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PUC, Gov. Wolf Urge Consumers To Prepare For Cold Weather

With frigid temperatures and extreme wind chills forecasted for much of the state in the upcoming days, the Public Utility Commission Thursday reminded consumers to prepare for the cold weather by reviewing conservation and safe heating tips.

Severe cold temperatures put extra demands on utility systems, but energy conservation can help to reduce consumption. Try these energy-saving tips:

— Instead of turning up the heat, add an extra blanket or sweater, if your health permits.

— Use a programmable thermostat and set it to lower the temperature at night or whenever the house is unoccupied.

— Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible. This includes overhead doors on attached garages.

— Seal off unused rooms. Close the floor or wall registers and return air vents, and keep the doors closed in those areas.

— Open south-facing window curtains, drapes and blinds during the day. Close coverings at night to keep the heat in.

— Weatherstrip and caulk windows.

For additional energy conservation tips, visit the PUC website.

Since October, the PUC has been reminding consumers to “Prepare Now” for high energy costs this winter. The PUC’s message is simple: Prepare Now for winter energy costs. Learn more about conservation. Check your electric and natural gas bills and supplier contracts.

Use PAPowerSwitch.com to shop for service. Look into programs that help low-income customers maintain service or call the PUC at 1-800-692-7380.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than one-fifth of residential fires are related to the use of supplemental room heaters, including wood- and coal-burning stoves, kerosene heaters, gas space heaters and electric heaters, so before you put logs on the fireplace or plug in the electric heater, take some precautions.

Also, never use an oven or stove to help heat your home. For a list of home heating safety tips, visit the PUC website.

Residents are reminded to check on neighbors, especially the elderly. If someone is without heat-related utility service, help them call their local utility to obtain information about programs available to help them restore and maintain utility service.

Consumers with a seriously ill resident in the house or a protection from abuse order may have additional options for service restoration. Consumers should call their utility first. If they are unable to reach an agreement with the utility, the PUC may be able to provide assistance. The PUC can be reached toll-free at 1-800-692-7380.

Governor Wolf

Gov. Tom Wolf, along with the departments of Human Services and Health, are urging Pennsylvanians to take necessary steps to reduce the risk of health hazards, as the National Weather Service has issued wind chill advisories and wind chill warnings throughout much of the state.

“I encourage all Pennsylvanians to be safe and stay aware over the next few days of extreme cold,” said Gov. Wolf.  “Also be sure to check on your neighbors and bring your pets indoors.”

Following are health and safety tips from the Commonwealth:

-- Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning during power outages:

-- Never use an electric generator, camp stove or similar device indoors since they produce carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that builds up in closed spaces and is deadly.

-- Leave your home immediately and call 911 if your carbon monoxide detector sounds. Get medical help right away if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are dizzy, light headed or nauseous.

“It’s critically important that Pennsylvanians use caution to protect their health and safety this winter. Extreme temperatures are expected, posing severe health threats including frostbite and hypothermia,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Acting Physician General, Pennsylvania Department of Health. “If you will be spending time outdoors, try to dress warmly and be sure to keep exposed skin areas covered.”

-- Stay as warm as possible:

-- Hypothermia is a serious condition that happens when your body temperature is too low. Older Pennsylvanians and babies are most at risk and should be checked frequently. If your power is out for a long time, stay with a relative or friend, or go to a shelter if one is open in your area.

-- If you must venture outdoors, make trips brief and dress warmly. Cover your ears, head, mouth and face to prevent frostbite.

-- The Department of Human Services (DHS) is still accepting applications for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) 2014-15 heating season. LIHEAP assists with home heating bills to keep low-income Pennsylvanians warm and safe throughout the winter. Crisis and regular LIHEAP grants are available to renters and homeowners.

Online applications can be completed by visiting www.compass.state.pa.us. Paper applications are still available through local county assistance offices, or interested applicants can download and print an application from the department’s website.

-- The Commonwealth’s ReadyPA campaign encourages citizens to take three basic steps before an emergency occurs: Be Informed, Be Prepared, Be Involved.  More detailed information, including downloadable emergency home and car kit checklists and emergency plan templates, is available online at www.ReadyPA.org.

For more extensive information on managing cold weather, visit the Department of Human Services website or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH.


2/16/2015

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