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Prevent Frozen Water Lines During Extreme Cold

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

ASHEVILLE NC – Temperatures over the next few days are expected to drop into exceptionally cold ranges, with forecasts calling for lows below zero degrees. Conditions like these present the risk of frozen water pipes.

Throughout the winter weather event, Asheville Water Resources staff will be available 24 hours a day for water related emergencies, leaks, breaks and no water calls. Customers can call (828) 251-1122 to report any water emergencies.

Residents can reduce the risk of frozen or burst water pipes in their homes by:

·        Disconnecting and draining all garden hoses and installing covers on outside faucets

·        Keeping garage or basement doors closed if there are water lines running through them

·        Opening kitchen and bathroom doors to allow heat to circulate around the plumbing

·        Wrapping pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or heating tape

·        Opening a cold water tap in the sink to let water run at a trickle and allowing water to move through pipes

If you suspect your water may be frozen at the meter, you can call the number above to have a meter technician check on it.

The City of Asheville continues to address the impact of winter storm events, clearing sidewalks adjacent to city-owned property and salting and sanding roads. However, at temperatures below 5 degrees, materials used to thaw ice are less effective. Drivers and pedestrians alike are advised to use extreme caution and not travel unless it is absolutely necessary.

This and other weather updates can be found at ashevillenc.gov.

January and February Events at Chimney Rock State Park

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – Winter is the perfect season to explore all Chimney Rock has to offer; from catching miles of views to seeing which birds are nesting here during the colder months, learning how to identify trees without their leaves to kicking off the New Year with an invigorating hike, there’s no need to suffer from cabin fever during these chilly days!

JANUARY EVENTS

HNF half frozen cropFirst Day Hikes
Date/Time: Thursday, January 1; 1pm hike at Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park, 3pm hike at Rumbling Bald
Location: 1:00pm hike meet at Hickory Nut Falls trail; 3pm hike meet at Tunnel Entrance at 2:30pm for shuttle to Rumbling Bald. Shuttle will return to the Park at 4:30pm.

Description: Did you make a 2015 resolution to exercise more? Get off to a great start with an inspiring hike at Chimney Rock State Park, and see what makes winter the perfect time to explore our area. First, discover the beauty of the Hickory Nut Falls trail at Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. Afterward, catch a shuttle at the Tunnel Entrance for a hike at Rumbling Bald, where you’ll be treated to views of Lake Lure and see the progress being made as State Parks works to reroute this trail. Be sure to bring water and wear comfortable hiking shoes. Both hikes will be led by a Park naturalist or State Park Ranger and are considered moderately difficult.
Cost: Included with Park admission

Naturalist Niche: Winter Birding
Date/Time: Saturday, January 17; 10:30am-12pm
Location: Meet at Tunnel Entrance
Description:  Not all of our feathered friends fly south for the winter! Colder months are an excellent time for birding; leafless trees and open viewsheds provide ample opportunity to observe birds that don’t mind chilly temperatures. Grab your binoculars and a field guide and join a Park naturalist to see which birds have stuck close to Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park for the winter season.
Cost: $22 Adult (includes Park admission), $7 Annual Passholder, $12 Youth (ages 5-15), $5 Grady’s Kids Club Member

FEBRUARY EVENTS

Grady sweet potato10th Annual Grady’s Groundhog Day
Date/Time: Monday February 2; 10:30 – 12:00
Location: Meadows
Description: Last year, Grady saw his shadow, correctly predicting six more weeks of winter. Will he be right again this year? Join our furry Park mascot on Groundhog’s Day to find out! Kids’ crafts will be offered; you can make it a day of fun for the whole family by rounding it all out with a hike to the top of Chimney Rock or down the Hickory Nut Falls trail.
Cost: Free with Park admission

PROMO: Valentine’s Day Special: Buy 1, Get 1 Free

Date/Time: February 13-15

Description: What better way to show your sweetheart some love than by bringing him or her to see beautiful, 75-mile views from the top of Chimney Rock? (Hint – we’ve had quite a few proposals on the Rock over the years; Valentine’s Day might be your day!) Download the special coupon from our website. Coupon must be presented to the Ticket Plaza at the time of purchase. Valid February 13-15, 2015, if Park is open.

Naturalist Niche: Winter Tree ID
Date/Time: February 21; 10:30am-12:30pm
Location: Meet at Grady’s Animal Discovery Den
Description: Think leaves are the only way to identify trees? Think again! Local naturalist Ron Lance leads this guided hike where he’ll explain how to use twigs, bark and buds to identify trees. Hike will be moderately difficult.
Cost: $22 Adult (includes Park admission), $7 Annual Passholder, $12 Youth (ages 5-15), $5 Grady’s Kids Club Member

 

 

 

 

Winter at Biltmore through March 19, 2014

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC- In the early months of the year, Biltmore offers a peaceful retreat following the hectic pace of the holidays. Winter specials include lowest admission of the year, beginning at $39 purchased seven days or more in advance online or over the phone. Tickets include a free audio guide of Biltmore House and kids 9 and younger also get in free with an adult admission.

