Keeping Your Home Warm In The Bitter Cold - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Keeping Your Home Warm In The Bitter Cold

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     With so many bitterly cold and blustery days we've had recently it might have you thinking about options if you were to lose heat. Heating experts answer the questions you have on keeping your home warm in the extreme cold. 

     On a night like Tuesday tonight, seeing your thermostat unable to keep up can be scary. But whether your furnace goes out, you lose electricity altogether, or you're just trying to keep your house at a comfortable temperature, experts say there are some common practices that are good ones to live by and others you might want to avoid.

     "It's been a lot of years since we've had temperatures like this for a sustained amount of time," said Kevin Lesthaeghe, Director of HVAC at Schebler Heating and Air in Bettendorf.
      If a furnace goes out, how long will your house sustain the heat to stay safely warm? The answer: it largely depends on the age of your home.

      "A newer home could go a day or two before you'd actually start seeing drastic drop in temperatures. Older homes you can see it happen in matter of hours," added Lesthaeghe.

      If you have a fireplace is it a myth that more heat escapes than is produced in the home? The answer: fireplaces are a little bit of give and take.

     "A wood burning fireplace will allow a lot of heat to escape because you have a natural draft on the chimney itself."

     What about space heaters? Some high-efficiency ones can heat up 1,000 square feet in the house which is enough to get you by on, but don't leave them unattended. Experts say they've had a lot of homeowners call recently, thinking their furnace isn't working. But one common mistake when it's this cold is turning the thermostat up if it seems you're not getting enough heat out of it.

     "Keep it the same, turn it down a couple degrees because equipment is sized in this area for a certain temperature. Once you hit that temperature, usually -4, they're designed to run nonstop," said Lesthaeghe. IIn many cases the furnace is doing as much as it can.

     What about adjusting your thermostat when no one is home. Does it really help for saving energy? The answer: experts don't recommend turning it down more than a couple degrees.

     "If you turn it down much more than that all the energy you've saved while the furnace wasn't running you're now spending that energy to bring the house back up."

      Closing off registers in rooms you don't use may also be a catch 22.  "If you close off those registers that room gets cool. You're interior walls are not insulated so that cool is going to go into other places in the house."

     MidAmerican Energy also has these tips:
     - Keep an emergency preparedness kit with things like a flashlight, nonperishable food, bottled water and batteries.
     - If you lose electricity, check fuses or circuit breakers first and then call your energy company to report the outage. 
     - Dress in plenty of layers. 
     - Place blankets and towels around windows and doors to help keep the heat inside.    
     - Protect your pipes by wrapping with insulation and let faucets drip to avoid freezing.