a vehicle, said Seattle Animal Shelter Acting Director Ann Graves. Even on a 70-degree day, cars left in the sun can turn into lethal ovens, reaching fatal temperatures of more than 100 degrees within just a few minutes. And with the movement of the sun, cars originally left in the shade can soon be in direct sunlight.

“Even dogs left locked in cars in the shade with the windows cracked on hot days are at risk of brain damage or death,” Graves said. “Our officers receive emergency calls every day about animals locked in cars. If the animal is in distress, officers will use all means possible to rescue the animal.”

The warm weather also creates hazards for cats. As many homes in the Northwest aren’t equipped with air conditioning due to the normally moderate climate, people leave their windows open during warm weather. The fresh air is essential to you and your pets, but be aware of the enticement and danger an open, screenless window can pose for cats.

“Make sure your window screens are secure, especially on second floors and above,” Graves said. “Open, screenless windows are an invitation for curious cats. They may be known for always landing on their feet, but those little paws are no match for the combination of hard ground and gravity when the fall begins six, or even two, stories up.”

Graves offered the following tips for protecting pets during hot weather:

·         Never leave your animal tethered or kenneled in direct sunlight. Provide a shady area for retreat, such as a dog house, porch or shady tree, and always provide access to plenty of cool water.

·         If you leave animals indoors, open the screened windows, keep a fan running, provide plenty of water and, if possible, leave them in a cool location like a basement.

·         Never leave dogs or cats unattended in a closed, locked vehicle.

·         If you must travel with your pet, carry water. If a trip requires you leave your pet in the car at any point, think about saving that for another day. It’s not worth the risk.

·         Avoid overexerting your animal in hot weather. Pavement can get especially hot, and obesity, old age, underlying disease and previous bouts of heat stroke can predispose an animal to the condition. If you are concerned, contact your veterinarian.

·         For birds, take caution and place the bird’s cage away from direct sunlight during the intense heat of the afternoon. Provide water and fruits and vegetables with high moisture content.

·         For rabbits and other small mammals, be sure to keep them cool. Avoid direct sunlight, and consider adding ice cubes to their water or giving them a frozen water bottle to snuggle up to.

If you see an animal that may be in need of assistance, or if you have questions, contact the Seattle Animal Shelter at 206-386-PETS (7387).

Beat the Heat Without Making Your Electricity Bill Skyrocket

An excessive heat warning is in effect through 5 a.m. Sunday and forecasters say temperatures could get as 95 degrees on the Fourth of July.

Seattle City Light has sufficient electricity to help people stay cool in the hot weather, but there are ways you can beat the heat without driving up your electricity bill.  Customers also should be aware that extra demand for electricity puts stress on the distribution system, which can lead to outages, especially with older, underground power lines.

Keeping your windows and blinds closed during the day is one of the best ways to keep your house cool without running up your electric bill. This will significantly reduce the heat that enters your home and adding an external window shade is even more effective. Better yet, good insulation not only keeps your house cool in the summer but warm in the winter.

Other money-saving tips include:

  • Give appliances a break. Limit the use of ranges and stoves, dishwashers, dryers, washing machines and other heat-producing equipment especially during mid-day.
  • Prepare cool meals, such as salads and sandwiches. If you must cook a hot meal, wait until later in the evening when it’s cooler or use your barbecue outdoors.
  • Use a ceiling fan. A typical fan consumes 98 percent less electricity than most central air conditioners use.
  • Adjust ceiling fans to turn counter-clockwise, which will push down warm air trapped near the ceiling.
  • If you have central air conditioning: Cool only the rooms you use but don’t close all vents. Closing too many actually reduces operating efficiency.
  • Turn off the air conditioner when you leave the house for several hours.
  • An air conditioner thermostat is not a throttle, so don’t switch your air conditioner to a colder setting when you turn it on. It won’t cool the room any faster but it will waste energy when you forget to turn it up again. Keep it set at 80 degrees.
  • Install a timer on your room air conditioner, or use a programmable thermostat on your central air conditioner.
  • Keep your air conditioner shaded to improve its efficiency.

For more ways to conserve energy, please go to City Light’s Website http://www.seattle.gov/light/conserve/.

High temperatures can add strain to City Light’s electrical equipment as people turn on air conditioning and refrigerators work harder to keep food cool.

Underground cables are more susceptible to the stress caused by the increased flow of electricity.  Underground power lines are insulated and designed to float in water that fills the concrete vaults, but over time the insulation becomes brittle. If the insulation on an underground cable cracks, any water in the vault will cause a short.

City Light has been working to extend the life of underground cables and improve reliability by injecting some older lines with silicone and replacing others.

If your power does go out, first check your main switch for a blown fuse or an open breaker. If that is not the problem, report the outage by calling either our Outage Hotline (recorded message) at (206) 684-7400 or Customer Service at (206) 684-3000.

Seattle City Light urges its customers to be prepared for outages at any time of the year.

  • Customers relying on electric life-support machines should let City Light know about their needs. Please call (206) 684-3000 and let us know.
  • Have an emergency kit ready.
  • In most cases, food should be safe if refrigerators and freezers are kept shut when the power is out. If the power is out for longer than 10 hours, perishables should be discarded. When it doubt, throw it out.

You can get even more tips for what to do when the power goes out on our website at http://www.seattle.gov/light/neighborhoods/nh4_pout.htm or visit our outage map website at http://www.seattle.gov/light/sysstat/.