Biltmore Blooms – March 20 through May 23, 2014

Biltmore’s gardens are alive with color as spring arrives. Stunning floral displays – featuring nearly 100,000 tulips – across the estate celebrate the majesty of Frederick Law Olmsted’s legacy as Biltmore’s master horticulture planner.  Biltmore’s restaurants will feature special menu items, with the Winery offering wine seminars.

Easter Egg Hunt – April 20, 2014

The Easter Rabbit makes his annual appearance on Biltmore’s Front Lawn on Easter Sunday. Highlighting the day are the grand Easter Egg Hunts at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m.  Children ages 2 to 9 may attend the hunt for free when accompanied by an estate pass holder or a ticketed adult.

Moveable Feast – May 23, 2014

Take in beautiful views of the estate and enjoy an exquisite meal designed and prepared by Chef Kirk Fiore. Surrounded by beautiful blooms, this dinner will take place outside in our historic Walled Garden. A 6:30 reception will be followed by dinner at 7:15.   Tickets are $160 per person and include tax and gratuity. For reservations call (828) 257-5995.

18th annual Biltmore Concert Series – Selected dates

Biltmore House and the Blue Ridge Mountains serve as backdrop for amazing musical experiences during Biltmore’s annual concert series. Concerts take place on the South Terrace of Biltmore House. The concert line-up will be announced in spring 2014.

40th annual Christmas at Biltmore – Nov. 7 through Jan. 11, 2015

Holidays arrive at America’s largest home in style.  More than a century ago, George Vanderbilt chose this magical season as the time to unveil his new home to family and friends.  This year’s Christmas at Biltmore promises another extravagant celebration, complete with dozens of Christmas trees, miles of ribbon, garland and lights.

31st annual Candlelight Evenings at Biltmore – Nov. 7 through Jan. 3, 2015

Candlelight and firelight accent Biltmore House’s extravagant holiday décor during these nighttime tours. The house glows, appearing much as it would have at the turn of the 19th century. Candlelight Christmas Evenings include a self-guided candlelight tour of Biltmore House, next-day visit to the gardens, Antler Hill Village and Biltmore Winery.

“The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad” Exhibition – Open daily

“The Vanderbilts at Home and Abroad” focuses on the lives and personalities of George, Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt. This close-up look at exotic and rare items the family collected throughout their lives features an extraordinary collection of Samurai armor, and a display detailing the fateful decision that saved the Vanderbilts from perishing on Titanic.

Birds Implement Multiple Techniques to Survive Winter

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

ASHEVILLE NC – From food consumption to feather adjustments and shivering, birds use a variety of techniques to stay warm during winter.

Food is the most essential element, providing birds with the energy, stamina and nutrition they need. To stay warm, birds will expend energy very quickly, some losing up to 10% of their body weight on extremely cold nights. An ample supply of high-calorie foods, such as black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet can be crucial to a bird’s survival.

“We can play a vital role during cold conditions,” said Chris Jaquette, owner of the Asheville Wild Birds Unlimited in Gerber Village. “At these times, a reliable supply of food can mean the difference between life and death for a bird.”

Most birds will also keep warm by adjusting their feathers to create air pockets.

“You will often notice the birds look fatter or ‘puffed up’ during cold weather,” explained Chris Jaquette. “This is because the birds are fluffing up their feathers; the more air space, the better the insulation.”

Staying warm is not all about food and feathers, though. Some birds perch on one leg at a time, drawing the free leg to their chest for warmth. Most birds will shiver to convert muscular energy into heat for the short term, but the energy must be replenished shortly thereafter.

While birds are equipped to withstand most winter weather, survival can be made easier by providing food, a heated, open source of water and protection from the elements with natural plant cover or a roosting box.

The Asheville Wild Birds Unlimited, located in Gerber Village on Hendersonville Road, is part of the original and largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores with more than 275 locations throughout the United States and Canada. Wild Birds Unlimited specializes in bringing people and nature together with bird feeding and nature products, expert advice and educational events. Visit our Web site at www.asheville.wbu.com.

Portable Space Heaters – Are They Safe?

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

ASHEVILLE NC – Many individuals use a small space heater if their main heating system is inadequate or if just one room of the home is cold. Space heaters have several fuel sources to choose from including electricity, propane, natural gas and kerosene. Their capacity usually ranges between 10,000 Btu to 40,000 Btu per hour.

