Backing up Your Business for Winter
As winter approaches, businesses must make preparations that go beyond holiday decorations and festive cheer. You’ll want to take proper steps to safeguard your operation during the cold season. Without the right backup supplies and power measures, you could find yourself without power, losing revenue and risking your employees’ safety. Understanding how to prepare for power outages in winter will help you get everything you need to keep your business warm, safe and functional during the colder months.
How Winter Weather Can Affect Your Business
Winter weather can significantly impact your business, and one of the most disruptive winter issues is power outages. As snow and ice storms roll in, they bring the potential for electrical blackouts. To avoid getting stuck in the dark, you need to mitigate the risk of power outages. Some potential issues winter weather poses for your company include:
- Revenue loss: When the power goes out, companies often have to close their doors, resulting in an immediate revenue loss. Revenue losses can be incredibly challenging during the holiday season when many small businesses depend on increased sales. A preparedness plan can help minimize these losses, ensuring you have backup systems in place to protect your company.
- Inventory loss: Winter storms can lead to unexpected inventory losses due to power outages. Perishable goods can spoil, and sensitive equipment may be damaged if not adequately protected. Investing in protective measures can safeguard your inventory.
- Employee productivity: Power outages can halt daily operations, making it impossible for employees to work. Lost productivity can quickly add up, impacting your bottom line.
- Customer trust: Repeated power outages can erode customer trust. Customers may seek alternatives that consistently meet their needs, and your business may suffer long-term damage to its reputation. Communicate with customers about your preparedness efforts so they understand you’re doing everything possible to minimize disruptions.
- Safety concerns: Winter power outages can lead to safety hazards, especially if your company relies on heating systems or other equipment that poses risks without electricity. Develop safety protocols and ensure employees are trained to handle these situations to protect your operation.
How to Keep Your Building Warm and Functional During Winter
If a strong winter storm is coming, you want to ensure you have everything you need to keep your business warm and working. Being prepared will keep you comfortable all winter, whether there’s heavy snow or an overly cold season.
Invest in a quality backup generator. Start by researching available options to make the best choice for your company. You want to make sure the generator can adequately power your operation easily. Picking the right generator requires considering fuel types, power needs and even your generator location. Investing in a generator that can power your lighting, heating and other critical equipment will allow you to stay up and running during winter power outages.
Once you have a backup generator, you need to winterize it before the cold weather hits. Taking proper measures will help protect your generator from damage and ensure it will run when you need it most. With a backup generator or backup emergency power system, you can keep all your essential systems operational and heat your space. You should also have quality insulation measures in place to keep all that heat in and reduce strain on your emergency power system.
What to Stock up When Preparing for Winter
Getting your company ready for winter means stocking up on the right supplies. With everything you need on hand, you can reduce losses, protect employees and even keep your operation up and running during a winter outage. If you want to make a significant difference in your ability to weather winter storms, here’s a list of items you should consider stocking:
- Fuel for backup generators: Ensure you have an adequate fuel supply for your backup generators. These generators are crucial during power outages, helping to maintain essential operations and keep the lights on. You want to avoid running out of fuel, so always have more fuel in case you need it. In certain cases, you want to make sure you have a steady delivery of diesel fuel or adequately stored on site.
- De-icing materials: Stock up on de-icing materials like rock salt, calcium chloride or sand. These materials can help prevent icy entryways, parking lots and walkways. Adequate coverage will help reduce accidents and encourage the snow to melt faster. Ensure your de-icing materials comply with your area’s regulations, as some chemicals are not always recommended for specific areas and walkway materials.
- Emergency lighting: Have a supply of flashlights and batteries available for employees. Ensure these are accessible in key areas of your business.
- Heating fuels: If your company uses heating systems that rely on fuels like natural gas, heating oil or propane, ensure you have enough reserves to last through extended periods of extreme cold and power outage or a steady delivery.
- Snow removal equipment: Invest in snow shovels, snow blowers or snowplow services to clear walkways, entries and parking lots quickly after snowfall. Swift snow removal minimizes business disruptions.
- Safety traction mats: Safety mats with traction can prevent slip and fall accidents on icy surfaces. They’ll help people keep their balance as they walk in front of and into your business.
- Battery banks: Backup battery banks can be essential for powering critical devices like phones and computers during power outages.
How to Retain Heat and Power
Maintaining heat and power is a critical aspect of your business operation. Power outages and heat loss can disrupt productivity and pose safety risks. To ensure your company retains heat and power effectively, consider using these strategies:
- Backup power systems: Invest in backup power solutions like generators. These systems provide a seamless transition when the primary power source fails, ensuring the continuous operation of essential equipment and heating systems.
- Energy-efficient heating systems: Upgrade to energy-efficient heating systems that use less energy to maintain a comfortable indoor environment. If possible in your location, consider options like geothermal heat pumps. Otherwise, you can look into high-efficiency furnaces.
- Sealing and insulation: Properly seal any gaps and insulate your building to prevent heat loss. This includes insulating walls, roofs and windows. Regularly inspect for cracks, leaks and drafts, and address them promptly.
- Programmable thermostats: Install programmable thermostats that allow you to adjust the temperature based on occupancy and time of day. This can lead to substantial energy savings without sacrificing comfort.
- Emergency response plan: Develop an emergency response plan that outlines how to address power outages and heating system failures. Ensure employees know what to do in emergencies, including turning off non-essential equipment to conserve power.
- Regular maintenance: Schedule maintenance for heating systems and power equipment to ensure they’re in optimal condition, reducing the likelihood of failures during critical periods.
