How to Prepare for an Energy Blackout in Texas

As we know, this past Monday ERCOT issued a conservation alert to Texans. Citizens have been on edge about power shortages ever since The Great Texas Freeze of 2021 when over 6,000 people died within the week. With extreme levels of frost and heat, there’s no better time than now to learn the best ways to help prevent an energy blackout. However, your whole family should be aware of how to prepare for an energy blackout in Texas. 

Prevention

Set your thermostat 4 degrees higher

When you’re away from home for more than four hours, set your thermostat 4 degrees higher to prevent wasteful energy use and costs. 

Use blackout curtains and blinds

Blackout curtains and blinds will prevent sun rays from warming your home by up to 50 percent. This will lower the demand on your AC unit. Keep them closed as often as possible.

Set ceiling fans counterclockwise

Ceiling fans have a summer and winter mode. Do a once-over in your home to set all ceiling fans counterclockwise. This will conserve energy by pushing cool air down instead of drawing warm air upwards. This is one of the best ways to save energy and energy costs in the summer.

Weatherproof your home

Small leaks in your home can lead to a massive waste or energy and cost. Use a candle near a window and door frame to test for leaks. If the flame flickers, air is moving through the cracks. These can be plugged with weatherstripping or silicone caulk. 

Line dry clothes instead

Conserve energy with line drying your clothes. Install a drying rack in your laundry room, back porch, and kitchen to air dry clothing. You can use this for towels, outwear, and kitsch accessories along with everyday items. 

Cook and wash earlier in the day

Try to meal prep and wash dishes in the morning. Avoid using as much energy as possible during peak time (usually 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. here in Texas). Use the soak and rinse method when washing dishes instead of continually running hot water. Heat liquids in the microwave to reduce energy. Try cold dinners instead of hot dinners to help cool off after a long day. Check out these 30 Cold Dinner Ideas for Scorching Hot Nights

Preparation and Handling

The following are a few ways you can prepare for a blackout, as well as how to handle one. Make sure your entire family knows these safety tips this summer. Everyone should know how to prepare for an energy blackout in Texas. 

Know the signs of heat stroke and dehydration

Common signs of heat stroke are:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Loss of appetite and nausea 
  • Fast breathing
  • Cramps in arms, legs, and stomach

Common signs of dehydration are:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Dry mouth, lips, or eyes
  • Dark yellow and strong-smelling urine

If you notice signs of heat stroke or dehydration in yourself or someone else, try these five methods of cooling:

  • Hydrate with cool water, not cold water. Avoid sugary drinks for rehydration.
  • Immerse body in cool water
  • Mist body with cool water and lie under ceiling fan or near box fan
  • Cool down neck, back, groin, and/or arm pits with ice packs
  • For severe symptoms, call 911

Stock Pantry

Non-perishable dry foods are important during power outages. You’ll want to have items on-hand that last a while and require no cooking. Here is a list of some things to include in your power outage grocery list:

  • Peanut butter (a good source of protein that can be used in a variety of ways)
  • Tuna pouches (ready to eat source of protein)
  • Fruit cups (ready to eat source of nutrients)
  • Beef Jerky (ready to eat source of protein)
  • Trail Mix (variety of essential energy sources)
  • Cereal bars (variety of nutrients)

Store plenty of water

Water will be the more vital resource. Be sure to have plenty of filtered or bottled water on hand for everyone in your household. 

Take cold baths

Conserve your water by taking cold baths instead of hot showers. Not only will this help prevent an energy blackout in Texas, it will also help keep your body temperature low. 

Try not to open the refrigerator 

You will want to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible for as long as possible. Most cold foods will only last about 12 to 48 hours in the refrigerator during a power outage. A full refrigerator will stay cold longer than a half-full refrigerator. If the power outage may last longer than a day, buy coolers and bags of ice to transfer your cold items into. 

Use no-flame lighting

Using candles for a light source will bring unnecessary heat into your home. Use light sources powered by batteries, such as LED lights and flashlights. 

Create an at-home evaporative cooler

You can create a DIY evaporative cooler at home by hanging a wet cloth or towel vertically. Use a battery-operated fan behind it to blow air towards the room. The fan will cool the water and blow a breeze across the room. There are several methods to create an evaporative cooler at home. This is one of the best ways to prepare for an energy blackout in Texas, especially with small children and pets. 

