CUB Consumer Alert: tips on keeping safe, warm in the bitter cold

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With forecasts calling for dangerous wind chills as low as 40 below zero, CUB today released a Consumer Alert. Here are our emergency tips:

Don’t take any risks. The Illinois Department of Public Health recommends setting your thermostat no lower than 66 degrees in times like this. Never use your oven to heat your home. If you use a space heater, place it on a hard, level surface; keep it away from flammable objects; and don’t leave it on overnight.

Don’t overwork your heating system. Keep comfortable the rooms you use most. Close doors to other rooms. Close blinds for extra protection from icy night winds, but open them during the day so sunlight can help heat your home.

Reduce the drafts. The bitter cold is an opportunity to pinpoint the drafts in your home. Your hardware store can provide materials to seal leaks, but if you can’t get there today, improvise. For example, if you don’t have a door guard or sweep to block cold air under your front and back doors, use a rolled up towel. Using a fireplace to stay warm? Close the damper after you’re done using it, so warm air doesn’t escape out the chimney.

Clear radiators, registers, air returns and baseboards of obstructions. Dust, rugs and furniture can block the heat and leave a room chilly. You can’t heat your home if the air isn’t circulating.

Clean or replace filters for a forced-air heating system. A dirty or non-functioning filter does nothing but drain money from your wallet. Check it every month, and now is a great time to clean or replace it if it’s dirty.

Circulate the heat with the help of a ceiling fan. In the winter, run the fan clockwise (from your position, looking up at it) to pull warm air down from the ceiling. Turn off the fan when you leave the room.

Join CUB Energy Saver. CUB’s free online service, at www.CUBEnergySaver.com, helps you build a money-saving energy plan that’s customized for your home. Plus, it rewards you with gift cards for saving energy.

Check on your neighbors. If you are concerned that neighbors can’t stay warm, check in on them. The State of Illinois has information on how to find a warming center near you. You can also call the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), at 1-800-843-6154, to find a warming center.

Notice how the same efficiency tips that cut your utility bills, also help to keep your home comfortable during emergencies like this.  We’ve always said that energy efficiency is about keeping your home warm, without breaking the bank. Stay warm everyone!

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About Jim Chilsen

Jim is director of communications for the Citizens Utility Board (CUB)
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