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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — February 2021 went down as one of the coldest Februarys in Kansas City weather history.

The effects of that deep freeze were not only felt here in the Midwest, but throughout the southern United States, slowing down and crippling infrastructure.

While rolling blackouts and shutdowns became part of the narrative, what will this winter have in store?

A blast of Arctic air swept through the middle of the country in February, sending our high temperatures way down into the single digits for four days in a row. Records were set for overnight low temperatures during that time.

In fact, southern states really saw the brunt of the freeze. States like Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and more all saw record overnight lows in the single digits or below zero, bursting pipes and knocking out power to millions.

In the Kansas City area, Evergy tried to coax customers to conserve energy as much as possible, seeing that the available power generation wasn’t going to meet the demand.

But it wasn’t enough. Days later, Evergy started rolling blackouts among customers.

“Unfortunately, we did have brief periods, all over two days, where we had interruptions to customers. Overall, we had about 325,000 who were affected,” said Gina Penzig, spokesperson for Evergy.

Looking ahead to this upcoming winter, are we more prepared this year than last?

“A lot of the shortage was within the Southwest Power Pool … Some of the things they’ve started to do is look at making sure the transmission system is robust enough to get energy where it’s needed throughout the area,” Penzig said. “It’s making sure that, if there are new lines needed, they’re being built. If there are lines that need to be upgraded, they’re being upgraded.”

Local gas company Spire was also affected by the winter blast as natural gas refineries in the South were taken offline for a few days.

Luckily, natural gas impacts to our part of the country were very minimal at the most.

“It tested our system. It tested our capability, but our systems stayed strong during that entire time,” said Stephen Mills, vice president of Spire. “We’ve come to be relied upon, to be an affordable and safe natural gas distribution company, and we proved it during that time.”

So this winter, consider these tips that both Evergy and Spire recommend to make your electricity and gas usage more efficient.

  • During the day, open your curtains, blinds, etc. to allow sunlight to help naturally heat your home.
  • Weatherize areas where it gets drafty with weather stripping and caulking.
  • Unplug devices when you’re not using them.
  • Maintain your heating system by changing filters and getting it serviced.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water when possible.
  • Lowering your thermostat temperature by 1 degree for at least eight hours can save you money.

Find more energy-saving tips on Evergy and Spire’s websites.