It's about to get very cold in North Central Washington, and the Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) is offering a wealth of tips to help residents stay warm and safe during the snap.

"Chelan County uses the most energy when it's the coldest outside," says PUD spokesperson, Rachel Hansen. "Believe it or not, forty percent of your residential energy use is all about heating."

The PUD is recommending the following actions to keep your home well insulated from the winter:

- Use Door Socks: Place blankets or towels by the door to prevent the cold air from drafting in and the heat from escaping.

- Close the Shades: Close your drapes to retain heat. If it’s sunny during the day, open the drapes to capture warmth from the sun.

- Improve Air Flow: Replace your air filter. Clogged filters make your heating system less efficient. Keep doors open in your house (unless you have baseboards or other zonal heat).

- Remove AC Units: If you still have an AC unit in your window, remove it and close the window.

- Dress Warm: Put on your thermal underwear and a thick pair of socks, and use an extra blanket on the bed. It’s all less expensive than turning up the heat.

- Close the Damper: Fireplaces are designed to move heat quickly up the chimney. When you’re not using it, keep it closed so it doesn’t suck the heat out of your home.

- Lower Your Water Heater Temperature: Keep your water heater temperature at 125 degrees to conserve energy.

- Close Foundation Vents: If your vents don’t close, taping a piece of plastic on the outside will help considerably.

The PUD is also offering these tips to keep your pipes from freezing when it's extremely cold:

- Allow the hot and cold water at an inside faucet to drip continuously to keep the water moving.

- Check the water shut-off valve in your home to make sure it works.

- Open cupboard doors under sinks, especially when plumbing is located within outside walls, to let interior heat warm the pipes.

- Insulate hot and cold pipes in unheated areas, such as the garage, crawl space or attic.

Hansen says the likelihood of power outages also increases the colder it gets.

"You've got to keep in mind that the electrical grid is working twice as hard when it's cold to keep everyone warm. So as the demand for electricity increases, so does the stress that's placed on some of our equipment."

If the power does go out, the PUD recommends taking the following actions:

- Leave Only One Light On: Turn off all of your lights except one, on the porch or inside where it can be seen from the street – so you and PUD crews know when power is restored.

- Prevent Cold-Load Pickup: When power is restored after an outage, sometimes increased demand can overload the system and result in subsequent outage. For the first two hours after power is restored, keep the use of non-heating appliances to a minimum.

- Avoid Unsafe Devices: Never use fuel-burning devices, like gasoline-powered generators, camp stoves and lanterns, or charcoal grills inside your home, or in any confined space, or within 10 feet of windows, doors, or other air intakes. Using these items in your home can produce carbon monoxide, which can be deadly.

- Use Portable Generators Safely: If you plan to use a portable generator, make sure you plug appliances directly into the generator. Or, make sure your home is disconnected from the PUD’s electric system with a transfer switch installed by a licensed electrician.

- Check Outage Statuses: If the power goes out, check for updates on Chelan PUD’s outage map by clicking here. If you don’t see an outage on the map, call the 24/7 outage line at 877-783-8123 to report it.

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