One word I’ve heard more this week than I ever cared to is weatherization. According to several articles, if the Texas energy grid had just been “weatherized” prior to the storm last week, several people in the state would have had power and water during the coldest week in 30 years, and a few more might even still be alive. So what even is weatherization/winterization and why is it so important? You can look this word up on Webster’s dictionary and you will find that it essentially means “preparing for winter”, which I’m sure comes as no surprise, however it also is not very helpful if you really want to understand what the process entails.
Thus, here is a quick link which explains winterization in your home: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-to-winterize-plumbing-pipes-844862; another on winterizing large equipment: https://www.macallister.com/winterizing-equipment/; and here is an easy 234-page read on best practices for weatherization in the Midwest: https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/06/f32/Midwest_Wx_Best_Practices_May_2007.pdf. In case you’re not an ERCOT board member, or a politician in charge of regulating the energy industry, here’s a slightly shorter article on weatherization and how to prevent frozen gas pipes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/thebakersinstitute/2021/02/19/winterization-and-the-texas-blackout-fail-to-prepare-prepare-to-fail/?sh=3de8c087c838 – and please find the graphic within which shows how temperature can affect the flow of gas in a pipeline:
It’s safe to say this process is not simple, it is time consuming, and can be costly – however, as I’ve come to learn this week, it is also essential. Texas does not often have winter storms that bring snow or last for longer than a day at a time – at the end of last year I was joking that Santa usually wore shorts in Texas, and that while I knew all of the words to “White Christmas” I had never actually seen one. I think after last week’s debacle, weatherization may become something we start to familiarize ourselves with in the future. It is certainly something I hope my elected and appointed officials familiarize themselves with now, as climate change could potentially exacerbate this problem.