As the cold weather blankets our area this week, Kissimmee Utility Authority offers these tips for warmth, safety and energy conservation:
* Make sure any indoor heaters, like wood stoves or kerosene heaters, have adequate ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Likewise, make sure the flue of your fireplace is working properly. Never use outdoor grills in the house.
* Make sure you have adequate fuel on hand for supplementary heating sources, such as a fireplace, wood-burning stove or kerosene heater.
* Keep the thermostat on your heating system at the lowest comfortable setting.
* Use ceiling fans in winter to distribute heat around the room. Reverse the direction of the fan blades from that used for summer cooling.
* Check filters at least monthly and clean or change them as needed. Dirty filters can increase operating costs by 20 percent and can damage equipment.
* Caulk any space around windows and other places where air leaks to prevent cold drafts and heat escape.
* Use exhaust fans sparingly in winter. Heat and moisture from bathing and cooking contribute heat to your home. Don’t, however, use the oven to heat a room.
* If your home has a fireplace, be sure the damper fits tightly, and close it when the fireplace is not in use. Add a glass fireplace screen.
* Cover bare floors. Carpeting adds to comfort and heat retention, especially if there is little or no floor insulation.
* If possible, remove window air conditioning units in winter. Otherwise, install an inexpensive air conditioner cover to stop drafts coming through the vents.
* Use insulated or heavy curtains on windows facing the north side of the house. Keep curtains and shades closed at night and on cloudy days.
* For heat pump users, set the thermostat to a constant setting and leave it there, and make sure drapes and furniture are not blocking air registers or returns.
* Keep at least one battery-powered flashlight where it can be located easily in the dark. Listen for weather updates on a battery-powered radio. Keep an extra supply of fresh batteries.
* Stay away from downed power lines. Keep pets and children away from them as well. Always assume downed lines are energized.
* If you use a generator, always follow the manufacturer’s directions. KUA recommends hooking appliances directly to the generator, using properly sized extension cords. If you hook your generator directly into your home’s electrical system, turn off your home’s main circuit breaker to avoid stray voltage from going out on power lines and endangering KUA crews.