Convection or Radiant Heat?

Portable HeaterWondering what the difference between a convection and radiant heat is? Convection heaters circulate the air in a room to raise the temperature. In other words, they heat the entire room.

Radiant heaters emit infrared radiation that heats up objects and people that are directly in front of it. Radiant heaters are a more efficient choice if you will only be in a room for a few hours and you can remain in front of it. Keep in mind that a radiant heater does not heat the entire room.

Vented and Unvented (Vent-free) Combustion Space Heaters

Unvented combustion units are not recommended for use inside your home. They introduce unwanted combustion products in the living area, including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and water vapor. Keep in mind that most states have banned unvented kerosene heaters for use in homes and at least five have banned the use of unvented natural gas heaters.

Vented units are designed to have a flue gas vent permanently installed through a ceiling or directly through the wall to the outside. Look for sealed combustion or “100% outdoor air” units, which have a duct to bring outside air into the combustion chamber. Sealed combustion heaters are safer to operate than other types of space heaters and will operate more efficiently because they don’t draw in the heated air from the room and exhaust it outdoors.

Less expensive and less efficient units use the room air for combustion. They do not have a sealed glass front to keep room air away from the fire and should not be confused with a sealed combustion heater.

In addition to the installation and operating instructions from the manufacturer, follow the general safety guidelines for operating any combustion space heater:

  • For liquid-fueled heaters, use only the approved fuel. Never use gasoline. Follow the manufacturer’s fueling instructions. Never fill a heater that is still hot. Do not overfill the heater since you must allow for the expansion of the liquid. Use appropriate containers for the fuel and store fuel outdoors.
  • Have vented space heaters professionally inspected every year. If the heater is not vented properly, not vented at all, or if the vent is blocked, separated, rusted, or corroded, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can enter the home causing sickness or death. Carbon Monoxide can be produced if the heater is not properly set up and adjusted for the type of gas used and the altitude at which it is installed.

Electric Space Heaters

Electric space heaters are generally more expensive to operate than combustion space heaters, but they are the only unvented space heaters that are safe to operate inside your home. They don’t have the indoor air quality concerns but there are other safety hazards to remember since they can cause burns and fires.

For convection (non-radiant) space heaters, the best types incorporate a heat transfer liquid, such as oil, that is heated by an electric element. The heat transfer fluid provides some heat storage, allowing the heater to cycle less and to provide a more constant heat source.

When buying and installing an electric space heater, you should follow these general guidelines:

  • Electric heaters should be plugged directly into the wall outlet. If you must use an extension cord, use a heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger.
  • For portable electric heaters, buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch. The unit will automatically turn off when the heater is tipped over.

Safety

When using a space heater it is important to remember safety. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, causing more than 300 deaths.

When buying and installing a small space heater, follow the guidelines below:

  • Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater has the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label attached to it.
  • To avoid the energy wasted when a room is overheated, choose a thermostatically controlled heater.
  • Use the sizing table provided with the product to determine the proper size for the room. Do not purchase oversized heaters.
  • Place the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Extra caution needs to be used to keep children and pets away from a heater.

For additional information on space heaters, contact Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.

Source: U.S. DOE- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Enjoy the Great Indoors this Winter at Biltmore

Monday, January 9th, 2012

ASHEVILLE NC – Colorful treasures in Biltmore House, the Conservatory and Legacy Building offset winter’s chill – winter is value season at Biltmore!  Instead of allowing that post-holiday cooped-up feeling give way to a long winter’s nap, refresh and warm up with a tour through the great indoors at Biltmore.

In the winter months Biltmore House offers a warm escape into a bygone era replete with rare artwork and inspiring architectural details. January through March is typically a quiet time on the estate, giving guests time to discover all the extra touches throughout the home and elsewhere on the property.

Biltmore House, a veritable treasure chest, awaits exploration. George Vanderbilt created his home as a retreat for his friends and family, as well as a place to enjoy the art and antiques he collected in his world travels. The collection includes six works by American portrait artist John Singer Sargent, two masterpieces by French Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Napoleon’s chess set, and Ming Dynasty fish bowls.

After exploring the House, head to the Conservatory, a soaring greenhouse designed by Richard Morris Hunt, architect of Biltmore House. The Conservatory – possibly one of the warmest spots in western North Carolina during winter – is filled with thousands of tropical plants, and Biltmore’s expansive orchid display.

Dart into the Legacy Building in Antler Hill Village to catch the last days of Tiffany at Biltmore, an in-depth look at Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) and the work of Tiffany Studios. Closing Jan. 31, the exhibition features 45 stained-glass lamps in a stunning array of colors, sizes and decorative styles.

