| To view the full infographic, click the thumbnail below:
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. Simple steps if taken now, may help you and your family manage energy costs better and stay safe, warm and energy-smart when temperatures start to drop.
Urgent Winter Safety Tips
- Install carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms. 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.
Safety + Energy Efficiency
Because nearly half of your energy budget is spent on heating and cooling, please 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.
- Use a candle to find heat-stealing cracks and holes. Light the candle near a window or door and watch to see if the flame/smoke trail is pulled toward a specific area.
- Close your chimney flue when not in use.
- Reduce hot water use by taking showers instead of baths, washing full loads of dishes and using cold water for full loads of laundry.
- When you are away from home, turn down your thermostat at least 10 degrees.
- If you are replacing appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR label for efficiency ratings.
- Use natural sunlight to keep the house warmer. Open your drapes on sunny days and close them when the sun sets.
- Invest in insulated drapes to trap heat in your home and keep the cold air out.
- Use smart plugs to set up holiday lights and program them to turn on and off to minimize electricity usage.
- Close vents in rooms that don’t need to be heated so that heat reroutes to occupied parts of your home.
- Run ceiling fans clockwise to circulate warm air trapped near the ceiling back into the room.
- In addition to saving money with lower utility bills, Washington Gas also has rebates available to customers in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. Learn more
Energy Assistance. You Have Options!
Do you need help with paying your gas bill? If you've fallen behind, please let us help you. There are payments assistance programs available to help you manage your Washington Gas bill, including the LIHEAP energy assistance program and the Washington Area Fuel Fund (WAFF). To learn more about these and other energy assistance programs, click here.
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, Customer Portal 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 844-WASHGAS (927-4427).
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 844-WASHGAS (927-4427).
Winter Storm Travel/Walking Safety
Please review the following information to help you stay safe during severe winter weather 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
energyhog.org for energy efficiency learning through interactive games