NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Air conditioners will be kicking into high gear as the temperature climbs and the city’s largest utility says it is ready to do battle with the hot weather.

When one summer ends Con Ed begins preparing for the next year’s round of extreme heat and humidity.

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“We spent more than $1 billion preparing for the summer of 2011 and beyond,” spokesman Alan Drury told 1010 WINS. “We’re confident that while there probably will be scattered outages that we’ll be able to keep them confined and short in duration.”

Con Ed’s Chief spokesman Mike Clendenin told WCBS 880 all 14,000 of its employees are working 12-hour shifts.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports: Con Ed Expecting High Power Demand

Homeowners are asked to conserve as much energy as possible and to take care to keep the heat from creeping in.

Simple practices, such as pulling blinds down, keeping doors closed and running air conditioners at a moderate temperature, will go a long way.

“People can save a lot of money and energy by taking some simple steps such as cleaning their air conditioning filters,” Drury said. “We also recommend that people set their thermostats at about 78 degrees — each degree lower than that increases your cooling costs by about 6 percent.”

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Energy experts say the cooling demand in the northeast may double in the coming days.

Con Ed says it expects peak power demand to hit around 4 p.m. Thursday.

Its all-time record demand was 13,141 mega-watts at 5 p.m. on Aug. 2, 2006 and Drury believes that number could be beat either Thursday or Friday.

The Tri-state isn’t the only area that’s been hit with this massive heat wave. The midwest has been sweating it out for more than a week.

Forty out of the 50 states have hit at least 90 degree temperatures in the last two days and has been blamed for more than a dozen deaths.

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