As the temperature outside drops, the City of Westminster urges you to ensure your home stays protected against the frigid weather. Due to the construction methods that houses in our area are built, water pipes in houses in southern climate often are more vulnerable to unusually cold weather. The pipes are more likely to be located in unprotected areas outside of the building insulation, such as attics and crawl spaces. Especially if these areas have open vents or cracks that allow cold outside air to flow across the pipes, these pipes would be more likely to freeze in the winter time. To prevent winter weather from destroying the pipes of your home, the City would like to provide you with some helpful hints on how to protect your home against the cold.

  • Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic. These exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing. Remember – the more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.
  • Heat tape or thermostatically-controlled heat cables can be used to wrap pipes. Be sure to use products approved by an independent testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., and only for the use intended (exterior or interior). Closely follow all manufacturers’ installation and operation instructions.
  • Consider closing foundation vents until temperatures exceed freezing, and seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes. Use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out and the heat in. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
  • Disconnect garden hoses and, if practical, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house. If your outside hose bib is not frost-free, then you will need to wrap the hose bib with newspapers or rags covered with plastic, fiberglass, or molded foam-insulating covers.
  • If you are leaving for the night or for a few days, set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F (12°C). Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it’s warm enough to prevent freezing or Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it will be deactivated when you shut off the water.
  • As a last resort a trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall. This is a waste of water and is not a permanent fix. Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.

If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber. If you detect that your water pipes have frozen and burst, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. (Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shut-off valve is and how to open and close it.) Remember to never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house. You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with the warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe. Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water because you could be electrocuted.

Of course water can freeze at 32 °F if fully exposed, but partially or poorly protected pipes can also freeze when temperatures drop to 20 °F or less.

You may qualify for financial assistance to weatherize your home. Learn more here.

If you experience any problems, or have any questions, please call the City at (846) 647-3200.

With temperatures beginning to rise, cooling season is just around the corner. The City wants to make sure that you have all the information you need to keep your cooling costs to a minimum. Cooling your home can be expensive but can be kept within your budget by following a few easy steps.

Change your air filter frequently

This is an easy task that will keep your system running efficiently. You should check your filter every month and change it at a minimum of every three months. This may need to be done more frequently during peak usage months. Failing to change your filter could cause your system to work harder to cool your home thus increasing your power consumption.

Ensure that your air ducts are sealed

Ensuring that all your ducts are properly sealed and insulated will also increase the efficiency of your cooling system. Insulating and sealing leaky airways can decrease your cooling cost by as much as 20 percent.

Use a Ceiling Fan

The use of a ceiling fan is an excellent way to reduce cooling costs while maintaining comfort levels. The “wind chill” effect allows the thermostat to be set at a higher temperature while maintaining comfort inside the home. An increase of just 2 degrees Fahrenheit can result in a reduction of up to 15% in energy use.

More often than not, when you use energy is just as much a factor – in cost and environmental impact – as how much you use.

Let us explain.

Power companies can’t make electricity, bottle it up and store it in a warehouse until you need it. It’s not idling in the walls of your home or business waiting for you to flip a switch.

By law, electricity has to be used as it’s generated. (Before you get upset, that’s a “Law of Physics,” not one passed in Columbia or Washington, DC.)

So, when more and more customers demand power, the more we have to generate. And the more expensive it gets – more equipment being used at more facilities by more employees. And the more we have to rely on traditional, carbon-based fuels, because the cleaner, renewable sources can’t handle the load yet.

On the flip side, when overall demand goes down, so does cost. As does the necessity to use carbon-based fuels. And everybody gets a break. You… in the wallet. The environment… everywhere.

We want to help you get the most affordable power possible.

Smart, right?

What are the advantages of Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs? Saving money and the environment can be as easy as changing a light bulb. If every American homeowner took a few seconds to replace just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR® qualified compact fluorescent, we would save:

  • Enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year
  • More than $600 million in annual energy costs
  • The equivalent greenhouse gas emissions of more than 800,000 cars.
    (Source: ENERGY STAR®)

A bright idea

Today’s CFLs are economically priced and provide high-quality, warm white light. Smaller and slimmer than earlier models, they can be used in a variety of fixtures such as chandeliers, ceiling fans, recessed lights and bathroom vanities. CFLs also work with dimmer switches and three-way lamps.


  • Provides the same amount of light as an ordinary bulb, but uses about 75 percent less energy
  • Generates approximately 75 percent less heat, cutting home cooling costs
  • Lasts up to 10 times longer than a standard incandescent bulb
  • Saves about $30 in energy costs over each bulb’s lifetime.
    (Source: ENERGY STAR®)

Watch your energy savings grow

By installing CFLs in your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures, you could save $65 or more per year in energy costs. And with the bulbs’ longer life spans, you can go for years without having to buy or change light bulbs.

Cleaner technology, greener world

A CFL may be small, but its environmental advantages are big. Because of its lower energy requirement, just one bulb can prevent more than 400 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime.

For best results

Get longer life and optimal savings from your CFLs with these tips:

  • Install them in the most frequently used areas of your home – typically the kitchen, living room, recreation room and outdoors.
  • Before using with a timer, check the lamp package, which will indicate if the CFL is compatible with electronic timers or photocells.
  • If using with a dimmer switch, select a bulb that is specifically designed for this purpose. Using a regular CFL with a dimmer may shorten bulb life.
  • To gain the most financial benefit, leave the CFL on for more than 15 minutes at a time. Frequent switching on and off will shorten the bulb’s life.
  • A CFL may generally be used in an enclosed fixture, as long as the enclosed fixture is not recessed.
  • Many CFLs can be used outdoors in enclosed fixtures. Check the lamp or the package to make sure it is approved for outdoor use, and verify the lowest recommended operating temperature.

CFL safety and disposal

It’s important to practice safe handling and correct disposal of CFLs. A very small amount of mercury inside the bulb is used to generate light – 99 percent less than an old mercury thermometer – and it is released only if the bulb is broken.

Follow these tips to prevent CFL breakage:

  • Always screw and unscrew the bulb by its base (not the glass), and never forcefully twist the CFL into a light socket.
  • If a CFL bulb should break, refer immediately to the Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) and Mercury fact sheet on the ENERGY STAR® Web site for safe handling.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that consumers take advantage of local recycling options for disposal of CFLs.

Check the Web sites below for the most up-to-date information on CFL disposal practices and collection facilities. The Home Depot now offers free CFL recycling! Simply bring any expired, unbroken CFL bulb to a Home Depot store for proper disposal.

For additional information on CFL recycling in your area, contact your municipal solid waste agency to find out about local collection programs. Many organizations are involved in the recycling of CFLs at the local and national level.