CenterPoint Energy continues to monitor the weather forecast, as some parts of Texas are expected to experience colder-than-normal temperatures later this week and into the weekend. Because safety is CenterPoint Energy’s top priority, the company is preparing for the upcoming weather conditions and wants customers to be prepared as well.
CenterPoint Energy encourages customers to have an emergency plan, particularly if they depend on natural gas to heat their homes. The company is offering these safety tips to help customers prepare as soon as possible:
- Make sure your heating system is working properly. Malfunctioning home heating equipment can cause a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Check that outside furnace vents aren’t blocked by snow or ice. Keep your furnace filter clean for safe, efficient operation.
- Use space heaters safely. Use a space heater with an automatic shut-off feature, and keep children, pets and all items at least three feet away. A space heater that uses gas, propane or wood should be vented to the outside. Stoves and ovens should never be used for space heating.
- Check your carbon monoxide (CO) and smoke alarms. These devices are essential to warn you of a fire or dangerous condition involving a furnace, water heater, fireplace or stove. Test your alarms monthly and change batteries as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Immediately report a suspected natural gas leak. If you smell the “rotten egg” odor of natural gas, immediately leave on foot, go to a safe location and call both 911 and CenterPoint Energy at 888-876-5786. Don’t use electric switches/outlets, phones (including cell phones), drive or start a car inside or in close proximity to the location, or do anything that could cause a spark.
Cold temperatures also mean increased energy usage. CenterPoint Energy recommends the following tips for more efficient heating:
Furnace: A furnace is the largest natural gas consuming appliance.
- Set your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees. If possible, set it at 65 degrees when you are home and 60 degrees when you are away from home.
- Lowering your thermostat can help you save on your annual heating costs. Installing a programmable thermostat can help you automatically control your heat usage. Add on extra layers of clothing to keep warm.
- Change your air filters monthly. A dirty filter restricts airflow and can increase the operating cost of your furnace by as much as 10 percent. A good reminder is to change the filter each time you receive your natural gas bill.
Other appliances: Although they consume less natural gas, you can still maximize their efficiency.
- Run your washing machine, dishwasher and gas dryer only with full loads.
Make your home more airtight and keep cold air outside:
- Seal leaks around doors, windows, and other openings such as pipes or ducts, with caulk or weather-stripping. The most common places where air escapes in homes are floors, walls, ceilings, ducts, fireplaces, plumbing penetrations, doors, windows, fans, vents and electrical outlets.
- If it has been a while, consider adding more insulation in your attic.
- On sunny days, open draperies and blinds to let the sun’s warmth in. Close them at night to insulate against the cold air outside.
For natural gas safety tips and other resources, visit CenterPointEnergy.com/WeatherSafety.