Preparing to Keep the Heat On As Temps Continue to Plummet
Furnaces and space heaters are working overtime to keep our homes and offices warm. With even more dangerously cold temperatures in the near future, power companies and furnace mechanics are prepared to jump into action to keep the heat on.
Ronnie Zirbel has been fixing furnaces for nine years with Bay Area Services, this last month has been one of his busiest.
"The colder it is outside the more your furnace is going to run, because the more heat your house is losing. So the furnaces try to compensate for that loss. The more heat that goes out the more heat you gotta add to it," says Zirbel.
Furnaces need electricity to start the fire but it's natural gas that fuels the flames.
With the already bitter cold temperatures about to get colder Wisconsin Public Service says gas lines will feel the extra usage.
"It's gonna affect, the natural gas lines are gonna be pushed because people are going to be using more natural gas," says Lisa Prunty with Wisconsin Public Service.
But they have been anticipating the cold and say they are prepared for the surge.
"We are calling in extra natural gas engineers and mechanics for Monday morning because we know that it's going to be cold and between the hours of 6 and 8 in this area we see our largest usage of natural gas," says Prunty.
They will be monitoring pressure in the lines to make sure the gas keeps flowing, so the furnace can keep on burning.
"In colder weather like this if your furnace goes out you can probably expect it to drop 4 or 5 degrees an hour," says Zirbel.
So if your thermostat says 70 degrees when you leave for work in the morning and you lose electricity, gas or your furnace goes out. It could be 30 or 40 degrees by the time you get home eight hours later.
Which is why Zirbel will be watching his phone over the next few days.
"I was planning on going fishing this weekend but now I'm just going to stay home and wait for the calls to come in," he says.
WPS doesn't expect any electricity issues unless the cold temps bring ice, "or if we have some high winds branches could break off and hit the lines,' says Prunty.
But they have crews on standby, just in case.
"We want to make sure if there are any issues ,we want to make sure our crews are ready to get out there and get it fixed efficiently and safely so that people can again stay warm because its going to be cold," says Prunty.