POINCIANA – It’s not uncommon for power companies to issue press notices during the summer months, offering advice to homeowners on ways to save money – shutting off lights, raising the thermostat a few degrees, installing more energy-efficient light bulbs.

That’s not much of a surprise. In steamy hot Florida, power usage is at a maximum when the heat and humidity set in, and all those air conditioners running full volume puts a strain on energy suppliers.

But anyone who cringes when they get their electric bill in the summer months may have forgotten that Central Florida, for all those 90-degree days we suffer through in the summer, can still experience some suprisingly frigid temperatures during the winter. The fact that the cold weather set in earlier than usual this year, arriving by early December, may have caught some people off guard.

This owl-like thermostat shows a recent daytime high at 49 degrees -- surprisingly nippy for Orlando, even in December.

But it did prompt one local utility to issue a very un-Florida-like news release, urging people to take steps to protect their water pipes from … freezing.

In Florida?

Created in October 2003 by a special act of the Florida Legislature, Toho Water Authority is the largest provider of water, wastewater, and reclaimed water services in Osceola County, serving 80,000 water, 74,000 wastewater, and 10,000 reclaimed water customers in Kissimmee, Poinciana, and unincorporated areas of Osceola County.

Their advice to folks who think the cold means space heaters at night and extra blankets on the bed: don’t forget about the risks that freezing temperatures pose to your water pipes.

The news release was first sent out on Sunday, Dec. 12, in anticipation of temperatures falling into the high 20s overnight — although the advice could just as well apply to another cold spell headed into the region this weekend and into next week, bringing unseasonable nippy highs in the low 50s and overnight temperatures back into the 30s – at best. So much for Christmas in a t-shirt on the golf course.

“When temperatures drop below 30 degrees, water in exposed pipes, service lines, and backflow preventers may freeze,” Toho noted in its release. “The Authority recommends that all residential and commercial customers follow the steps below to minimize the inconvenience of frozen water pipes.”

As any resident of New England, the Midwest or the Mid-Atlantic who relocated to Florida knows, the advice sounds awfully familiar. In includes:

  • Wrapping exposed exterior pipes with old towels or plastic foam for insulation.

“Hardware or building supply stores will have pipe wrapping material available as well,” the authority notes.

Area residents often take care to cover their plants and trees during cold spells -- but may forget about the hose they left outside to water them with.

* Removing, draining, and storing hoses used outdoors.  

“When the weather is very cold outside, running water through pipes that are vulnerable to freezing – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing,” the release points out. “Ice might still form in the pipes, but an open faucet allows water to escape before the pressure builds to where a pipe can burst.”

  • Finally, making sure that everyone in your household knows where the main water shut-off value is located, just in case you wake up to find one of your pipes has burst.

Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.

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