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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Consider weatherization tips to help offset winter heating costs


Above / Covered with snow, a Century Walk sculpture depicting Dick Tracy is a timely reminder to keep your home safe for your family as the temperature is expected to dip near zero this weekend. (PN File Photo)

As many areas of the country are facing extreme winter weather this weekend, Nicor Gas wants to offer customers some tips to keep their families safe and save on their winter heating costs.

For family safety, adhere to the following guidelines associated with natural gas meter and appliance venting safety:

Heavy snow and ice may weigh down power lines and tree limbs, causing them to fall. If a natural gas meter is damaged or underground gas line is exposed, immediately leave the area and call 911 or Nicor Gas’ 24-hour emergency response line 888.Nicor4U (642.6748) from a safe location.

Be cautious removing snow or ice from gas meter

Exercise caution when removing snow or ice from a natural gas meter assembly. Use your hands or a broom, not a shovel, to brush away snow or ice from your meter and regulator. Never kick or hit a gas meter or its piping with a hammer or any hard object to break away built-up snow or ice. 

Detecting Gas Leaks

  • If you smell the rotten egg odor that is often associated with natural gas or suspect carbon monoxide is present, immediately leave the affected area and call 9-1-1 or the 24-hour emergency response line 888.Nicor4U (642.6748)
    from a safe location.
  • Never try to identify the source of a leak yourself.
  • If the odor of natural gas is present, do not use a telephone or cellphone in the area of the odor. Do not turn light switches on or off. Do not operate any appliance or do anything that might cause a spark, such as lighting a match. 

Appliance Safety

  • Never use natural gas appliances, such as ovens or the burners on a stove, to heat your homes or businesses.
  • Make sure your heating system, water heater and any other natural gas appliances are serviced and inspected annually by a qualified licensed professional.
  • Do not use any defective natural gas appliance until it has been inspected, serviced and determined to be safe by a qualified plumber or heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professional. 

Carbon Monoxide Safety

  • To ensure the safe, proper operation of natural gas appliances, such as a furnace or water heater, and to prevent the potentially hazardous buildup of carbon monoxide within your home or business, ensure that outdoor vent openings and air intakes are not obstructed by snow or ice.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if anyone in your home or business experiences possible symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which include headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

Weatherization tips offer ways to save

Regularly replace air and furnace filters; most filters should be cleaned or replaced every 60-90 days. A clean filter will allow the system to run more efficiently.

  • Open window coverings during the day to allow sunlight to heat your home naturally, and close curtains at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.
  • Keep furniture, drapes, stuffed animals and other objects away from heating sources.
  • Adjust timer controls and programmable thermostats. Some older thermostats may not have an internal clock and need to be adjusted manually.
  • Caulk and weather-strip drafty doors and windows. Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of window frames during cold winter months.
  • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring penetrates through exterior walls, floors and ceilings. Install insulated gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on exterior walls to prevent drafts.

Every family deserves reliable energy at a price they can afford. But for many, wages have stayed the same while the cost of living continues to rise. That’s why Nicor Gas is proactively working to make energy as affordable as possible for our customers. Resources are available to help offset winter heating costs for eligible customers.

Enroll now for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Enrollment for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is underway and will continue through May 31 or until funds are exhausted. The federal- and state-funded energy assistance program helps low- and fixed-income families meet their energy needs during the winter heating season. The program is open to all households with income up to 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline, or about $37,650 for a family of four. In Illinois, LIHEAP is administered by the Illinois Department Commerce and Economic Opportunity. For more information or to locate a local application agency, call (877) 411-9276.

LIHEAP eligible households may also take advantage of the Percentage of Income Payment Plan. PIPP households pay a percentage of their income toward their utility bill and receive a reduction in outstanding utility bills for every on-time payment made.

Other energy assistance programs

Other energy assistance programs available to Nicor Gas customers are:

  • Nicor Gas Sharing Program provides one-time annual grants to qualified residential customers. The program is administered by the Salvation Army and funded through direct contributions from Nicor Gas employees and customers who can make donations via their monthly gas bill payment.
  • Nicor Gas Budget Plan provides a convenient way for customers to plan for and pay their monthly natural gas bill. Customers pay a consistent amount every month for a 12-month period, allowing a credit balance to build up and help offset winter bills that may be higher due to increased natural gas usage.
  • Nicor Gas’ energySMART program helps customers manage their costs by lowering out-of-pocket expenses for energy efficiency improvements through rebates for energy efficient equipment, energy assessments and free energy-saving products. For more energy-saving tips visit nicorgasrebates.com.

For more information about each of these programs or help managing natural gas costs, visit www.nicorgas.com/residential/energy-assistance

Tips submitted by Jennifer Golz, Manager, PR & Media Relations, Corporate Communications, for Nicor Gas,  a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southern Company. Nicor Gas serves more than 2.2 million customers in a service territory that encompasses most of the northern third of Illinois, excluding the City of Chicago. For more information, visit www.nicorgas.com.

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PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.


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