How To Heat Your Home During Extreme Cold Snaps

It doesn’t happen often, but South Jersey does get extreme cold snaps. The current cold snap is a severe one and may continue to ebb & flow for several more weeks. Extreme cold can cause a variety of problems for homeowners trying to stay warm or simply just comfortable. Here’s how to get through it!

Forget about using the setback option on your thermostat or turning it down at night...

Put your thermostat on "hold" to keep the temperature steady. If you turn your thermostat down, you may not get it back to where you like it (or feel comfortable) if the thermostat has to catch up...and the relatively minor savings may backfire!

Your thermostat is NOT like a car accelerator...

Turning your thermostat up more will not get your home warmer, quicker. Like the chicken cooker—set it & forget it!

Don’t close vents off or close doors in your home...

You are better off circulating all the heat through the whole house. Heaters with ducts are sensitive to air flow. You can even damage your heater if you restrict the air flow. The last thing you want to happen is for your heater to shut down because IT got too hot!

If you have more than one thermostat, turn them all to the same temperature...

Again, it is better (and recommended) to keep the whole house warm. But….if your lower floor is much cooler than the upper floor, it MAY help to turn the thermostat upstairs down a little.

In extreme weather, your heater may not be able to keep up!

According to government standards, heaters in our area of the country should be designed to maintain a comfortable temperature of 70 degrees inside your home when it is 13 degrees outside. This means your heater may not be capable of keeping up with demand for short periods when it is below 13 degrees outside. It is okay for your heater to “never shut off”. That’s what they are supposed to do when it’s really cold. Running constantly is actually easier on the motors that going on & shutting off.

Close the drapes, open the cupboards, turn on the water and get another blanket!

  • Close your drapes at night to help cut down drafts and cold air emanating from the windows - then, open them for day time sun
  • Open cabinet doors below sinks, especially if the cabinet is on an exterior wall - let that warm air circulate around your pipes
  • Let the water drip (or run very slowly) on cold nights in a couple of sinks to prevent a freeze at a susceptible point in the system - that’s both the cold and hot water
  • Dress warm, throw an extra blanket on & snuggle up! Kids don’t have a lot of body heat, so think about putting two in the same bed

Seal it up!!!

  • Take a tour around your home. Be sure your crawl space vents and crawl access doors are closed up tight - this will keep cold air away from your pipes and floors
  • Make sure the attic hatch and pull down stairs are sealed tight. Tons of air comes down from attic accesses - buy an attic access sealing system. We LOVE the attic zipper seal system and install them for less than $300.00 (give call us at 609-400-1005 for more information)
  • Caulk around hose bibs and outdoor electrical outlets
  • If your doors and windows are drafty, run to the local hardware store for sealing materials - they have a great variety
  • Close the chimney flue when not in use - make sure everything has burnt out or cooled off
  • Dead bolt the door on windy days. If your door is blown open and left that way for any period of time, the house can quickly cool to dangerous levels.

Pretending it’s not there is a recipe for trouble...

Your heater should not make funny noises, or cause unusual odors. Get your heater checked if it doesn’t sound (or smell) right. If you don’t think your heater is running properly for ANY reason, don't hesitate to ask for a professional's advice. Do it before your heater quits on you and you the find parts are not available - or before you’re hit with costs you wouldn’t have had if you had it looked at sooner (call us for advice at 609-400-1005)

CHANGE YOUR AIR FILTER!!!           NOW!!!           RIGHT NOW!!!

image-ocean-city-nj-snow-covered-1000x500px

SPECIAL ATTENTION VACATION HOME OWNERS

Is your house going to be empty? This info holds true, even if you’re only going away for the weekend...

In single digit outdoor temperatures, pipes can start to freeze in just a few hours if the heat goes off. We’ve seen people that have a service or neighbor check the house once a week; or even every day in extremely cold weather. We've even seen situations where the heat went off shortly after the house was checked and it froze up before another visit the very next day!

To prevent this problem in your home, you should consider investing in a Wifi thermostat that will alert you to a problem with the heater BEFORE temperatures start drastically dropping in the house. With a Wifi thermostat, you can also turn the temperature up in the house if you’re away and the forecast says it’s getting cold. But you still have to pay attention to the weather forecast around here, even if you don't need to where you’re lounging in the sunshine :). If you keep the thermostat at 55 degrees when you’re away, you can turn it up to 65-70 degrees until the cold spell breaks (call us for more information on wifi thermostats at 609-400-1005)

Always think safety!!!

  • Don’t overload circuits with space heaters
  • Keep electric heaters away from water, small children and pets
  • Don’t use portable heaters that use gas, propane or kerosene inside
  • Never use charcoal or wood pellets in any device not specifically designed for them and NEVER use a grill or camp stove inside!!!
  • Don’t use the oven to heat the house
  • If you are going to use the kitchen stove, put pots of water on top of the burners to boil—the warm humid air will spread the heat around better. **CAUTION: be sure to keep water in the pots and NEVER leave a pot unattended or boiling when you leave the house or go to sleep!!!!

In Summary

None of us need (or want) a big heating bill simply because we had a long cold snap. A heating bill that may be 50% more is not all that bad when you consider that not taking any precautions can result in thousands of dollars of damages!

If you are having trouble paying your heating bills there are agencies that may be able to offer assistance. Call us at 609-400-1005 for more information on these valuable resources...

We will all get through this cold snap and back to the normal temperatures soon. In the meantime stay comfortable & protect your home!