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Product Deep Dive: Owens Corning Insulation

Insulation is essential in the energy discussion, and can save you a lot of money on your energy costs. Particularly since Texas gets extreme weather in the winter and in the summer, proper insulation can trap heat in your home – even if your power is cut off – and will also keep your home cool in the summer – even during triple-digit days.

Insulation isn’t exactly one of the sexier topics in the Home Improvement industry since you’ll hopefully almost never see it, however I can’t stress it’s importance enough in keeping your house, well, insulated! If you decide you’re interested in allowing us to conduct a site survey, and hearing a quote, please check out the Owens Corning website and provide a free quote upon a site inspection – https://www.owenscorning.com/en-us/insulation/residential.

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Survival Tips from Texans Weathering the Storm

We’re through the worst of the storm it seems, though the residual effects are still impacting some Texans – like energy blackouts and water outages. I would love to tell you that part is almost over too, but the truth is that I really don’t know how much longer these systems will be down. So in the meantime, I’d like to share with you a few survival tips from those who have dealt with this sort of thing before, and a few ways in which Texans have creatively problem-solved while we tackle the aftermath of this storm:

Now since each of us is impacted differently by the winter storm, I’d like to share few tips for thriving in these conditions – particularly since we’re still not sure when the water will come back on. Here are a few tips from a former Peace Corps volunteer on not just surviving but thriving without running tap water or electricity:

  • Brushing your teeth: make sure your toothbrush is able to dry fully between each use to cut down on bacteria growth – when you’re brushing your teeth it’s fine to use non-potable water since the toothpaste will kill the bacteria in your mouth. For kids who may still by used to swallowing the toothpaste, use clean drinking water to brush your teeth, but remember to rinse your mouth out and use that water to clean your toothbrush before pouring clean water on the brush to clean it off, and then wait until it dries to use it again.
  • Taking a shower: there are a couple of options to clean your body when you have no running water – either a bucket bath or a solar shower should to the trick! Add some water to the stove to boil using snow from your back yard, then add that water to a bucket along with a little more snow until you reach a desired temperature. Then use a small bowl to pour the warm snow melt on your body, lather up, and then again use the small bowl to wash off the soap (best to do this in a shower or in a room with proper drainage). Alternatively, you can also create a solar shower by hanging a black bag of water/snow in a nearby tree – wait for the sun to heat up the water – once it’s warm, you can poke a small hole in the bag to let the water shower you as you rinse off (keep in mind you might need to rinse off quickly! Or make sure to have a little more warm water on standby). 
  • Washing dishes: this trick I actually learned in the girl scouts, however it helped me significantly in the Peace Corps as well – heat up a batch of water and plug up one side of your sink. Then, rinse off your dishes and add them to the sink (you’ll want to try and keep this water as clean as possible, so remove as much debris as you can before adding dishes to it). In a separate container (or plug up the other side of your sink), add water but do not add soap. Now you’ve got your dish cleaning station ready – simply wash/scrub the dishes in the soapy water, dip them into the non-soapy water to rinse them off, and lay them out to air-dry. Note: you will need to make sure they’re completely dry before using so the bacteria from the water is killed first). 
  • Staying Warm (without Power): the most obvious choice here is to wear layers! While this may not be intuitive, it’s actually better to wear layers with alternating tightness – one close fit layer, with one loose-fit layer, followed by another tight layer – since this traps body heat between each layer and allows you to stay warm. Additionally, it might be time to break out those camping supplies like your sleeping bag or other cold-weather gear since your usual comforter might not supply enough heat in freezing temperatures.
  • Light: of course you can use things like flashlights and candles to light your way at night, however did you know you can also use things like Crisco or animal fat as a back-up candle for heat and light? Simply add a wick (if you have hemp-wick), or a small, dry stick to a jar of Crisco, and you’ll have a candle that will burn for days! Just be sure to blow it out before you go to sleep.
  • Entertainment: now perhaps with all these survival methodologies you’ll be too tired to even think about having fun, but it’s a very important part of thriving and can be particularly important when all else seems lost! So it’s time to break out the books, a deck of cards, or board games – or, even break out your hand-held radio for a dance party! If you have a car, you can even get warm and have some fun by sitting in the car and playing the radio – just make sure you’re in an open area because you don’t want to risk carbon monoxide poisoning!

Whatever conditions you’re in, just know that someone is always available to help. This guide will help you survive if you decide to tough it out at home, however if your house is below freezing for more than 48 hours, or if you’ve run out of snow-melt and no longer have water, don’t be afraid to ask for help!

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What To Do If Your Pipes Burst

Hopefully none of you will need this advice, but given what we’ve seen so far during this Texas snowstorm, it’s likely some of you will – check out the following links for what to do to prevent your pipes from freezing/bursting in this weather, and what to do if your pipes do break!

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Snow on your Solar Panels

For some odd reason, Texas has decided to really show out this year and give us not just one, but three or four possible days of snow! While in years past this knowledge may have seemed irrelevant for us down here in the lone star state, this year we will need to equip ourselves with hats and gloves and new skills to deal with sub-freezing temperatures. The good news is that your solar panel production should remain largely unimpaired by the snow, according to Simpleray, and since Iowa gets more snow than Texas annually, I will defer to their better judgment on the subject: https://www.simpleray.com/resources-and-informations/solar-panels-after-snowstorm. The short story is that due to the heat produced by the silicone tiles, and the angle at which they’re installed on your rooftop (or in a ground-mounted system), snow should melt off of them relatively quickly, and even if it stays for a few days, winter days are not as important for solar production as summer days, which we all know will be here before we know it! So go out there and have some fun – or stay inside and enjoy the warmth – but whatever you do, don’t worry about your solar panels. The snow will melt soon enough, and that Texas summer heat will be here to make up the difference in your energy production.

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Heating for One: Why so Expensive?

While I would love to explore the intricate and highly complex details of heating, it’s safe to say that this article does a much better job of explaining the ins and outs of storing heat indoors than I ever could, so please give it a read:

The cheapest, most efficient way to heat your home this winter, By Stephen Marcus Monday 21 December 2020

https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/is-it-more-energy-efficient-to-leave-the-heating-on.html

The biggest takeaways I get from the article, are that most homes in the US use centralized heating, but all types of heating will lose heat in the wintertime – through heat transfers within the heating process, or simply by escaping through the front/back door/walls/floorboards. The best way to prevent this is by having good insulation to keep heat trapped indoors longer, and if your house uses thermostatic radiator valves, you’re likely ahead of the game in terms of energy efficiency. The article also provides some excellent tips for cutting energy use, from the best types of insulation to use in your home and where to add it to make the most impact, to adding a lid to boiling water so it will come to a boil more quickly and therefore use less energy (https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/120-ways-to-save-energy.html), to investing in thermal solar panels which turn energy directly into heat!

It’s important to note that until we can all afford to move to things like thermal solar panels, we will be somewhat reliant on fossil fuels to heat our homes – so the question becomes, how can we waste less? The possibilities are limitless. What are some of your favorite techniques for saving money in the wintertime? Please share them here, or give us a call today if you would like to discuss the insulation and heating system in your home!

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