With the winter months upon us, FirstEnergy Corp. (NYSE: FE) utilities reminds customers of steps they can take to better manage energy bills that may climb as the frigid weather lingers.
Tips for saving energy through continued cold weather include:
• Make sure your home is properly insulated to help reduce heat loss. Inspect doors and windows and apply caulk or weather stripping where necessary to keep cold air out. Close drapes, blinds and garage doors to retain heat.
• Keep your thermostat at a temperature where you feel comfortable. Each degree lower has the potential to save about 2 percent on your heating bill. Install a programmable thermostat and it will do the work for you.
• Have a professional tune-up and inspect your furnace.
• Clean or replace the furnace filter to improve efficiency.
• Make sure heat can get into the room. Keep furniture and drapes from blocking heat registers and return vents.
• Use a sturdy fireplace screen when using a fireplace or wood-burning stove.
• Never use a gas stove, charcoal grill or lantern intended for outdoor use inside your home as it could lead to a buildup of deadly carbon monoxide gas.
• Exercise caution with space heaters. Only use heaters designed for indoor use, and keep all heat sources at least three feet away from curtains, carpet or furniture that could catch on fire. Know that despite their small size, space heaters have the potential to use a lot of electricity as they provide heat.
• Close the vents in rooms that are not being used.
• Avoid frozen pipes by opening faucets and maintaining a constant drip, or wrap pipes in insulation or layers of newspapers.
• Keep electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and tablet computers fully charged to be ready for any emergencies.
• Keep a flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries handy in the event a power interruption occurs.
• Never use a portable generator inside the house or a closed garage in the event of a power outage. Ensure the proper generator is selected and installed by a qualified electrician. When operating a generator, the power coming into the home should always be disconnected. Otherwise, power from the generator could be sent back onto the utility lines, creating a hazardous situation for utility workers.
Utility System Preparation Work Enhances Winter Operations
Winter’s cold temperatures produce increased demand for electricity and the cold temperatures, heavy snow and wind have the potential to cause damage to poles, wires and substations, requiring FirstEnergy crews to make repairs in difficult conditions. In advance of the winter season, FirstEnergy’s utilities completed maintenance work on equipment and did various inspections to help prepare its infrastructure for cold-weather operations.
The winter preparation work included inspecting heating equipment for substation components, such as capacitor banks, transformers, and oil- and gas-filled circuit breakers. Substation buildings that house remote-controlled relay equipment were winterized and the heating systems inspected.
Company bucket trucks and other vehicles also have been inspected to ensure safe operation during the winter season. Special emphasis is placed on the condition of tires and any air braking systems, which can freeze if moisture is present. In addition, snow removal equipment is on standby. Plows are used to help crews gain access to substations, and to clear the work areas and sidewalks at company service garages and other facilities.
In addition, tree trimming throughout the year helps meet the rigors of winter operations by maintaining proper clearances around electrical systems and helping to protect against tree-related outages.
Employee safety also is a priority during the winter. FirstEnergy’s cold-weather operational procedures are reviewed with linemen, substation electricians, and meter readers in advance of any frigid conditions. Company personnel often take extra measures to stay warm when working in extreme cold to restore power after an outage. Crews also could be delayed by treacherous driving conditions.
Customer Communications Options
If winter weather does cause an outage, customers who are without power should call 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877) to report their outage or click the “Report Outage” link on www.firstenergycorp.com.
Customers should never go near a downed power line, even if they think it is no longer carrying electricity. Extra caution should be used in areas where downed lines are tangled in trees or other debris. Motorists are cautioned to treat intersections with inoperable traffic signals as four-way stops.
FirstEnergy customers also can subscribe to email and text message alert notifications to receive weather alerts in advance of major storms, and updates on scheduled or extended power outages. Customers can also use two-way text messaging to report outages, request updates on restoration efforts, and make other inquiries about their electric accounts. More information about these communications tools is available online at www.firstenergycorp.com/connect.
FirstEnergy Corp. is dedicated to safety, reliability and operational excellence. Its 10 electric distribution companies form one of the nation's largest investor-owned electric systems, serving customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The company’s transmission subsidiaries operate more than 24,000 miles of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions.
Connect with the companies online at www.firstenergycorp.com, on Twitter at @Met_Ed, @Penelec, @Penn_Power, @W_Penn_Power, @JCP_L, @MonPowerWV, or @PotomacEdison, or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/MetEdElectric, www.Facebook.com/PenelecElectric, www.Facebook.com/PennPower, www.Facebook.com/WestPennPower, www.Facebook.com/JCPandL.