What bitter cold temperatures mean for homeowners

HARTFORD --  Connecticut residents are facing bitter cold temperatures and subzero winds the week between Christmas and New Year’s forcing many to scramble to keep their homes heated.

“The phones have been ringing off the hook,” Ron Trinks, owner of Trinks Brothers Oil Company in Manchester said.

He went on to say, “We’re getting inundated with calls. New people trying to sign up, all our customers are calling, trying to get their tanks topped off, they’re nervous and I don’t blame them, you know, you want a full tank when it gets like this.”

Trinks had all six of his oil trucks out Wednesday, each making roughly 30 deliveries throughout the day to keep up with the demand. He warned homeowners against waiting until they’re forced to need a same-day delivery, which comes with an extra cost.

“I can’t stress this enough but people have to go down and check their oil level in their tank, even if you’re on an automatic program, go down and check your tank. Make sure you’ve got a half a tank, quarter of a tank and when it gets to a quarter, it’s time to order,” Trinks said.

The bitter cold can also raise a homeowner’s risk of frozen pipes.

“When the pipe freezes what happens is the ice makes that pipe expand and when it expands it splits,” Jeff Gerber of Homestead Fuel Inc. explained.

He added, “When the ice starts to thaw, then all your water in your heating system will come out. Water comes through the sheet rock and we have a mess.”

Gerber said low temperatures mixed with wind raises the risk of frozen pipes.

“When we get these subzero temperatures and we get a little bit of a breeze if there’s a leak anywhere in somebody’s home that breeze, the wind will help that cold air penetrate the home,” he said.

He advises homeowners take preventive measures, such as insulating water pipes that are near the outside wall of the home. He also suggested that when homeowners leave for the day, they should keep their thermostat up to around the same temperature they have it on while they are home.

He said this is especially important if you are leaving for a weekend getaway, or several day’s vacation.

Gerber also recommends homeowners get a home energy consultation to make sure any air leaks in your home are sealed off.