Evergy said it anticipated taking control of some customers’ thermostats between 4 and 6 p.m. on Thursday in order to reduce demand on the local energy grid.
Customers who have opted into the utility’s Energy Savings Events program have consented to allowing Evergy to raise their thermostat’s temperatures remotely in order to calibrate demand on the system.
The program requires customers to have a smart thermostat and offers annual discounts on energy bills for participating customers.
Evergy says about 60,000 customers in Kansas are enrolled in the thermostat program.
Evergy spokesperson Gina Penzig said the utility has otherwise prepared for bouts of extreme summer heat by doing routine maintenance on power plants, lines and substations during the spring and fall.
“Our plants, including those designed for peak energy use days like we are experiencing this week, are operating with extra capacity available if it’s needed as customers’ air conditioners work to keep them cool,” Evergy spokesperson Gina Penzig said.
Triple digits possible
Temperatures could hit 100 degrees in the Kansas City region Thursday, for the first time since July 12, 2018, according to the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.
Heat indexes on Thursday and Friday are expected to reach well into the triple digits.
Hot weather conditions will continue through the end of the week. Humidity will be on the increase with heat index values over a 100 Thursday. Thunderstorm chances return for the weekend. pic.twitter.com/ktKsQ0Tq1L
— NWS Kansas City (@NWSKansasCity) June 15, 2021
The Mid-America Regional Council, or MARC, issued an ozone alert for the greater Kansas City area for Wednesday, warning that poor air quality caused, in part, by the heat will make many outdoor activities difficult.
“People who are sensitive to air pollution — including children, older adults, and people with breathing or heart problems — should take special care to limit outdoor activity between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.,” MARC said in a statement Tuesday.
Those with difficulty breathing are urged to schedule outdoor activities either before 10 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
Staying cool recommendations
The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment recommends the following to stay safe and cool:
- Outside activities should be reduced, eliminated or rescheduled to the coolest part of the day (typically early morning or after sunset).
- Dress in lightweight, light-colored clothing that reflects heat and sunlight and helps your body maintain normal temperatures.
- Decrease the consumption of foods that increase your metabolic production and don’t keep you hydrated. This includes highly processed foods, like doughnuts and candy, but also includes caffeine.
- Drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids. A person can become dehydrated before they feel thirst.
- Avoid sunburn. Sunburn makes the job of heat dissipation much more difficult, so make sure to put on sunblock before going out for an extended period of time.
Risks to children, the elderly and pets
The extreme heat poses a heightened risk to children and young people who may be spending extended time in the sun.
And as outdoor activities increase during summer, including going to the pool, playing in the park and riding bikes, parents and families should keep a close eye on children and monitor the amount of time they spend in extreme heat.
According to JDCHE’s recommendations, if the heat index is between 90 and 95 degrees, or if there is a heat advisory in effect, children should be outside for 30 minutes or less at a time.
In general, local health experts also recommend seniors stay out of the heat as much as possible.
The elderly adapt less easily to the heat and may have chronic health conditions or be taking medications that make it harder for them to regulate their body temperature.
And as temperatures turn up, the heat can be oppressive on pets, as well.
“Make sure they have plenty of water if they’re going to be outside, and make sure they have a shady place to stay,” Jonathan Kurtz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill, said.
He suggests keeping them out of direct sunlight and allowing them to come inside for long stretches of the day to keep cool.
“And if you’re going to take your pets on a walk, you might want to pay attention to the pads of their feet. It’s something to easily forget about. We have shoes on but to them, it’s their bare feet on the ground, like asphalt,” he said.
Kurtz also said people shouldn’t skimp on using their air conditioners during week’s like this, if they can afford to let the AC run.
“It’s really important, especially in the high heat parts of the day, to try to keep your house as cool as possible,” he said.
Editor Kyle Palmer contributed to this report.