How Do I Keep My Home Warm During Power Outage
Texans woke to teeth-chattering Arctic cold this morning scarcely seen in decades. With temperatures struggling to climb from single digits in the wee-small hours, ERCOT warned Texas electric customers to conserve electricity. Otherwise, “Rotating outages may be needed to protect the system.” The combination of snow and ice pulling down power lines and higher-tan normal demand is straining ERCOT’s system. At 12: 10 pm, 1.5 million CenterPoint customers had now no power. And with below-freezing temperaturesexpected to hang around until Wednesday, Texas electricity customers are worrying about blackouts. So, to help you and your family get safely through this crisis, we’ll take you through how to keep warm if your power goes out.
How Long Will My House Stay Warm Without Power?
In homes with a large generator or a fireplace, don’t fret. You’re pretty much set as long as you’re able to heat your home.
However, some homeowners worry their home’s temperature will plummet as soon as their heater shuts down. But luckily, due to the physics of cooling, that’s not how things work.
Homes store heat and most will take 8 – 12 hours to cool to freezing. Obviously, the longer your home remains unheated, the colder it will get. However, the rate at which it loses heat slows down, too. For example, a 74°F home will lose heat faster than another home that’s only 64°F.
Just how fast your home loses heat depends on its size, how well air-sealed it is against drafts, how well insulated is, and if it has an upstairs.
That all said, the secret to staying warm your power goes out is to conserve heat.
How To Conserve Heat And Stay Warm
Conserving heat has three simple steps:
- Stay Layered — The first step is to get everyone into warmer clothes; sweat shirts, sweaters, thermal underwear. With everyone dressed for cold weather the more comfortable everyone will be. Be sure not to get so bundled up that you begin sweating. Damp clothes can lead to hypothermia in cold weather so don’t overdo it. Stay dry.
- Stay Fed and Hydrated — The human body burns a lot of energy just to maintain its basic functions. When you’re cold, you burn more energy. Consequently, it’s very important to keep your family fed and get enough water. Of course, you don’t want to stuff yourself. That’s because about an hour after you eat a meal, your body sends more blood to your gut to help digest the food. As a result, you feel colder. Also, avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking increases your body’s heat loss by dilating your blood vessels. The increased blood flow exhausts more heat through your skin. And because it is a depressant, it cuts your body’s natural ability to generate heat by shivering.
- Stay Centered — Move everyone to the main floor of your home, preferably to a room that’s near the center of your home or has the fewest exterior facing walls and high ceilings. This is because it’s easier to keep smaller rooms warm, especially if they’re sheltered from losing heat through windows or exterior facing walls. Be sure to bring in the supplies you need to keep warm or handy in with you. Don’t forget to bring in flashlights, blankets, extra clothes, and coats and hats.
- Stay Together — Humans bodies continually produce a LOT of heat; roughly about 350 BTUs. That’s the equivalent of 105 to 110 watts of energy. So, it’s no surprise that a group of well-nourished humans lounging in a small room in the center of a home can actually generate enough heat to make keep that space comfortable for quite a long time. This way you’ll all be more comfortable while you wait for the electricity in Houston or Dallas to come back on.
How to Keep Infants and Seniors Warm and Safe
Both infants and the elderly physical problems keeping warm in cold weather. Infants under the age of one lose body heat far too rapidly. When they get too cold, they become lethargic or unresponsive and their skin is cool to the touch. All this very dangerous and they should see a doctor immediately. Seniors over the age of 65, meanwhile, tend to have lower metabolic rates so that their bodies are unable to produce enough heat. Consequently, it’s far easier for them to develop hypothermia.
Recognize these signs of hypothermia
- Slurred speech or mumbling
- Slow, shallow breathing
- Weak pulse
- Clumsiness or lack of coordination
- Drowsiness or very low energy
- Confusion or memory loss
- Loss of consciousness
- Bright red, cold skin (in infants)
Should I Use a Grill to Keep My Home Warm?
NO! Lighting a fire in anything but a fireplace with a chimney is extremely dangerous in a home. Not only is the danger of fire but also for deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Each year, 430 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning and 50,000 visit the emergency room. In Texas, entire families have been killed by using charcoal to heat their homes.
Don’t do it — it’s plain stupid!
What To Do When The Power Goes Out For Too Long
If you’ve been without power for 8 hours or more and it’s growing more difficult to keep everyone warm, comfortable, and safe, then it’s time to think about heading to a community shelter. Both Houston and north Texas communities in the Dallas area are opening warming centers:
How To Protect Water Pipes When Your Power Goes Out
Unless you rely on a well, your home’s plumbing should be fine, especially if you’ve insulated your water pipes. But, if the your power has been out for several hours and you’re going to go to a community shelter, then it’s time to take preventive steps to protect your home’s plumbing.
- Locate and turn off the main water valve where it enters your home. For some homes, it may be in the crawl space.
- Open all the faucets in your home. Allow them to drain thoroughly. Leave them open.
- Flush all the toilets to drain tanks.
Draining the water will prevent your plumbing from freezing and bursting. When you return home, merely turn on the main water valve. Allow the water to run for a about a minute to clear any air and sediment from the lines then turn off the faucets.
Stay Warm and Safe During the Texas Big Chill
Though the scale of this crisis is alarming, it does help to identify unique planning problems with the Texas electric grid as well as reliability problems with Houston and Dallas electric utilities that need to be solved in the future. In the meantime, however, demand in the ERCOT region is so high that generators can’t keep up. ERCOT is continuing to request consumers to conserve energy in order to reduce demand further and help ensure everyone’s safe well being.
Learn more tips about conserving energy, how to shop electricity, and saving money at https://www.texaselectricityratings.com.