Sad broke poor person unable to pay electric bill suffering from cold in her own unheated home during winter

Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Staying warm while using less energy

Sad broke poor person unable to pay electric bill suffering from cold in her own unheated home during winter

Much of the country has been in the grip of a severe cold snap. Even southern states have been much colder than usual. This unfortunately leads to power outages, especially in areas not used to severe cold. These weather emergencies can cause unprecedented surges, and utilities often will ask people to reduce their energy consumption during these times to lower stress on the grid. 

We can all do our part to reduce energy usage while still staying warm. We can even save a few dollars in the process! Here are a few ways to keep warm. 

Of course, it goes without saying: turn down the thermostat. Turn it down to the mid-sixties. 

Layer with warm clothes and use regular blankets. You might think to use heated blankets and space heaters, but these are power hungry devices and can actually use more power than your central heat, which mainly runs on gas. Use large appliances like dish and clothes washers and dryers on off peak hours. 

Stay upstairs as much as possible. Heated air expands and loses density. So, upstairs will be warmer as the air rises. 

Look for the highest R value (resistance to heat flow) materials. Fleece, wool and flannel have microscopic air pockets that are poor conductors of heat thereby raising their R value. 

Cover your most vulnerable areas. You need to insulate, especially the parts of your body that are cold sensitive. Your feet are one of these body parts. Use thick slippers that cover your entire feet, they are better than just socks. Your head and neck are another place to cover up. You might not naturally think of wearing a hood inside, but a hooded fleece sweatshirt will keep you feeling warmer and more comfortable. Your hands  are also nerve rich like your feet and a thin pair of gloves can help too.

Watch out for cold parts of the house. Exterior walls, windows and cold floors can be as warm as 70 degrees but your body at 98.6 degrees radiates heat to these cold surfaces, making you feel cold in the process. Stay away from these cold surfaces as much as possible. 

So, we can all do our best to conserve energy during these times when the stress on our energy grids is high. We usually think of these problems during summer heat spells, but we need to understand the exact same problems can occur in the winter too. Ee don’t want you to have a heart attack when you open your energy bills!

Kathleen Weaver-Zech and Dean’s Team Chicago