The Newnan Times-Herald

Community

Preparing for winter heating season


  • By Kandice Bell
  • |
  • Oct. 20, 2018 - 9:19 PM

Preparing for winter heating season

Photo courtesy of MetroCreative Graphics

Fall is here, but the winter season is coming, and colder temperatures will become more likely.

In early 2018, Coweta experienced temperatures in the teens. According to Generations Healthcare Managements, as the body ages, its ability to regulate its own temperature, as well as sense other temperature fluctuations, changes. Generations Healthcare Management specializes in independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing services.

Hypothermia, a drop in body temperature that can be dangerous, can be a serious condition for seniors. Over half of all reported hypothermia deaths occur among individuals 60 and older, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hypothermia isn’t only a danger during times of extremely cold temperatures. Mild hypothermia can occur when an outside temperature is just 60 degrees, said Maureen Geboy, wellness coordinator with the Three Rivers Area Agency on Aging, in a previous Newnan Times-Herald interview.

The agency, which serves Coweta and other surrounding counties, plans, coordinates, and administers programs for older adults, caregivers, persons with disabilities, and grandparents raising grandchildren, according to its website.

Geboy outlined some basic tips to help keep seniors warm during cold weather, which include:

Heat your home effectively
Heat your home safely
Dress warmly
Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet
Be cautious of outdoor obstacles that could cause slips and falls

The Georgia Public Service Commission advises consumers to start preparing now for the upcoming winter heating season. Consumers need to ensure their homes and heating systems are ready for the cold weather as well as make sure they are getting the best value for their natural gas dollar.

 “If you wait until the last minute you could be shivering while you wait for a service technician or pay higher winter prices. I urge Georgians to prepare for the upcoming winter season before the cold temperatures arrive,” said Commission Chairman Lauren “Bubba” McDonald.

The commission recommends Coweta consumers take the following steps to reduce the impact of winter heating costs. 

Maintain your heating system. Homeowners should have a qualified service technician check out their heating system at least once a year. Replace an older thermostat with a newer digital and programmable one. Many can be programmed to adjust the temperature setting several times during the day.
Winterize and caulk around windows, outside doors, dryer vents, openings where pipes enter the house and other openings.
Insulate pipes in crawl spaces.
Keep furnace vents unblocked by drapes and rugs.
Add insulation whenever possible. Improving attic insulation can save from 10 to 50 percent in heating costs.
 
Consumers can take steps now to reduce the impact of higher natural gas prices during the winter. The commission urges consumers to look into budget billing plans and compare marketer pricing options. The commission anticipates that natural gas costs for the average residential natural gas customer this winter heating season will be about the same as last year. It’s important to note, however, that this forecast is based on normal winter weather. As is always the case, unexpectedly cold weather has the potential to drive up natural gas costs.

 A colder-than-normal winter means the furnace will be running more and will be using more natural gas. However, a milder-than-normal winter means the furnace probably won’t be running as much and will use less natural gas.

 
The commission publishes a monthly price-comparison chart of all natural gas marketers’ plans – senior, variable, fixed and pre-pay on its web site, www.psc.state.ga.us Once on the site, click on “Natural Gas Marketers’ Prices.” The regulated provider is available to serve low-income citizens and those who are not able to obtain service from any of the certificated marketers in a Atlanta Gas Light Company service area.

The commission does not regulate the price of natural gas. Natural gas marketers in the Atlanta Gas Light delivery area – which serves approximately 1.5 million customers – are allowed to set prices according to market conditions. The marketers’ natural gas prices can change on a monthly basis for variable rate plans.

For more assistance, visit  www.psc.state.ga.us  or call the commission at 404-656-4501.

Consumer facts:

-Budget Billing: Consumers who are on a budget, retired or on a fixed income may find budget billing to be an attractive payment option. It allows consumers to make levelized monthly payments on their bills, and is available whether consumers have fixed or variable rate plans. Budget billing can help consumers avoid the spikes in their winter heating bills.

-Energy conservation: Conservation is vital to any plan of action to lower one’s monthly utility bill.  Purchasing energy-efficient equipment such as an energy-efficient furnace, hot water heater and/or stove, caulking around doors and windows, insulating walls, floors and the attic, are some things consumers can do to lower their winter heating bills.
 

-Weatherization: Weatherization assistance for low-income families is available in Georgia. This assistance is offered through a program administered by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority. For information on weatherization assistance go to: http://www.gefa.ga.gov/  or call 404-584-1000.

-Low income assistance: Low-income consumers may qualify for assistance with their heating bills through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). It is administered by the Georgia Department of Human Services, which distributes federal grant money through local community action agencies. Information about LIHEAP is available at http://www.dhs.ga.gov/  or by calling 404-656-2323 or 1-800-869-1150 outside metro Atlanta. 
 

-Other assistance: Consumers may also be eligible for assistance through other programs sponsored by their local utilities or social service agencies. Natural gas customers may be able to obtain help through H.E.A.T. Inc at www.heatga.org  or 678-406-0212. Natural gas and electric customers may also contact Project SHARE which is operated through the Salvation Army at 800-25-SHARE. You must apply through the local SHARE Partner Agency.