As the Mid-Hudson Valley begins to transition from fall into winter, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. reminds its customers to take steps now to keep their homes safe, warm and efficient during the colder months ahead. Measures include servicing heating systems, installing carbon monoxide detectors and becoming more energy efficient.
“As days become colder, heating systems will be working more often,” said Charles A. Freni, President and C.E.O. of Central Hudson. “Having systems professionally maintained now ensures they will operate safely and efficiently throughout the winter.” In addition to checking fittings, burners and performing other adjustments, chimneys and exhaust flues should also be cleared of any obstructions, especially now that leaves have fallen. “Blockages can prevent flue gases 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 many symptoms including sleepiness, dizziness, nausea, loss of consciousness and even death. “Be sure your home is equipped with a carbon monoxide detector 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 as 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.
“Now is great time to implement energy efficiency measures,” Freni added. Central Hudson offers energy efficiency incentives for homes and businesses, including rebates of up to $1,000 on new, high-efficiency natural gas home heating systems, up to $1,600 on electric heat pump systems, $250 on indirect natural gas water heaters and up to $1,000 on high efficiency heat pump water heaters. A complete description of Central Hudson’s rebates and programs is available at www.CentralHudson.com and clicking on “Save.”
Discounted energy efficiency products with instant savings for Central Hudson customers are available at local participating retailers and for a limited time at the CenHub store. Available items include LED bulbs, smart thermostats, advanced power strips, water-saving products and more. To visit the store, click on the “Save” link at www.CentralHudson.com; and for a list of participating retailers, click on “Residential Incentives.”
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, particularly in 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.
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.
Payment assistance options are also available to qualifying customers like the Bill Discount program for income-qualified customers receiving the federally funded Home Energy Assistant Program (HEAP) grants, Deferred Payment Agreements that help customers catch up by paying a past-due account balance in monthly installments, the Extra Security Plan which offers an extended billing due-date for qualified customers on a fixed income and the Good Neighbor Fund which provides last resort grants for families who have exhausted all other means of assistance, Learn more about Central Hudson’s assistance programs by visiting www.cenhud.com/account-resources/assistance-programs/.