The official first day of winter is Dec. 21. It is called the Winter Solstice. It is the day of the year with the least amount of sunlight.
With the onslaught of winter, West Columbia Fire Chief Marquis Solomon said it is a good idea to take precautions to make sure your home is safe.
Below are some of Chief Solomon’s recommendations:
- If you use a stand-alone heater make sure the fuel you are using is the correct fuel so that the heater is not combustible;
- Place electric heaters, or any heater, a safe distance away (at least three feet) from anything flammable;
- Remove all clutter that could catch fire.
Make sure your Christmas is merry, too, by practicing safety. Each year, the Electrical Safety Foundation launches a national safety awareness campaign to encourage families and communities across the country to Make Safety a Tradition of the Holiday season.
Below are some safety tips from the ESF:
- Keep decorations at least three feet away from heat sources, including fireplaces and candles. Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Don’t run cords under rugs or furniture, out of windows, or across walkways and sidewalks.
- Water your natural Christmas tree so it doesn’t dry up and become flammable
- Turn off your decorations when you leave your home and when you’re sleeping. Most deadly fires happen while people are asleep.
- Extension cords are a common cause of home fires. Use as few as possible.
- Overheated electronics under pillows and blanket could start a fire
- Have a working smoke alarm in each bedroom and on every level, and test smoke alarms to make sure they’re working.
- Switch off space heaters before leaving the room. It only takes seconds for a fire to start if a space heater tips over or comes in contact with something combustible, like a blanket or curtains.
- Inspect your decorations and discard any that are damaged or worn out.
Energy efficiency in the winter
Dominion Energy is providing tips to help customers be more energy efficient while they continue to enjoy the warmth and comfort of natural gas.
“Cooler temperatures have arrived, and many customers are spending more time at home and using natural gas to keep warm,” said Felicia Howard, vice president of gas operations for Dominion Energy South Carolina. “Something as simple as replacing air filters or installing weather stripping around windows and doors can make a big difference when it comes to managing energy use and energy costs.”
Customers can manage heating costs without sacrificing warmth:
- Begin with the thermostat. Set the thermostat to a comfortable 68 degrees during the day and lower while sleeping or when away from home. A programmable or smart thermostat can automatically lower the temperature to maximize savings.
- Layer up. Consider wearing comfortable, cozy clothing and extra layers for additional warmth.
- Check doors and windows for drafts. Caulk around windows and replace old weather stripping around doors to keep cold air out.
- Replace air filters regularly. Dirty air filters can increase energy usage, damage the heating system and compromise air quality. Experts recommend changing air filters monthly.
- Let the light in. On sunny days, open curtains on sun-facing windows to allow sunlight to naturally heat the home. Close them at night to reduce any drafts.
- Measure attic insulation. Ensure insulation is at least 12 inches deep. Add more insulation (R-38 or higher) if needed.
- Customers who cook with natural gas can save energy while making their favorite dishes:
- Preheat for 10 minutes. Only preheat a natural gas oven when necessary or for approximately 10 minutes. Preheating for any longer only wastes natural gas and will not preheat any faster.
- Avoid opening the oven. Every time the door of an oven is opened, more natural gas is used to replace the heat lost.
- Cover dishes. Cover pots, pans and casserole dishes as much as possible to reduce cooking time and natural gas use.
- Cook an entire meal in the oven. Save energy by cooking multiple dishes in the oven to minimize the amount of time needed to have the heat on.
With the cold weather in West Columbia, practice good winter habits so you can be safe and comfortable too.