As temperatures drop, winter brings a season of change to the lakes. The days are shorter, colder and sometimes even ice and snow begin to appear. Being prepared this season can have a direct impact on your finances and your safety. Bills have the potential to climb as energy usage can be higher in colder months. Additionally, storm preparedness is a top priority when ice and snow storms threaten. Be prepared this winter by following our tips below:
In winter months, cooler temperatures can bring increased energy usage and stresses to your home’s energy system. How can you stay comfortable in cold months and save on your energy bill?
- Turn down that thermostat and take advantage of the sun. Set your thermostat at 68 degrees or lower during the day, and even cooler at night. On sunny days, open blinds to help warm your home.
- Clean or change filters regularly. Make sure heating outlets and return air registers are free of obstructions such as furniture or draperies. Vents should be cleaned regularly with a vacuum or a broom. Filters should be inspected and replaced regularly.
- Check insulation levels. Attic insulation is one of the most important ways of stopping heat loss. The thickness or depth should be 10 to 12 inches, depending on the type of insulation. Floor insulation should be used in homes with a crawlspace or basement. A well-insulated home can save up to 30 percent on your energy bill.
- Stop drafts and air leaks. Check windows, crevices and doors for drafts and air leaks. Using weather-stripping and caulk is a cost-effective way to keep warm air from escaping during the winter (and cool air from escaping in the summer).
- Wrap your electric water heater.
Save energy by placing an insulating blanket around your electric water heater. These easy-to-install blankets are available at most home improvement or building supply stores.
- Don’t let your home’s warmth go up your chimney. Be sure to close the flue when the fireplace is not in use.
- Be a fan of the fan. A ceiling fan, switched to clockwise, circulates warmer air trapped near the ceiling. A small fan can also help distribute warm air around the room.
Winter Storm Preparedness
In case of severe winter weather such as ice, snow storms and freezes, taking steps in advance can help your family stay safe in case of a winter emergency.
- Check your supplies of non-perishable foods and heating fuel and replenish if needed.
- Charge cell phones and other electronic devices before the storm.
- Have enough prescription medicine to last several days.
- Make sure you have flashlights, a battery-powered radio and fresh batteries.
- Ensure elderly family members or friends who live alone are prepared for the weather.
Winter Storm Safety
In case of inclement winter weather, follow these safety tips:
- If you use a portable generator, operate the unit outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area away from air intakes to the home. Keep it protected from direct exposure to rain or snow. A good location is an open shed, under a canopy or a carport. Never use a portable generator indoors or in attached garages. Never plug a generator into a household wall outlet. Power from the generator can feed back into wires outside your home, creating a threat to repair crews. Plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load.
- Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers. Food will stay frozen in a fully loaded freezer for 36 to 48 hours if the door remains closed. If the freezer is half full, food will generally keep 24 hours.
- Stay clear from areas where repair crews are working.
- Stay away from downed lines.
- In case of a power outage, call Alabama Power’s Automated Outage Reporting System at 1-800-888-APCO (2726). It’s the fastest and most effective way to report an outage.
Alabamapower.com offers many resources and videos online. For more information on energy efficiency, visit alabampower.com/tips. For more on storm safety, visit alabamapowernews.com/storm-center.