Weather maps show 73% of the country has snow cover and Iowans are well aware of how the prolonged subzero temperatures are causing trouble, especially with home heating demands.

Iowa’s largest utility is asking residents to voluntarily conserve natural gas by lowering thermostats a few degrees. MidAmerican Energy spokesman Geoff Greenwood says things are simply “not normal” right now.

“We’ve had extreme cold down south where they produce natural gas and there’s been demand all over the country due to the frigid temperatures,” Greenwood says. “That has created some strain on the natural gas that’s flowing into our area.”

The Des Moines-based utility has not experienced any widespread outages like in Texas, where some four-million homes are without power. Greenwood says even small adjustments to your thermostat will help to make sure natural gas remains available.

“It’s always a good idea for customers to do what they can to save energy, especially in the wintertime as heating costs add up,” Greenwood says. “We are, right now, able to serve our customers as they need.”

Some smaller power cooperatives in Iowa have been warning customers of the potential for rolling blackouts that may last 45 minutes in order to keep the system up and running.

“MidAmerican customers are connected to a different portion of the electric grid,” Greenwood says, “and it’s not experiencing the same types of challenges that we’re seeing with other customers to our west and to our south.”

MidAmerican has about 795,000 electric customers in Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota, and 775,000 natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. While natural gas demand rises, a news release from Alliant Energy says it, too, is projecting sufficient supply to meet the needs of natural gas and electric customers.

Forecasters say temperatures will gradually rise over the next several days, pushing into the 30s by this weekend.