Winter is value season at Biltmore
Now through March, Biltmore offers its best values of the year.

  • Estate admission begins at $35. Purchase online or by phone at least seven days in advance of visit, www.biltmore.com or 800-411-3812.
  • Admission includes a complimentary audio guide of Biltmore House, featuring stories of the Vanderbilts’ lives in America’s largest home.
  • For a limited time only, additional rooms in Biltmore House will be included in admission.
  • Children 16 and younger are admitted free with an adult admission.
  • The Inn on Biltmore Estate is offering a number of wintertime specials, including midweek rates starting at $129 and weekends at $159 in January. See http://www.biltmore.com/stay/rates/default.asp for more details.

About Biltmore
Located in Asheville, North Carolina, Biltmore was the vision of George W. Vanderbilt. Designed by Richard Morris Hunt, America’s largest home is a 250-room French Renaissance chateau, exhibiting the Vanderbilt family’s original collection of furnishings, art and antiques. Biltmore estate encompasses more than 8,000 acres including renowned gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture. Today, Biltmore has grown to include Antler Hill Village, which features the award-winning Winery and Antler Hill Farm; the four-star Inn on Biltmore Estate; Equestrian Center; numerous restaurants; event and meeting venues; BiltmoreFor Your Home, the company’s licensed products division; and Biltmore Inspirations, Biltmore’s home party business. To learn more about Biltmore, go to www.biltmore.com or call 877-BILTMORE.

 

Find out more about Asheville things to do and Asheville events this winter season.

Time to Prepare for Winter Weather

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

ASHEVILLE NC – Buncombe County has enjoyed some beautiful fall weather over the last few weeks so it may be hard to imagine that winter weather will soon be here. Now is the time for us to begin preparing for snow, ice and strong winds. It’s important for us to prepare because winter weather can cause power outages that result in loss of heat, water and communications to our homes and businesses.

Preparing for winter storms is very similar to preparing for other emergencies like hurricanes or floods, with the addition of a few cold-weather supplies. Follow the three steps below now so that you and your family will be ready for whatever situation this winter brings.

Step 1: Get a Kit

  • Get an Emergency Supply Kit which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries.
  • Thoroughly check and update your family’s Emergency Supply Kitbefore winter approaches and add the following supplies in preparation for winter weather:
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.
    • Sand to improve traction
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
    • Also include adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.

Step 2: Make a Plan: Prepare Your Family

  • Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
  • It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
  • You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.
  • Take a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class from your local Citizen Corps chapter. Keep your training current.

Step 3: Be Informed: Prepare Your Home

  • Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and windowsills to keep the warm air inside.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
  • Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural stability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow – or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
  • If you have a car, fill the gas tank in case you have to leave. In addition, check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
    • Antifreeze levels – ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
    • Battery and ignition system – should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
    • Brakes – check for wear and fluid levels.
    • Exhaust system – check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
    • Fuel and air filters – replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas.
    • Heater and defroster – ensure they work properly.
    • Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for serviceability.
    • Oil – check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
    • Thermostat – ensure it works properly.
    • Tires – make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions.
    • Windshield wiper equipment – repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
    • For more information Preparing Your Car for Winter

Additional resources

Tips for Saving Energy this Fall and Winter

Monday, November 7th, 2011

ASHEVILLE NC – With winter setting in across the nation, the Environmental Protection Agency encourages Americans to continue to take action to save energy and cut heating costs this winter:

  • Maintain heating equipment: Dirt and neglect are the main causes of heating system failure, so be sure to maintain your equipment. Now is a good time to schedule a pre-season checkup of your heating equipment with a licensed contractor to make sure your system is operating at peak performance. Check your system’s air filter every month and when it is dirty, change it. At a minimum change it every 3 months.
  • Use a programmable thermostat: Regulate your home’s temperature while you’re away or asleep by using one of the convenient pre-programmed settings on a programmable thermostat. When used properly, programmable thermostats can save you up to $180 every year in energy costs.
  • Seal air leaks in your home: Sealing air leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a significant impact on improving your comfort and reducing energy bills. If you are adding insulation to your home, be sure to seal air leaks first, to ensure you get the best performance from your insulation.
  • Utilize the ENERGY STAR Website: Use ENERGY STAR’s Home Energy Yardstick to compare your home’s energy use to similar homes across the country and see how your home measures up. ENERGY STAR’s Home Energy Advisor can give recommendations for energy-saving home improvements for typical homes in your area.
  • Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products: Whether you are replacing light bulbs or appliances in your home, ENERGY STAR qualified products can help you save energy and reduce energy bills. The label can be found on more than 60 types of products ranging from heating and cooling equipment to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).