As the temperatures plummet, furnaces across Western Pennsylvania are being turned up to keep families warm. While lower fuel prices are helping to reduce the gap between what Pennsylvania families can afford to pay for energy and the actual price of their energy bills, Columbia Gas recognizes that paying for that bill can be a burden for many families.

“We want our customers to know that Columbia Gas has programs that can help,” said Deb Davis, manager of Universal Services for Columbia Gas. “Every community has households struggling with energy costs. But even if you don’t qualify for financial assistance programs such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or a CRISIS grant, we want to remind our customers that Columbia Gas offers WarmWise – a series of energy-saving programs to help customers identify where their homes may be losing energy. We then provide solutions to help our customers start saving energy and money.”

WarmWise Audits & Rebates offers a free home energy audit, an energy-efficiency plan with estimated cost savings, and, when appropriate, a programmable thermostat, such as a Nest Learning Thermostat, and rebates for the installation of audit-recommended measures. Additionally, Columbia Gas will provide customers with information on opportunities to improve their home’s energy efficiency as an effort to help manage natural gas utility costs. Audits are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and rebates of up to $1,800 are available for the following measures:

• Efficient Heating Equipment

• Insulation

• Air Sealing

• Gas Water Tank $100 (max)

While the income requirements to qualify for the WarmWise Audits & Rebates program are less stringent than the company’s other financial assistance programs. Davis encourages potential recipients to visit www.ColumbiaGasPA.com/WarmWise or to call 1-866-956-0308 to determine their eligibility. “It only takes a few minutes,” said Davis. “The money you could potentially save is well worth the time of a phone call or a website visit.” Regardless of whether you are a Columbia Gas customer, the company would like to offer the following helpful tips on how you can lower your energy bill this winter:

• Set thermostats to 68 degrees or lower during the day and evening.

• Replace or clean your furnace filters once a month. A dirty filter restricts airflow, making the system work harder to keep you warm. Having a clean filter also prolongs the life of your furnace by keeping dust and dirt from building up in the system, which can lead to expensive maintenance and/or system failure.

• Install a properly sealed duct system in your home. Seal air leaks in ducts using mastic sealant or metal tape. Never use duct tape, as it is not long-lasting. Also make sure connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet the floors, walls and ceiling.

• Fill the gaps in your home this winter by caulking and weather stripping.

• Close the damper when your fireplace is not in use. This will not only prevent warm air from escaping, but it also will prevent cold air from coming down the chimney and into the house.

• Keep the draperies and shades on your windows that are facing the south open during the day to let the sunlight come into your home and closed at night to decrease the chill you may feel as a result of cold windows.

If you are a Columbia Gas customer and think that you may experience challenges in paying your natural gas bills, contact Columbia Gas at 1-888-460-4332.

For more information on energy efficiency and assistance programs, visit www.ColumbiaGasPa.com.

This article is brought to you by Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania