Madison officials are asking city electric-utility customers to keep their use of electricity to a minimum starting on Monday morning to avoid peak-use charges that would be assessed for the use of additional power consumed during the current stretch of bitterly-cold winter weather.

The staff at the Madison Electric Department sent out emails and announced on its Facebook page on Sunday afternoon that the department was declaring an energy alert at 6 a.m. on Monday that would last for 24 hours.

The announcement stated, "Due to the persistent cold weather forecast for Monday, an energy alert is being declared for the city of Madison. City consumers are encouraged to voluntarily conserve or limit energy usage."

The energy alert is scheduled to end at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

Utility offcials said the voluntary reduction in electricity use would "...assist in controlling the peak demand on the power system." They asked that utility customers turn off any unnecessary lights and/or electric space heaters.

City officials also asked that utility customers delay any major appliance usage such as the use of clothes dryers and washers and dishwashers during the energy alert.

For any individuals who may experience significant personal difficulties, such as health problems, due to excessive energy cutbacks, the staff utility rn=couraged those persons to "...put personal safety ahead of any requests associated with this alert during these unseasonably cold days."

On Friday, Madison officials warned residents to take precautions against frozen water pipes during the current subzero weather.

They offered tips to avoid frozen water pipes at the city website, The tips included:

-- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.

-- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.

-- When the weather is very cold outside let the cold-water drip from the faucet, with flow up to the size of a pencil-width, served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe -- even at a trickle -- helps prevent pipes from freezing.

-- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, a resident may incur a higher heating bill, but they can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.

More tips are available at the city website.