Winter's Coming: How You Can Prepare
Can you believe it’s October already? Soon, the colder weather will be causing us to add layers, shut up windows, and stoke the home fires. But aside from making yourself comfortable, there are a few things you should do to safeguard your home and family from the icy hand of Old Man Winter.
El Niño aftermath
Early 2016 brought one of the strongest El Niños on record. El Niño is the name of a weather pattern caused by unseasonably warm waters that come up from the South Pacific and affect wind patterns across the U.S. After El Niño runs its course, however, there is often a cold front that comes through called La Niña.
These weather patterns point to extremes in temperature and humidity which can make your winter, well, memorable.
Stay warm and safe this winter
When you think about your lifestyle, it’s easy to see what steps you should take to make your winter more enjoyable and comfortable no matter what the skies throw your way. Follow these three steps to winterize your home and your family:
Wrap your windows. Covering your windows is a great way to keep your home toasty and work to reduce your utility bills (win, win!). Glass panes inherently lose indoor heat to the colder outdoors, so this easy step lets your heater work just a little bit less to keep you warm.
How to: Install storm windows, buy some heavier curtains, OR follow these step-by-step instructions on how to install window coverings.
Winterize your vehicle. No one wants to get stranded on the side of the road during a winter storm. So it’s important that you prepare your car for any weather you may encounter. Keep your gas tank full and assemble an emergency kit just in case.
How to: A great rule to follow is never to let your gas gauge drop below ½ a tank. For your emergency kit, be sure to grab some extra clothing and blankets (don’t forget extra socks!), food and water, a flashlight, a first aid kit, medications, batteries, a cell phone charger, and some sand, rock salt, or non-clumping kitty litter to make things a little less slippery.
Prepare your pipes. Frozen pipes in the winter can not only cause a major home repair headache, but they can be pretty dangerous too. Take steps while it’s still mild outside to keep your pipes safe from winter’s wrath.
How to: Drain any water lines that feed to outdoor sources, like your hose and sprinkler system. Insulate any water lines located in unheated areas. Using a pipe sleeve, “heat tape” or “heat cable” on any exposed pipes can do wonders. If you go away for an extended period of time, leave your heat set to no less than 55 degrees and consider letting faucets trickle just a bit.
Natural Gas Efficiency is Always Improving
Necessity is the mother of invention, this is certainly true in the energy industry. As technology changes and becomes even more intertwined throughout our lives (think, every smart device in our homes and businesses), we are becoming more and more dependent on electricity. This increase in demand for power is challenging the industry to come up with newer, more efficient ways of generating electricity for the marketplace—and because over 33% of electricity in the US is generated by natural gas – is pushing natural gas to do more as a generator fuel.
The Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) is one of these necessity-driven inventions. A CCGT can run at higher efficiencies—up to 50% more—than traditional natural gas-powered generators. It’s using the same fuel, but new technology has made it over 60% more efficient for generating electricity, even when at full capacity. Basically, the CCGT allows us get more power for our natural gas buck – and we can keep all of those smart devices charged!
What's Your Energy Type?
Ever wonder what kind of rate you should get when shopping for electricity or natural gas? Or maybe you didn’t realize you had a choice when it came to your energy supply. Either way, this quick quiz will help you discover what rate is the best for your personality.
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- The Three Gorges Dam in China is currently the world’s largest power station clocking in at 22,500 MW.
- English polymath Thomas Young (1773-1829) was the first to use the word “energy” in its current sense, replacing the traditional term vis viva, meaning “living force”.
- Famous portrait painter, Rembrandt Peale, founded the first natural gas utility in 1816 after using natural gas to light an exhibit at his museum and gallery.
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