No doubt everyone is feeling the extreme weather we are experiencing these days.
The guy who plows my driveway is very happy right now because he has not had the opportunity to use his plow for several years, he says.
The mechanic who fixes my car is happy because he has a steady stream of customers who, like me, waited until the last minute to get their vehicles tuned up for the winter. Tow trucks are definitely busy, and the car rental companies are struggling to keep up with the demand.
Heating and electric utility companies undoubtedly will experience a sharp increase in their profits as the temperatures drop well below anything we have experienced over the past few years.
Needless to say, the news is filled with traffic tragedies that have resulted from low visibility, slick pavement and potholes, and deaths from hypothermia are on the rise.
A “polar vortex” and the arrival of “solar cooling” this year sends chills up and down my spine, and the explanations of these phenomena don’t make me feel any better.
All I know is that the cost of keeping our homes warm and comfortable is hurting everybody’s wallets. Are we prepared?
Already this winter, we at Thornton Township are experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of families requesting assistance with their utility bills. Many families have to make a choice between paying their water bill or electric or heating gas bills — not enough income to pay all three.
You might be surprised at how many families are living without running water. They had to make a choice, and their only relief is that the gas and electric companies can’t disconnect after the temperature drops below a certain point.
I predict a massive disconnect action in the spring, not to mention the flooding that will occur.
We are trying to assist families as much as we can by referring them to Salvation Army or Catholic Charities or CEDA, but there are just not enough funds to meet the need.
Back in the winter of 2012, Thornton Township began responding to the energy bill crisis by installing plastic on windows and doing what we can to eliminate drafts from leaky doors for seniors and disabled residents. This service has been an extremely cost-effective way to drastically reduce heating costs and make homes more comfortable in the winter as well as the summer. It costs about $100 to do this kind of winterization for an average home, and residents have reported that their heating costs have been cut in half or more.
Meanwhile, we are looking for more funding to continue winterizing homes. Local service organizations and individuals can help us continue this valuable service by making donations to Thornton Township's winterization program. Call me at (708) 596-6040, ext. 2001, for more information.