The state's largest power utility wants you to limit how much you express your holiday cheer.

At least for now.

Rocky Mountain Power is not trying to be Scrooge this holiday season. The utility is trying prevent customers from paying higher electricity bills later.

As the mercury in northern Utah dips into toward zero at night and only into the teens during the day, RMP is calling on its customers to reduce their energy use wherever possible over the next few days.

Due to widespread below-freezing weather across much of the western United States, electricity demand has increased dramatically, Rocky Mountain Power said in a news release.

The statement added that western electric utilities are coordinating efforts in response to high customer usage, strained electricity supplies and transmission constraints. The utility is trying to avoid purchasing more electricity on the open market, which sometimes is costlier than locally produced electricity.

While similar requests are relatively common during the hot summer months, the last time the utility made such a request during the cold-weather months was during the energy crisis that began in summer 2000 and ran through summer 2001, according to RMP spokesman Jeff Hymas.

"Our highest demand is in the summer and winter," Hymas said. " (It's those) extremes in temperatures that can stress the system."

By reducing electricity use now, customers can help ease the pressure on the regional electric grid, the company said. If further actions are necessary, Rocky Mountain Power will provide as much notification to customers as possible.

"We're not asking customers to … greatly reduce their comfort level," Hymas said. "What we're asking is that customers take simple and easy steps to reduce their energy use."

If customers throughout the region comply, then "together that will make a big difference."

Energy-saving suggestions can be found at www.rockymountainpower.net or by calling toll-free at 1-888-221-7070.

"It's just to ensure that there is enough supply and transmission capability across the region," Hymas said.

e-mail: [email protected]

Energy-saving tips

Turn off lights, computers, televisions and appliances when you're not using them.

Adjust the use of large appliances such as clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers and ranges to off-peak hours (from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.), whenever possible. Use small kitchen appliances and microwaves for food preparation instead of ovens and range tops.

If you have electric heat, set the thermostat at 68 degrees or lower, health permitting.

Lower thermostat to 60 degrees overnight, health permitting, or when you are away from your home for several hours. Even if you do not have electric heat, lowering the thermostat reduces power used by your furnace's fan.

Avoid using holiday lights.

Unplug any second refrigerators after moving items to your primary refrigerator.

Source: Rocky Mountain Power