DENVER, Jan. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Frigid temperatures mean higher winter heating bills and a greater need for caution, according to Energy Outreach Colorado.
"The below-freezing temperatures we're experiencing present a safety situation for anyone who can't afford to pay their home energy bill," said Skip Arnold, executive director at Energy Outreach Colorado.
"This cold streak also will result in increased energy bills for next month," he added. "We anticipate a greater number of households will be seeking assistance in the coming weeks."Energy Outreach provides funding to 125 emergency assistance organizations across the state to help limited-income households pay overdue energy bills. Information about how to apply for assistance, or to donate, is available at www.EnergyOutreach.org or by calling toll-free 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435). From a safety standpoint, Energy Outreach urges people to avoid the temptation of using unsafe measures to heat their homes, such as an oven or an outside appliance like a barbecue grill, which could result in a fire or a buildup of carbon monoxide. Other safety tips include:
- Install a carbon monoxide (CO) detector near bedrooms to detect dangerous build-ups. CO can't be detected by smell, taste or sight and can reach dangerous levels when fuels such as natural gas, kerosene, wood or gasoline don't have enough oxygen to burn efficiently.
- Make sure heating vents are not blocked and the furnace is cleaned and maintained. Change furnace filters once every two months and do not store flammable liquids in the same room.
- With a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney inspected and cleaned annually and use a sturdy fireplace screen. Do not burn trash because it can burn too quickly.
- Check that power and extension cords are certified by an independent testing laboratory and aren't frayed, cracked or cut. Follow the rating for indoor or outdoor use.
- With candles, use sturdy, safe candleholders that can collect dripping wax. Keep them away from children and anything that can ignite, such as clothing, books, paper, curtains and flammable liquids. Blow them out when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Make sure portable electric space heaters carry the mark of an independent testing laboratory (US, CSA or ETL) and have an automatic shut-off feature.
- Never use an extension cord with a space heater. Always plug the heater into the wall socket and keep all flammable materials including furniture at least three feet away.
- Keep firefighting materials on-hand. These include dry powder fire extinguishers, a tarp or heavy blanket, sand, salt, baking soda and water.
- Don't thaw frozen pipes with a blow torch or other open flame. Use warm water or a UL rated hand-held blow dryer.