• 2019 Polar Vortex

  • Tips for safely heating your home during sub-zero temperatures with several inches of snow.

    Here's what Consumers Energy recommends:

    • Install an audible UL-listed carbon monoxide alarm, because poisonings from carbon monoxide are "most prevalent in the winter," when folks keep their furnaces on, while their doors and windows are shut.
    • Make sure furnaces are operating safely and efficiently by having them inspected yearly. 
    • During coldweather, replace furnace filters monthly — especially if you live with pets.
    • Keep flammable materials, such as clothing and boxes, away from your home's furnace.
    • Keep space heaters away from curtains, furniture, clothing and other flammable objects, and unplug space heaters before leaving the room or going to sleep. Never plug space heaters into power strips.
    • Do not use a stovetop, oven or charcoal grill to heat your home.
    • Do not use a generator inside your home, basement or garage. Keep generators outside, at least 25 feet from the home.

    To prevent frozen pipes:

    • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
    • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
    • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold-water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
    • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a costlier repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
    • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

    To thaw frozen pipes:

    • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
    • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
    • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
    • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.

    Residents who need assistance or guidance during the extreme cold are encouraged to call 211.

    Those struggling with energy bills or other needs can also call 211, a free service available in all Michigan counties that can provide resources, the company added. Consumers Energy customers can also call 800-477-5050 with questions about the company's payment options and assistance programs.

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