Preparing for Winter
At Washington Gas, safely and reliably meeting the energy needs of our customers is our highest priority.
Each year, we help customers prepare for the winter heating season with information about energy efficiency, energy conservation and energy assistance. This winter (2016-2017), we expect heating bills to increase because of the cold weather. Take simple steps now to help you and your family manage energy costs better and stay safe, warm and energy-smart when temperatures start to drop.
Safety and Energy Efficiency
Nearly half of your energy budget is spent on heating and cooling so consider the following:
- For safety, comfort and energy efficiency, schedule an appointment to have a qualified, licensed natural gas contractor perform a thorough inspection of your natural gas heating equipment, including the furnace, boiler, water heater, all pilot and burner chambers, venting systems, thermostats and unvented space heaters. Remember that heating contractors get busier as the weather gets cooler, so be proactive.
- Replace your air/furnace filter every month during the heating season to maintain safe and efficient operation of your heating equipment. Let your natural gas bill be a reminder.
- Use the Low or Warm settings on your water heater – never turning it above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This will improve efficiency and prevent scalding accidents. If you have an automatic dishwasher and the manufacturer recommends a Normal temperature setting for your water heater, ask your plumber about anti-scald devices for shower and sink taps.
- Caulk, weather-strip and insulate openings where you think air may infiltrate your home. The most common places where air escapes include doors, attics, windows, plumbing penetrations and electrical outlets.
- Reduce your hot water use by taking showers instead of baths, washing full loads of dishes and using cold water for full loads of laundry.
- If you are replacing appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR label for efficiency ratings.
These tips are also available in an infographic, which you can download here.
Important Winter Safety Tips
- Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas created when fossil fuels are not burned completely. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends putting CO detectors outside each bedroom of your home. It also recommends installing smoke alarms on each level of your house and inside every bedroom. For both types of devices, check batteries monthly and replace them at least twice a year.
- Never use your oven or range top to heat your home. Using the oven to heat a room or apartment during winter is dangerous. Leaving burner flames on and unmonitored is a fire hazard and oven burners operating continuously can use up indoor oxygen and lead to the production of deadly carbon monoxide.
If you are having trouble paying your gas bill, learn more about your energy assistance options here or call us at 703-750-1000 as soon as possible. Washington Gas can provide you with information about our payment assistance programs as well as state and federal government energy assistance programs for eligible customers.
Payment Plans and Services
Washington Gas offers several payment plans and services to help you manage your time and energy costs. The Automated Payment Plan, Budget Plan, eBill, eService Center and Automated Services line work well together or separately. For information regarding all of our payment services and locations, download our Billing and Payment Plans Brochure, visit the Billing and Payment pages of our website or call 703-750-1000.
- Download the Energy Saver Guide: Tips on Saving Money and Energy at Home from the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Visit energyhog.org to learn about energy efficiency through interactive games the entire family can enjoy.
Cleaning Snow from Your Gas Meter
To avoid the possibility of an interruption in gas service, be sure to clear any accumulated snow from the natural gas meter and regulator vent as well as any appliance exhausts using your hands, a brush or a broom.
Never use a shovel or other hard object to clear the snow from the gas meter, regulator vents or appliance exhausts.
Should you experience an interruption in gas service, please call Washington Gas Customer Service at 703-750-1000.
Winter Storm Information
Please review the following information to help you stay safe during severe winter weather conditions.
Walking/Traveling in Snowy or Icy Conditions
- The risk of personal injury and accidents while driving are increased during snowy and icy weather. Exercise additional caution while working or driving during a winter storm.
- When entering and exiting buildings, use handrails and be careful where you step to make sure your footing is secure.
- Wear sturdy shoes that grip in ice and snow.
- Watch for other drivers who may be inexperienced driving in the snow and drive slowly, allowing adequate time to stop. Give yourself at least three times more space than usual between your car and the car in front of you.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
- Turn on headlights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
- Keep lights and windshield clean.
- Use low gears to maintain traction, especially on hills.
- Do not use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
- Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed bridges and overpasses.
- Do not pass snow plows and sanding trucks. Truck drivers have limited visibility and you are likely to find the road in front of the truck worse than the road behind the truck.
- Do not assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can also encounter trouble on winter roads.
Infographic: Winter Preparation Tips