Winter safety tips from FortisBC

Simple steps to keep your home warm and safe this winter

SURREY, BC, Oct. 29, 2012 /CNW/ - With the arrival of colder temperatures, FortisBC would like to remind customers to take steps to get their homes ready for a comfortable and safe heating season. "Although there was a great run of sunshine into fall, we can expect temperatures to drop so we want customers to take steps now to ensure their home is ready for winter," said Tom Loski, vice president customer service at FortisBC. "That includes making sure your natural gas and electricity heating systems are functioning safely and efficiently."

Energy Savings

  • Seal drafty doors. Keep heat indoors. If your entrance door is drafty, get a caulking gun and caulk between the doorframe and the wall. To stop drafts under the door, install a door sweep on the bottom edge.
  • Heating only rooms you are using. Avoid heating unused rooms by closing doors and warm air supply registers and by lowering the room thermostat for baseboards.  Avoid heating non-insulated spaces including garages, crawlspaces, attics or storage sheds.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. These are easy to install and when kept at 20 degrees Celsius when you're at home and 17 degrees Celsius when you're asleep, you can save 15 per cent on your home heating bill.
  • Wrap your pipes. Insulate hot water pipes and reduce heat loss, especially those that run through unheated areas like basements and crawl spaces.
  • Look for rebates. If replacing appliances or doing home renovations consider rebates that are available through FortisBC, and provincial programs such as LiveSmart BC.
  • Consider a home energy audit. Get tips to help you decide where to make the most energy efficient changes in your home.


Appliance Maintenance

  • Service natural gas appliances and furnaces. For homes that have natural gas furnaces, fireplaces and appliances, it is important to have a licensed gas contractor registered with the BC Safety Authority inspect and service all natural gas appliances on an annual basis to keep them operating in a safe and efficient manner. Make sure the contractor locates and inspects the gas piping from the meter to the appliance to confirm that it is functioning safely and free of any corrosion or damage. Information about choosing a natural gas contractor is available at fortisbc.com/findacontractor or safetyauthority.ca.
  • Service heat pumps. For homes heated and cooled using an air source or ground source heat pump, an annual inspection and service will help keep the system running efficiently and improve air quality in the home. Customers may qualify for a $50 rebate from the FortisBC PowerSense program for heat pump servicing that is completed before October 31, 2012. Visit fortisbc.com/rebates for more information.
  • Carbon Monoxide reminder. Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced when fuels are burned incompletely. Idling gasoline-powered vehicles and the burning of oil, coal, wood, charcoal, kerosene, propane or natural gas can all produce carbon monoxide. Regular maintenance checks by a licensed gas contractor are the best prevention against accidental exposure to carbon monoxide. Consider installing a CO alarm. Ensure that it is one which meets safety standards approved by the Canadian Standards Association.


Safety

  • Smell gas? If you smell the distinct, rotten egg, or sulphur-like odour of natural gas, leave the area immediately and call the FortisBC 24-hour emergency line at 1-800-663-9911 or 911.
  • Keep your meter clear of ice and snow. For natural gas meters, remove any built-up snow by hand until the regulator and shut off valve are clear to help avoid pipe breakages, leaks and interruptions of gas service. And, if ice builds up on your gas meter, call FortisBC at 1-888-224-2710. For our electricity customers, remember to keep the pathway to your electricity meter free of snow and ice to help keep our meter readers safe this winter. For more information, contact us at 1-866-436-7847.
  • Drive safe. Remember to slow down for the road conditions. When accidents happen that impact power poles, it can cause a service outage for the surrounding area. If an accident happens where poles or wires are knocked down on a vehicle, it is important to remain in the vehicle until help arrives. If the vehicle must be exited, jump clear of the vehicle landing with both feet on the ground together and shuffle with both feet on the ground to a safe distance of 10 meters. Also, watch for FortisBC crews working on roadsides all year long in all weather conditions.
  • Be prepared for outages.  Being prepared in advance can help minimize the inconvenience and help keep our customers and employees safe. Keep flashlights, blankets, a battery powered radio, water and emergency supplies in an easy to find location at home.
  • Keep kids safe around a gas fireplace. Consider installing an adjustable safety gate or screen and a fire-resistant hearth guard to better protect young children around a gas fireplace. A safety screen would ensure children do not touch the glass panels of a natural gas fireplace. Visit your local hearth products retailer to find a safety screen that's right for your home.
  • Add another person to your account. If you're worried about an elderly parent, relative, or dependant's ability to pay their bill, FortisBC can add you to your loved one's account. That way you can be authorized to discuss their account with FortisBC. Simply have the account holder call FortisBC at 1-888-224-2710 for natural gas customers and 1-866-436-7847 for electricity customers.


FortisBC is a regulated utility focused on providing safe and reliable energy, including natural gas, electricity, propane and thermal energy solutions. FortisBC employs more than 2,300 British Columbians and serves approximately 1.1 million customers in more than 135 B.C. communities. FortisBC is indirectly wholly owned by Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada. FortisBC owns and operates four regulated hydroelectric generating plants, approximately 7,000 kilometres of transmission and distribution power lines and approximately 47,000 kilometres of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines. FortisBC Inc., FortisBC Energy Inc., FortisBC Energy (Vancouver Island) Inc., and FortisBC Energy (Whistler) Inc. do business as FortisBC. Fortis Inc. shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and trade under the symbol FTS. Additional information can be accessed at www.fortisinc.com or www.sedar.com. 

SOURCE: FortisBC

For further information:

MEDIA CONTACT:
Tracy Tang
Corporate Communications Advisor
FortisBC
Phone: 604-592-7632
Email: tracy.tang@fortisbc.com
fortisbc.com
twitter.com/fortisBC
youtube.com/fortisBC