Precautions advised when using heatings units

By Thomas Garcia: PNT staff writer

Lingering cold weather in Curry and Roosevelt counties has prompted residents to turn up the heat.

Temperatures have taken a steady dive due to the combination of recent rainfall and overcast conditions. Tuesday’s high in Roosevelt and Curry counties was 45 degrees, according to Annette Mokry, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. The normal high for this time of year is 77 degrees, she said.

The solution to this cold weather seems easy enough, tossing a log in the fireplace or cranking up the thermostat.

However, there are some precautionary measures that residents could take to avoid complications, costly repairs or even injury.

Phyllis Bryant, co-owner of Clovis-based, Claiborne Refrigeration Co., said the minute the temperature begins to drastically drop the number of service calls rises.

Bryant said one of the services provided by the company is a winter checkup for gas appliances. The checkup includes looking for leaks, CO2 detection and proper ventilation, Bryant said.

“It is always a good idea to have a professional check your unit each year,” Bryant said. “If the unit is not operating properly, there is a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Fireplaces and space heaters are cranked up this time of year.

When using a fireplace it is always important to check that the chimney is clear of obstructions, said Allan Roberts, manager of Trader Horns True Value in Portales. Always keep combustible objects away from open flames and space heaters, he said.

Another alternative is pellet stoves, which Roberts said are becoming increasingly popular because they are automated and can be controlled by the thermostat.

The prices for pellet stoves vary based on size and features.

A pellet stove uses about four tons of wood pellets to heat a 2,000 square-foot home for a year, or less than $1,200 not counting delivery costs, according to an Associated Press report.

Heating tips:

• Install a programmable thermostat and set it to lower the temperature at night and whenever the house is unoccupied. Lowering your thermostat by 10 degrees at night can reduce your heating bill by 10 to 20 percent.

• Lower your thermostat and wear socks and a sweater indoors. Lowering the thermostat by just one degree Fahrenheit can reduce energy use by 3 percent.

• If you have a forced air furnace, inspect your filters at the beginning of the heating season and monthly during the season. Clean or replace them if there is significant dust build up.

• Get a humidifier to add moisture to the air. The air inside your home can be very dry, especially in New Mexico. Moister air feels warmer, so a humidifier can help you feel comfortable even though your thermostat is set at a lower temperature.

• Install foam insulation gaskets behind electric outlets and switch plate covers.

Source: PNM