As bitter cold arrives, some Hoosiers turning down the thermostat

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It seems like an unusual request for one of the coldest nights in years: turn down the heat.

But that's exactly what many utility companies are asking, as Hoosiers try to stay warm.

At a time when the air outside is colder than ever, heating the air inside is more important than ever.

But from all that winter use, what keeps us warm is getting maxed out. In fact, many Hoosiers are now being asked to turn down the heat.

Electricity providers, natural gas companies and propane suppliers have put out requests urging conservation.

With demand nearing record-breaking levels, they'd like people to dial down the thermostat a bit, even in extreme cold. 

"It's difficult. You can have the best intentions, but I don't know how you do that," said Liz Keith, Lebanon. 

Keith's kids are not only affected by this at home, but also at school.

Lebanon's Perry-Worth Elementary is heated by propane.

Right now, the tank is running low.

It's down to 30% capacity, which Superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor says, is enough to keep the school running for only about three to four more weeks. 

"We have about 9000 gallons left, but we use about 450 gallons daily," Dr. Taylor explained.

"I was shocked when I got the phone call today because I hadn't even thought about the school running out," Keith said.

A serious propane shortage across the country is making it tough, if not impossible, for the school district to re-supply.

"I think from Chicago to Louisville and from St. Louis to Cleveland, there's no propane to be had," Dr. Taylor said.

So now, the school plans to cancel after school activities starting Wednesday.

Science Fair practice, basketball and art clubs will all be eliminated, so they can turn down the heat to around 57 degrees at night and keep classes warm during the day.

It's a conservation effort school leaders didn't want to do, but one they felt necessary to keep kids safe even indoors.

Dr. Taylor says they'll cancel those after-school activities for a week, then reevaluate the situation.

If they receive more propane, or if the weather warms enough, those activities may be reinstated.