- Alternative heating sources: Consider installing alternative heating sources like propane heaters. These can be a valuable backup during power outages or heating system failures.
- Energy-efficient lighting: Upgrade to energy-efficient lighting, like LED bulbs, to reduce power consumption. Consider installing motion-activated lighting to conserve energy automatically when spaces are unoccupied.
- Energy audits: Conduct energy audits to identify areas where your energy efficiency could be improved. This might involve retrofitting buildings with better insulation and windows or upgrading to more efficient HVAC systems.
- Battery backup systems: For critical equipment and data centers, invest in battery backup systems that can provide a short-term power source during outages. These systems can bridge the gap until backup generators kick in.
Winter Preparation Checklist
Winter can be harsh on buildings, leading to energy inefficiency, damage, power outages and safety hazards. Proper winterization is crucial to ensure your facility remains comfortable, functional and safe during the cold months. Use this checklist to help you prepare your building for winter:
1. Roof Inspection
A thorough roof inspection is essential for identifying potential issues before they become major problems during the winter. Check for damaged or missing shingles, which can allow water to seep into your building. Inspect for leaks and cracks in the roof, especially around vents and chimneys, and ensure the flashing is in good condition, as it’s crucial for preventing leaks.
Regular roof maintenance is essential for extending your roof’s life span. Clear gutters and downspouts of debris — blockages can lead to ice dams, which can cause water to back up under your shingles, resulting in leaks and roof damage. Additionally, leaks can build up over time, leading to significant roof damage and even holes when the heavy snow sits on the roof for extended periods.
2. Insulation Assessment
Proper insulation is key to maintaining a warm and energy-efficient building during the winter. Check the insulation in walls, attics and crawl spaces. If you notice any insulation is damaged or deteriorating, consider adding more. Good insulation prevents heat loss, lowers energy costs and keeps your building comfortable.
Additionally, ensure your building is properly sealed. Look for gaps and cracks in walls, windows and doors, as these areas can be sources of drafts and heat loss. Seal these openings with caulk or weatherstripping to keep the cold air out and the warm air in.
3. Heating System Maintenance
Your heating system is the heart of your winter comfort, so it’s crucial to have it maintained by a professional. An efficient heating system keeps your building warm and reduces energy costs while extending your equipment’s life span. During maintenance, the technician will clean and inspect all components, change air filters and ensure the system is functioning at its peak. Don’t wait until the middle of winter to have this done — schedule it in advance to avoid any unexpected heating issues.
4. Emergency Power
Invest in a quality backup generator to protect your business during winter power outages. Generators ensure your essential equipment, heating systems and lighting remain operational even when your primary power source fails. Regularly test your backup power equipment to ensure it’s in working order, and consider having a backup fuel supply on hand to keep your generator going. You should also schedule regular generator maintenance to keep your generator in good condition.
5. Window and Door Maintenance
Well-maintained windows and doors are essential for keeping the cold air out during the winter. Replace any damaged weatherstripping to create an airtight seal. If your building has older windows, consider upgrading to more energy-efficient options. Thermal curtains or window film can also enhance insulation and reduce drafts. You should also inspect and maintain exterior doors, ensuring they close tightly and seal properly. Cold air will try to sneak in during the winter, so keeping everything sealed will reduce costs.
6. Pipe Insulation
Frozen pipes are a common issue during winter, and they can lead to costly damage. To prevent freezing, insulate any exposed water pipes. This is especially important for pipes located in unheated areas, like basements or crawlspaces. If your heating goes out during extremely cold weather, leave any faucets dripping slowly to keep water flowing and prevent your pipes from freezing.
7. Snow and Ice Removal
Professional snow and ice removal services are essential for keeping your building’s surroundings accessible during winter. Snow and ice can create slip-and-fall hazards for employees and customers. It’s crucial to clear walkways, parking lots and entrances promptly after snowfall. Stock up on de-icing materials like salt or sand to prevent icy patches and provide safer pathways. The faster you clear snow and ice, the safer your building will be.
8. Employee Training
Proper employee training is essential for winter preparedness. Educate your staff on winter safety procedures, emphasizing the importance of reporting hazards, navigating icy walkways and responding to power outages or heating system failures. Encourage energy conservation practices and stress the connection between energy-saving efforts and cost reduction. Conduct fire drills adapted to winter conditions, and ensure employees are well-versed in evacuation procedures.
In case of emergencies:
- Make sure some employees are trained in basic first aid and CPR.
- Assign clear roles and responsibilities for different emergency scenarios.
- Regularly review and update emergency procedures to keep employees informed.
- Establish a communication plan for weather-related updates and information sharing during remote work.
9. Emergency Supplies
Equipping your building with essential emergency supplies is crucial. Maintain a stock of flashlights with batteries, blankets, non-perishable food items and a fully stocked first aid kit. Provide portable space heaters for temporary heating and train employees in their safe use. Include emergency contact information, communication devices, whistles and water. These measures enhance employee safety and create a culture of preparedness, ensuring a swift and coordinated response to winter challenges.
Take Control of Your Business’s Winter Preparedness With Woodstock Power
When winter hits, you want your business to be ready for anything. If you want to ensure your company has power during harsh storms, then Woodstock Power is your trusted partner for reliable generators. Our commercial- and industrial-grade generators provide peace of mind during winter and beyond. With Woodstock Power, you can secure a backup power solution tailored to meet your company’s or clients’ needs.
Don’t let winter weather disrupt your operations — keep your business powered with dependable generators from Woodstock Power. Explore your options, or contact us today with any questions!