Virginia Natural Gas has tips on how to stay warm and keep heating costs down

Posted at 3:31 PM, Jan 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-18 15:31:48-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Virginia Natural gas wants to offer some helpful tips to keep families safe and their winter heating costs down through the winter weather.

The company strongly advises customers to adhere to the following guidelines associated with natural gas meter and appliance venting safety:

Heavy snow and ice may cause power lines and tree limbs to fall when they are weighed down. If a natural gas meter is damaged or underground gas line is exposed, leave the area immediately and call 911 or Virginia Natural Gas’ 24-hour emergency response line at (877)-572-3342 from a safe location.

Exercise caution when removing snow or ice from your natural gas meter assembly. A a shovel should not be used, Use your hands or a broom to brush away snow or ice from your meter and regulator. Never break away built-up snow or ice by kicking or hitting your gas meter or its piping. No hard objects like a hammer should ever be used.

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 911 or the 24-hour emergency response line 877-572-3342 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.

Natural gas remains the most affordable way to heat homes and businesses. For those struggling to make ends meet, resources are available to help offset winter heating costs for eligible customers.

Virginia Natural Gas and its customers donate funding for the EnergyShare program, which is administered by the Salvation Army and offers assistance with energy costs. Call your local Salvation Army to make an appointment, no walk-ins please:

  • South Hampton Roads 757-543-8100
  • Suffolk 757-539-5201
  • On the Peninsula 757-838-4875

Crisis Assistance is intended for emergency situations and helps eligible households when fuel assistance or other resources cannot meet the need. Emergencies include: lack of heat, utility cut-off is imminent, and inoperable or unsafe heating equipment. To be eligible for crisis assistance, there must be a heating emergency and certain income and citizenship criteria must be met. Contact your county’s department of social services to determine eligibility and submit an application.

Community-based organizations such as the ones listed below may also provide assistance with paying your bill:

  • The STOP Organization 757-858-1360
  • Office of Human Affairs 757-244-6121

Virginia Natural Gas Budget Plan provides a way for customers to pay their monthly natural gas bill with a set plan. 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.

For more information about each of these programs or help managing natural gas costs, please visit this link.

Virginia Natural Gas also provides a variety of ways for customers to reduce costs through our energy efficiency program. Tools and resources are available on our website to give our customers more control over their energy consumption and bill. Some efficiencies can start in the home – little changes can add up to big savings with these weatherization tips:

  • 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.

For more information about the energy efficiency program, visit this link.