October 29, 2012 (San Diego) – With the holidays and cooler weather right around the corner, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is helping customers prepare for the winter season by offering easy tips on how to stay safe and keep warm while also saving money.
“With most home heating systems operated by gas, now is a good time to schedule an appointment to have your heater inspected,” said Caroline Winn, vice president of customer services for SDG&E. “Keeping your furnace and other home gas appliances in good working order is essential to ensure they are running both efficiently and safely.”
Free Appliance Safety Checks
After months of non-use, customers may be unaware if their furnace is not operating properly. While maintaining gas appliances is always the homeowner’s responsibility, at a customer’s request, SDG&E can perform free appliance safety checks. All SDG&E customers are eligible. To schedule an appointment, call SDG&E at 800-411-SDGE (7343). Customers may also schedule an appointment online through MyAccount or by using the “Check My Appliances” link on the SDG&E website, www.sdge.com.
A dysfunctional furnace can emit carbon monoxide. The colorless, odorless, tasteless gas is formed when carbon-based fuels, such as kerosene, gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, charcoal or wood, are burned with inadequate amounts of oxygen, creating a condition known as incomplete combustion. Carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly, which is one of the reasons all California homeowners are now required to install carbon monoxide detectors in their home.
Along with the changing season, SDG&E also recommends customers change the battery in their carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms to ensure they are working properly.
Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Get to know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and what to do if someone suspects carbon monoxide is present in their home by visiting http://www.sdge.com/carbon-monoxide-poisoning.
The early stages of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
• unexplained nausea
• unexplained drowsiness
• mental confusion
• flu-like symptoms:
• shortness of breath
If carbon monoxide is suspected, the following immediate actions are recommended:
• Turn off the appliance. If safe to do so, immediately turn off the suspected gas appliance.
• Evacuate. Evacuate the premises and call 911.
• Seek medical attention. Seek medical attention if anyone in the home experiences possible carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms.
• Call for appliance inspection. Contact SDG&E at 800-411-SDGE (7343) or a licensed, qualified professional immediately to have the appliance inspected.
• Don’t use the appliance. Don’t use the suspected gas appliance until it has been inspected, serviced and determined to be safe by SDG&E or a licensed, qualified professional.
More Winter Heating Safety Tips
In addition to a furnace or forced air heating unit, SDG&E offers the following recommendations for safe and efficient operation of natural gas appliances:
• Never use an oven, range or outdoor barbeque to heat your home because these appliances are not designed for this purpose. If used indoors they can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Vacuum and clean regularly around the furnace, particularly around the burner compartment to prevent a build-up of dust and lint.
• Never store anything near a gas appliance that might interfere with normal appliance airflow.
• Most forced-air units have a filter that cleans the air before heating and circulating it throughout the home. Check the filter monthly for lint build-up during periods of furnace use and clean or replace, if necessary.
• When installing a new or cleaned filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly. Never operate the furnace without the front panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Leave the fireplace damper open. When using your gas fireplace, make sure the damper is open.
Save Money on Monthly Heating Bills
Home heating typically accounts for more than half of the monthly winter gas bill. There are simple measures customers can do now to save money while staying warm this winter:
• Lowering the furnace thermostat three to five degrees, health permitting, can help save 30 percent on winter bills.
• Open curtains and/or blinds during the day to let the sun help warm your home, then close them at night to keep the warm air in.
• Seal gaps around windows and doors using insulating tape or caulking strips to eliminate drafts.
• Have gas appliances serviced and inspected, when they are in good working order they run more efficiently and safely.
• Improve heating efficiency and receive a no-cost heating and A/C system assessment and improvement service through SDG&E’s AC Quality Care program. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-289-2440 to sign up.
SDG&E’s Energy Savings Assistance Program provides free energy efficiency repairs and upgrades for customers with qualifying incomes. Depending on the customer’s needs, the program can help weatherize the home and even replace old, inefficient appliances with new, energy efficient ones at no charge.
“Not only will these improvements help customers update their homes, it will help them save money over the long term on their SDG&E bills,” said Winn.
Customers can see if they qualify for the program by visiting the SDG&E Energy Savings Assistance Program website or by calling 866-597-0597.
For more winter energy tips, visit www.sdge.com/winter.