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Hot Weather in the Forecast, Stay Cool Without Blowing your Budget

With an excessive heat watch in place, Seattle City Light offers tips for staying cool without blowing your budget.

Weather forecasts are calling for temperatures in the 90s Thursday and Friday and the National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat watch.

“Seattle City Light has sufficient electricity to help people stay cool in the hot weather,” Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said. “But we want our customers to know about ways they can beat the heat without driving up their electricity bill.”

“Extra demand for electricity also puts stress on the distribution system that can lead to outages, especially with underground power lines,” Carrasco said. “If an outage should occur, Seattle City Light will restore service as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience while repairs are made.”

One of the best ways to keep your house cool without running up your electricity bill is not to let the outside heat inside. Keeping the windows closed during the day and covered by blinds or drapes can significantly reduce the amount of heat that enters through a window. Better yet, an exterior shade on your window is a great option. Also, good insulation not only keeps your house stay warm in the winter, it helps you keep cool in the summer.

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

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.

Should the power 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 (206) 684-7400 or (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 12 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