Pin this page in case you may need it. Temperatures in Texas are expected to stay in the 100s for the foreseeable future. Prepare for the worst now to make the best of the situation later!

5 HVAC Tips for the Summer

Buying a new home is expensive. The last thing you want to do after finally closing, moving in, and unpacking is having to worry about the cost and maintenance of your HVAC system. Here are 5 HVAC tips for the summer to prepare your home in order to save you time and money.

Check your HVAC filter

When the filter has not been changed in awhile and is dirty the house will not cool like it is supposed to. This is the most common problem we see with a no-cool call.The easiest way you can prevent costly repairs on your HVAC system is by checking your filter and changing/cleaning it as needed. Build-up from dust and dirt on the filter can cause your unit to work harder than it needs to, which could potentially lead to breakdowns and repairs. 

This week is the perfect time to check your filter before temperatures rise for the summer. 

Some tell-tale signs you may need to check you filter are:

  • You don’t remember the last time you checked it (if you moved in recently, you might not have checked it at all yet). In the summer, it is recommended to check your filter every 90 days for a standard suburban home. However, if you have pets, you should consider changing your filter every 60 days to prevent allergens from building up.
  • You notice a spike in energy bills. A built-up HVAC filter will lower the efficiency of your system, leading to overuse and a high energy bill. While it might seem normal for your energy bills to rise in the summer, if a month seems abnormally high, it would be a good idea to check the filter. 
  • You find more dust near air vents than anywhere else in the house. A system with a filthy filter will be pushing dust, dirt, and allergens back into your house, covering surrounding areas in debris. 

Check Air Ducts and Vents

It is just as important as checking your filter as it is to check ducts and vents as well. If you notice that one room in the house is hotter than the others, this may be a sign that your system needs cleaning. 

If you have recently completed some remodeling or done major work inside your home, it is possible some debris has clogged your air ducts and vents. This could be a major factor in poor air flow and air quality.

Prevent HVAC breakdowns from overuse

The most common issue with HVAC systems are breakdowns from overuse. If you are a new homeowner, here are some life hacks you could implement to save your energy costs for years to come. 

  1. Install cooling window coverings: It’s pretty common to adorn your windows with some decorative curtains and blinds for privacy, but you take it a step further with black-out vinyl shades. Using effective window coverings can lower the temperature in your house by a few degrees for only the cost of installation. You could even do a combination of window shades and decorative drapes to match your home’s aesthetic. 
  2. Plant shade trees: a perhaps more unconventional way of giving your house some protection from the hot summer sun is planting some fast-growing shade trees near the windows of your home. 
    1. The first low maintenance option would be Hackberry trees. Not only are they beautiful, but they can withstand strong winds, survive in areas of only 14in to 60in of annual rainfall, and tolerate air pollution. Their beautiful leaves provide lots of shade and their hackberries can also be used as a natural pain remedy!
    2. Another option for shade trees is a Sun-Valley Maple. These trees provide amazing curb appeal to any home with its attractive oval growth shape. It also blooms stunning red flowers in the spring and the leaves turn bright red in the fall as well. This is a low maintenance tree that won’t produce seeds and is super easy to grow. 
  3. Improve insulation: If you just moved into an older home, it might be wise to check the insulation of attics, basements, and around windows. This is where your home will lose most of its heat, so it’s best to make sure these areas are properly insulated. 

Set ceiling fan counterclockwise

This might be the absolute easiest tip to keep your house cool this summer, but it is also most overlooked and forgotten about. The ceiling fans installed in your home should have two modes. There will be a winter setting and a summer setting. To keep your rooms cooler during the summer months, be sure all fans in your home are spinning counterclockwise. This will push the air down and create a cool breeze. 

Schedule Routine Maintenance

The best way to save money on AC costs and prevent a failing HVAC system is by scheduling routine maintenance. A licensed technician can examine your problem areas for you and take the guesswork out of the equation (and the stress out of your summer). 

Right now you can join the MVP program with Cody and Sons for only $398 per year. That’s roughly $33 per month that could save you on inspection fees, installation costs, and more. 

Congratulations, you just bought a new home! Take care of it correctly. Better yet, let Cody and Sons take care of it.