Polar Vortex freezes U.S.

Tips to help consumers cope with frigid temperatures, frozen pipes

Dec 28, 2017

With most of the United States under a deep freeze from record low temperatures, Consumer Energy Alliance offers tips to help consumers save energy and keep heating costs down, while staying warm during the winter freeze. They include:

• Turning your thermostat back 10° to 15° when you’re asleep or out, which saves about 10 percent annually in heating costs.

• Opening curtains on south-facing windows to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home.

• Keeping your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning.

• Using ceiling fans to circulate warm air. Reversing your ceiling fan clockwise helps move warmer pooled air near the ceiling back into the living space.

• Keeping doors closed to rooms not in use, especially those with an exterior wall, which makes home heating more efficient.

Frozen pipes

Maine Water recommends a number of steps for preventing and dealing with frozen pipes. Your water pipes and meter (if you have one) might freeze if they are not protected from extreme cold.

The following tips can help you safeguard your pipes and water meter from freeze-ups:

• Locate your shutoff valve and be sure it is working properly in case of an emergency.

• Protect outside pipes and faucets. If you have a separate shutoff valve for the outside faucet, turn it off and drain the lines. If not, wrap and insulate outside faucets or hose bibs.

• Check for broken windows or damaged skirting that might cause freezing to your pipes or meter in your basement or crawl space.

• Caulk around pipes where they enter the house. Seal cracks or holes in windows, walls or doors near the meter or pipes.

• Make sure room heat can circulate freely around the meter and water pipes.

• Leave cabinet doors open where there is plumbing when the temperature is below freezing to allow more heat to the pipes.

• Wrap interior pipes with insulation, particularly in unheated areas like the garage, basement or crawl space.

• If you have had problems in the past with your pipes freezing, you may want to let the water run at a slow rate in extreme cold. The extra cost in your water bill will be minimal compared to the cost of repairing a broken pipe.

If your pipes freeze, follow these steps:

Thaw the lines safely. Use hair dryers, heat lamps or electric lamps. Thawing won’t be fast, but it will be safe. Do not leave the pipes unattended. Don’t use an open flame or an electric arc welder to thaw frozen water lines.

When plumbing pipes are frozen, there is often water available at one faucet but not another. If there is no water at all, the problem could be underground or in the street.

If your pipes burst, shut off your water and the water heater. If you have a broken pipe, you might want to call a plumber for the repair.

 

 

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