Calgary is experiencing one of the coldest starts to December in the last 100+ years. With such extreme temperatures becoming the norm, you shouldn’t forget to prepare your business’ utilities and infrastructure. A properly prepared business will be able to tackle the winter and even save on costs! Our latest blog post outlines how your business can better prepare for the challenge of extreme winter weather so that you don’t have to worry about any productivity loss or potential repair costs.
Why Should You Prepare Your Utilities
During the harsh winter months, utilities are often hit hard. This is further pushed by extreme weather conditions like blizzards or freeze-snaps that can bring temperatures below -30 c in some regions. With such temperatures, your utilities will be pushed to the limits as it tries to keep up. Unprecedented winter storms can cost utility companies and governments billions of dollars if they are improperly prepared for such an event. By establishing a well maintained and functional utilities set-up at your business, you can potentially save yourself from spending more than you’re prepared for!
Did You Know?
During the winter months, utility bills always see a dramatic rise. This is mostly due to heat being used for longer and more intensely.
Most businesses will find that their heating is responsible for at least 40% of their total utility bill, especially if natural gas is used. Thanks to skyrocketing prices in the oil industry, utility companies are raising their prices to compensate. Don’t let this be you! With some adjustments to daily life and adaptation to heat usage, you can start saving on unnecessary costs without sacrificing comfort.
How To Prepare:
Prepare for Power Outages
Powerlines are at risk during extreme weather such as heavy rainfall or snow. Even regular weather can pose a risk of power failure if your powerlines are improperly maintained. In the case of a power outage, you don’t want your operations to suffer. Consider investing in a power generator as a starting point. Your business can also benefit from having contingency plans in place for any power outages that may occur. Considering the fact that business is conducted using electronic devices, your staff should be prepared for any disconnections or service interruptions.
For more information on how to prepare for a power outage, check out our previous blog post here.
You’ll want to ask local authorities to trim any obstructing trees due to the risk they pose when placed near powerlines. Regular maintenance can prevent branches from falling onto power lines and causing avoidable power outages.
If your business happens to be in a remote area or somewhere that is difficult to access, it’s a good idea to keep yourself stocked with emergency supplies in case of extreme weather. If a power outage were to occur, you’ll want to ensure that your staff are kept safe and comfortable, especially during extreme temperatures. Stock up on heating blankets, portable heaters, road salt/sand, and non-perishable foods. With enough emergency supplies, you can comfortably ride out extreme weather outages or even snow-ins much easier.
Prevent Freezing Pipes
Frozen pipes can cause catastrophic damage to buildings. When pipes burst it can cause downtime for your business’ operations and cost an exorbitant amount to fix. Unheated pipes are the most at risk of freezing during winter, so it’s best to take the following steps to ensure such an event does not occur:
- Insulate your pipes located on the exterior of your building or in unheated spaces.
- Drain any unused piping before the temperature starts (e.g. hoses)
- Indoor areas with sprinklers should maintain a minimum temperature of 4.4 degrees Celsius.
- Use automatic temperature monitoring systems to better keep track of high risk areas.
These methods can all be employed at a relatively low cost to your business while saving thousands in avoidable costs. Be sure to have a professional inspect your pipes regularly to detect any malfunctions or high-risk areas so that you can address them before they get out of hand.
Clear Your Meters
When heavy snowfall occurs, it’s important to ensure that your utility meters do not get buried. While most meters are designed to withstand winter weather, any hard packed snow can pose a safety hazard. Your utility meter has a regulator which also has a pressure release vent that should always be cleared. Heavy snow on your meter piping will also cause increased stress and eventually damage which can lead to a gas leak. Ensure proper maintenance and inspections are done for your meter, either by an authority or a hired service. If you receive snow clearing services from a third party, be sure to show them where your meter is located so they do not pack snow onto it by mistake. If snow has accumulated on your meter, be sure to brush it off lightly or contact your utility provider for assistance. It is important to note that during an emergency, emergency response crews will need access to your meter as well, so having it covered in snow is not ideal. On top of regular meter maintenance, you should also keep any additional furnace vent pipes, fireplace vents, water heaters, and dryer vents cleared of snow and debris.
The Cost of Preparation.
These are just some of the ways your business can prepare its utilities for winter. As always, we recommend hiring a professional service to audit your utility expenses to ensure your rates are competitive and to detect any billing errors. The cost of preparation is low and the savings are high! Another form of preparation is education, and Watchdog Management Services has prepared a blog post outlining ways for businesses to better understand their utility bills here.
You can also ask a professional of what your business can do to help mitigate utility costs if you’re finding it difficult to do so yourself.
We hope these tips help your business flourish during the cold winter months. While extreme weather can be challenging for everyone involved, we believe that with proper maintenance, preparedness, and education, you can better protect yourself from the unexpected.