How to Prepare your Home for Polar Vortex And Other Extreme Cold
Most of us around the nation felt at least some of the chill and the nasty effects of the “polar vortex” last week which took winter to a new extreme. Chicago and other parts of the Midwest stayed well below zero degrees Fahrenheit, with some parts experiencing a wind chill as low as -50 degrees.
The extreme weather left thousands without electricity, halted about 4,000 flights and even caused a dam of ice to block the Delaware River in New Jersey.
Frost bite was not the only concern for many Americans who wisely chose to stay home. Many were more likely to suffer bursting pipes and outrageous energy bills from keeping their home warm. Like meteorologist Alex Sosnowski of AccuWeather.com warned, “The cold may be intense enough to cause school closings, frozen pipes and water main breaks.
Heating systems may struggle to keep up, people will spend more money keeping their homes and businesses warm and ice will again build up on area rivers.” Heating companies were overwhelmed by an unusually large amount of use — Illinois, New England and even some Texas energy providers all reported strains on their infrastructure caused by heavy demand for heating power.
What’s worse is that meteorologists warn of a second round of frigid weather expected to hit on Tuesday, Jan. 21. While experts don’t expect temperatures as extreme as last week’s, most of the nation will experience temperatures near zero degrees, and this time the cold will likely last until the end of January. So, to keep your home and yourself warm in the coming weeks without the bank on your home heating systems, here are a few tips.
Take a Look at your heating appliances:
Before the cold strikes again, take a look at your home furnace. If the filter has not been replaced and the furnace has not been inspected lately, call a professional to get a tune-up and install a new filter. While it’s always a temptation to crank up the heat during a frigid day, to keep your heating bills down, set your thermostat at an average temperature, around 67-69 degrees. Stock up on the blankets if you are still feeling the cold (maybe even invest in a Snuggie). Lowering the thermostat by even one degree can reduce energy use by 3 percent.
Make sure your thermostat for your water heater is no higher than 125, and maintains a heat of about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If your water heater older than 5 years, invest in a new one, and if it gets really cold out make sure you leave one faucet in the home dripping to prevent the pipes from freezing. Finally, make sure to close the fireplace damper and seal the opening shut when it is not in use, as the fireplace takes heat already in the home and pushes it out the chimney.
Check the doors and windows:
Simple fixes to doors and windows can have a great impact on the heat in your home. Make sure to seal all windows completely shut and make use of door draft stoppers. You can pick up plastic window installation from any home improvement store. Keep all doors and windows closed as much as possible, and close off rooms that are not in use.
Invest and Update
A humidifier can make a dry, cold home more comfortable, since adding moisture into the air actually makes the air warmer. Updating the insulation in your home, especially in older homes which may not have any insulation in the walls, will help trap the heat inside. Make sure you have at least 15 to 16 inches of insulation. A final quick fix, and one many people may not know, is that simply reversing the direction of your ceiling fan actually pushes rising heat in your home back down, helping to circulate the warm air back toward you.
How to Prepare your Home for Polar Vortex and other Extreme Cold.