MOUNT VERNON, Mo. — Ozark Electric Cooperative is encouraging customers to voluntarily save electricity as Southwest Missouri continues to experience steamy temperatures.

“When it starts to get into the mid nineties during the day and then it gets to be in the mid seventies in the evening, that’s when the usage really starts to show up,” Ozark Electric CEO and General Manager Patrick Oehlschlager said.

Ozark Electric serves eight counties in the southwest portion of the state. Oehlschlager said customers in the service area typically use the most electricity between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

“From those hours 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. is when our region is returning home, homes are waking up, husbands are coming in, driving the thermostat down and saying ‘I want it to be cooler in here,'” Oehlschlager said. “Or the teenage son or daughter [comes in] and [says], ‘man I just I just had a workout and it’s just needs to be cooler in here.'”

During the hot days, Ozark Electric is looking for customers to save electricity between the peak hours of 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

“I’m not talking to the elderly,” Oehlschlager said. “I’m not talking to maybe folks that have got a new infant that they just came home from the hospital. I’m not talking to folks that have medical equipment in their home that help them. Let the rest of us conserve. We took down the lights, we bumped the thermostats up here at the headquarters and at our district offices to try and help with the effort.”

There are a few ways customers can cut back on using electricity. Ozark Electric suggests bumping up your thermostat temperature a few degrees.

“We usually run the house honestly about 71 or 72 degrees,” homeowner Monte Lorts said. He is an Ozark Electric customer. “We’ve got [our thermostat] up around 75 to 76 degrees. If we can do a little bit to help, then we’re all about that.”

The electric company also suggests other ways to save electricity, like turning off the lights in your home, or avoid using appliances like washing machines or dish washers.

“We’ve not done any wash,” Lorts said. “We’ve got a lot of dirty clothes. We tried to limit the dishwasher, we’ve only run it once or twice. So we’re trying to do what we can, but still be comfortable.”

Ozark Electric said it already saw a dip in usage in on Thursday. Saving on electricity helps the company save power and avoid things like rolling black outs.

“We arre asked to stand down for a little bit and then we’ll roll [the power] back in and pick it back up,” Oehlschlager said. “That’s what happens if the conservation efforts don’t work.”

The cooperative is hopeful many customers will choose to cut back and usage won’t become an issue.