ERIE — National Fuel advises homeowners to be prepared and safe this winter and pay attention to outdoor gas meters, furnaces and vents.
Snow, ice and extremely cold temperatures can pose a variety of issues for heating systems. Ensure outdoor gas meter safety and proper service by: Keeping the gas meter and area around the meter free of snow; Clearing paths to the meter; Informing those working, shoveling, plowing, or snow blowing of the meter location; Not letting children play or climb on the meter; Exercising caution when removing icicles from the meter or the area above it; and by calling National Fuel, 1-800-365-3234, if a meter becomes encased in ice.
Natural gas furnace exhaust vents can become easily clogged by debris, ice, or snow, causing the furnace to shut off or operate inefficiently. Blocked vents also can lead to a buildup of carbon monoxide (CO) gas inside a residence.
CO is a colorless, odorless, and dangerous gas produced when fuel is burned without enough air for complete combustion. CO poisoning can cause death. Symptoms include fatigue, coughing, headache, irregular breathing, dizziness, overall paleness, nausea, and cherry red lips and ears. Open windows and doors, move outside, and call 911 immediately if experiencing symptoms.
Avoid a CO emergency by: Having a professional inspect and test chimney and heating equipment annually; Install at least one CO detector; Never use a gas oven or stovetop for heating; Never run a gasoline engine, generator or automobile in an enclosed space; Never use a portable charcoal or propane grill indoors; and if there is the smell of gas, leave fast! If a rotten-egg natural gas odor is present, leave the premises immediately and call National Fuel’s emergency line, 1-800-444-3130, from a different location.
If you smell gas outdoors, call National Fuel’s emergency number and provide the address nearest to the site of the odor.
Customers should be aware that similar to smoke and CO detectors, natural gas detectors are available to detect gas leaks and will sound an audible alarm or voice alert when natural gas is detected. Customers should leave the premises immediately and call National Fuel’s emergency line, 1-800-444-3130, from a different location when gas is detected. Natural gas detectors are available at home improvement stores and online. To learn more about natural gas safety, visit nationalfuel.com/utility/gas-safety/.
Efficiency Tips Customers can utilize to save money this winter and help the environment by becoming more energy efficient include: Using caulk or weather-stripping to reduce leaks and save up to 10% on monthly energy bills; Buying a programmable thermostat or setting thermostats between 65° and 70° during the winter and at 58° when away from the house; Closing vents and doors in unused rooms, closing dampers on unused fireplaces and using registers to direct warm airflow across the floor; and setting water heaters to 120° or the medium temperature setting, and draining a quart of water from the bottom of the heating tank every three months to remove sediment.
Payment assistance may be available for National Fuel customers who are having trouble paying their bills. Individuals are encouraged to call 1-800-365-3234 for assistance.
LIHEAP is open. A family of four with an annual income of $39,750 or less may qualify for a grant. Eligibility is based on income guidelines and household size. Crisis grants also are available for customers with an overdue balance or who do not currently have gas service. For more information, visit www.LIHEAPhelps.com or contact 1-877-443-2743.
Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) remains open for eligible tenant households. ERAP helps renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic receive assistance with paying rent and utility bills. Bill assistance includes past and future bills. ERAP has higher income eligibility than LIHEAP. Visit www.dhs.pa.gov/coronavirus/Pages/Emergency-Rental-Assistance-Program.aspx for more information.
Other payment assistance programs include: Budget Plan, which allows predictable monthly gas bills and stabilized heating payments for the year; Deferred Payment Agreement in which customers can negotiate a payment plan in the event of a problem or special circumstance. LIRA (Low-Income Residential Assistance Program), which offers reduced-rate monthly bills and debt forgiveness.
LIURP (Low Income Usage Reduction Program), which offers weatherization assistance for customers who meet income and consumption requirements.
CARES (Customer Assistance Referral Evaluation Services), which offers payment arrangements and assistance referrals for customers facing hardships.
Neighbor For Neighbor Heat Fund, which helps customers who are having difficulty paying bills and who meet one of the following criteria: at least 55 years old, a veteran, disabled, have a certified medical condition or are receiving unemployment benefits.
National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation is the Utility segment of National Fuel Gas Company, a diversified energy company that is engaged in a number of natural gas-related activities. The Utility provides natural gas service to nearly 2 million residents in Western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania. For more information, visit www.nationalfuel.com.