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An Echo Press Editorial: Take sting out of winter with this advice

AN ECHO PRESS EDITORIAL

Tired of shivering through this long winter and struggling for ways to pay your heating bill?

January 2022 was the coldest January in Minnesota in eight years.

There is a way to fight back – follow energy-saving and safety tips to lower your heating bill while continuing to stay safe and warm.

CenterPoint Energy, which serves nearly 900,000 residential and business customers in the state, provided a news release during another recent cold spell last week containing this advice:

  • Make sure your heating system is operating safely and efficiently. Change or clean your furnace filter monthly. A dirty filter restricts airflow and can increase the operating cost of your furnace by as much as 10%.
  • Set your thermostat to no more than 68 degrees when you’re at home and awake. Lower it further at night or when you’re away from home for at least several hours.
  •  Use a programmable thermostat to match your household’s schedule by automatically lowering the heating temperature at night or while you’re away from home.
  • Make your home more airtight to keep cold air out. Use caulk or weather-stripping to seal leaks around doors, windows and other openings such as pipes or ducts. Close fireplace dampers when not in use so you don’t lose heat.
  • Keep curtains and blinds open during the day to allow the sun's heat to warm your house. Close curtains and blinds at night so you don’t lose heat when the sun goes down.

For more information about energy-saving tips and energy-efficiency incentives and programs visit CenterPointEnergy.com/SaveEnergy.
More important than saving some bucks is making sure you’re not putting your safety at risk. Every winter, the law enforcement blotter contains incidents where people are using space heaters, stoves or other heat sources that can lead to trouble – fires, carbon moxide poisoning, explosions

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Here are some safety tips:

  • Check your carbon monoxide (CO) and smoke alarms. They are essential to warn you of a fire or dangerous conditions involving a furnace, water heater, fireplace or stove. Minnesota law requires every home to have at least one operational CO alarm within 10 feet of every room used for sleeping. Test your alarms monthly and change batteries as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Know the signs of CO poisoning. Early symptoms such as headache and fatigue are similar to the flu, but without a fever. Continued CO exposure can lead to more severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, difficulty thinking clearly and fainting. If everyone in a household is experiencing symptoms, it may be CO poisoning. Get fresh air immediately, and call 911.
  • Immediately report a suspected natural gas leak. If you smell the “rotten egg” odor of natural gas, immediately leave on foot, go to a safe location and call both 911 and gas supplier. Don’t use electric switches/outlets, phones (including cell phones), drive or start a car inside or close to the location, or do anything that could cause a spark.

For more information about natural gas safety at CenterPointEnergy.com/Safety.
We have another month before the first calendar day of spring arrives, but as every Minnesotan knows, cold spells and blizzards can linger through April. Be prepared for it.

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