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7 tips for protecting your home from the ‘damn cold’

20140106_CUBColdAlert_fbThe experts say Illinois is getting slammed by a “polar vortex,” a rotating pool of frigid air bringing dangerous, record-low temperatures and wind chills of up to 50 degrees below zero. But one Chicago native had a simple way of describing it: It’s “damn cold.”

The same energy efficiency tips that cut your utility bills also make your home comfortable and safe in an emergency like this. CUB’s consumer alert today gives 7 quick tips to deal with the “damn cold”:

Don’t take any risks. You don’t need to jack up your heat, but don’t keep it too low either. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends setting your thermostat no lower than 66 degrees. Don’t heat your home with your oven. If you use a space heater, place it on a hard, level surface; keep it away from flammable objects; and don’t leave it on overnight.

Don’t overwork your heating system. Concentrate on keeping comfortable the rooms you use the most. Close doors to other rooms. Close blinds as an extra layer of protection against icy night winds. But open them during the day so sunlight can help heat your home.

Reduce the drafts. This bitter cold is an opportunity to pinpoint the drafts in your home. Your hardware store can provide the materials to seal those leaks, but improvise if you have to over the next few days. For example, if you don’t have a door guard or sweep to block cold air under your front and back doors, use a rolled up towel.

Clear radiators, registers, air returns and baseboards of obstructions. Dust, rugs and furniture can block the heat and leave a room chilly. You can’t heat your home if the air isn’t circulating.

Clean or replace filters for a forced-air heating system. Now is a great time to check if it’s dirty.

Circulate the heat with the help of a ceiling fan. In the winter, run the fan clockwise (from your position, looking up at it) to pull warm air down from the ceiling. Turn off the fan when you leave the room.

Check on your neighbors. Times like these test communities. Check in on neighbors. CUB’s website has information on where Illinoisans can find a warming center near them. You can also call the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), at 1-800-843-6154, to find one of more than 100 warming centers across Illinois.

Read more of CUB’s winter tips, and please stay warm and safe!