HUDSON VALLEY – Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation reminds its customers to take steps now to prepare for winter by servicing their heating systems, installing carbon monoxide detectors and becoming more energy efficient.
“As the weather becomes colder in the weeks ahead, heating systems may be turning on for the first time since spring,” said Charles A. Freni, Senior Vice President of Customer Services and Transmission & Distribution Operations. “Households and businesses should have their systems professionally maintained now to ensure they are operating safely and efficiently.” In addition to checking fittings, burners and performing other adjustments, chimneys and exhaust flues should also be cleared of any obstructions, especially after leaves have fallen. “Blocked flues and chimneys can prevent exhaust gases from heating systems from venting properly, causing a build-up of deadly carbon monoxide gas in the home,” he said.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas produced as a by-product of any fuel, including oil, propane, wood, natural gas and kerosene. Exposure can cause a variety of symptoms including sleepiness, dizziness, nausea, loss of consciousness and even death. “Homes and businesses should be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors as a safety precaution to warn of its presence, and those currently using detectors should replace the batteries regularly,” said Freni. If carbon monoxide is detected, the building should be evacuated, and the cause investigated by a qualified service technician. Occupants should seek medical attention if necessary.
Freni also advised customers to be aware of natural gas odors, which are similar to that of sulfur as a result of an added odorant for easier detection, and to follow the advice of Central Hudson’s natural gas odor safety slogan, Stop. Go. Let Us Know. Customers who think they smell natural gas should Stop: don’t light or use a match, turn lights on or off, use a flashlight, cell phone, telephone, flush or run water, or turn on or off any other appliance or electric/electronic device; Go: leave the home or building immediately; and Let Us Know: by moving to another location and calling Central Hudson as soon as possible at (800) 942-8274, or emergency responders at 911. Natural gas odors detected outdoors or in public places should also be reported.
As an additional safety precaution, Freni also urged motorists to stay focused while driving, particularly as days become shorter and nights longer. “Our Distracted Driving awareness campaign serves as a reminder to watch for potential hazards, especially as the hours of daylight and darkness change,” said Freni. “Please, put the phone and other distractions away so that you can focus on what may be ahead.”
Billing Programs and Energy Efficiency
To avoid seasonal variations in energy bills, Central Hudson customers may enroll in the Budget Billing program. “Budget Billing divides a household’s average annual energy bill into 11 even monthly payments, with the 12th month’s payment adjusted up or down to reflect actual usage and market prices,” said Freni. “With Budget Billing, energy bills are more predictable, which may also help in managing household budgets.
“This is also a great time of year to implement energy efficiency measures,” Freni added. Central Hudson offers energy efficiency incentives for homes and businesses, including rebates of $200 to $700 on new, high-efficiency natural gas home heating systems, up to $500 on electric heat pump systems, $250 on indirect natural gas water heaters and $450 on high efficiency heat pump water heaters. A complete description of Central Hudson’s rebates and programs is available at www.SavingsCentral.com.
Discounted energy efficiency products with instant savings for Central Hudson customers are available at the CenHub store. Available items include a wide assortment of LED bulbs, smart thermostats, advanced power strips, water-saving products and more. To visit the store, click on the CenHub Store link at www.CentralHudson.com.
Other low-cost and no-cost efficiency measures homeowners may take include:
- Insulating ducts and hot water pipes where they run through uninsulated areas, such as crawl spaces, and repairing leaks in the duct system;
- Adding insulation to the attic;
- Turning down thermostats (each degree saves up to three percent on energy use);
- Keeping radiators and heating ducts clear of furniture to allow heat to circulate freely; and/or
- Sealing air leaks with weather stripping and caulk, which can save up to 10 percent on the use of heating fuels.
Visit www.CentralHudson.com for more information on winter safety, efficiency incentives and energy saving tips.