With parts of the country seeing record-setting chilly temperatures — including in places where coats and gloves are rarely needed — power operators and the National Weather Service have been offering tips for how people can conserve energy and stay warm at home, with or without power.
Tim Burke, president and chief executive officer of the Omaha Public Power District, asked his 300,000 residential customers to conserve energy by lowering their thermostat a few degrees, turning off any unused lights, postponing laundry and dishwashing, and unplugging devices that are not currently being used.
In a video announcing planned power outages, he showed that his office thermostat was set to 55 degrees and that there were “no lights on in our offices.”
The National Weather Service in Kansas City, Mo., also shared ways that people can avoid losing heat. They included placing rolled-up towels at the base of exterior doors or stuffing rags in cracks under the doors.
Closing curtains and blinds can also keep heat inside, the Weather Service said.
Residents should also “move all activities to a main room and close the remaining interior doors to retain heat,” the agency said, adding that residents should wear layers of loosefitting and lightweight warm clothing, and have extra clothing layers handy.
To stay warm at home, the Weather Service advises people to light their fireplace, if they have one, and use indoor-safe heaters.
The authorities also warned against running generators or cars inside to heat homes because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
In Houston, the police said a woman and girl were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning and a man and a boy were hospitalized after a car had been left running in an attached garage “to create heat as the power is out.”
The police department advised that “cars, grills and generators should not be used in or near a building.”
The Houston Office of Emergency Management also urged people not to warm up their cars inside a garage and to make sure the tail pipe was clear.
Eating and drinking also warms up the body, but avoid caffeine and alcohol, the Weather Service said. If you have to leave your residence, experts suggest exiting through a garage or porch door to reduce the loss of indoor heat.
In Texas, advisories to boil water were sent to residents across the state, asking them to conserve as much water as they can.