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Virginia Natural Gas offers tips to help keep you warm and stay safe during winter weather, Winter Storm Harper

Weatherization tips and resources available to help offset winter heating costs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Jan. 18, 2019 – As many areas of the country are facing extreme winter weather Virginia Natural Gas wants to offer customers some tips to keep their families safe and save on their winter heating costs. 

The safety of every family we serve is our highest priority; we strongly advise customers to adhere to the following guidelines associated with natural gas meter and appliance venting safety: 

Heavy snow and ice may weigh down power lines and tree limbs, causing them to fall. If a natural gas meter is damaged or underground gas line is exposed, immediately leave the area and call 911 or Virginia Natural Gas' 24-hour emergency response line 877-572-3342 from a safe location.

Exercise caution removing snow or ice from your natural gas meter assembly. Use your hands or a broom, not a shovel, to brush away snow or ice from your meter and regulator. Never kick or hit your gas meter or its piping with a hammer or any hard object to break away built-up snow or ice.

Detecting Gas Leaks

  • If you smell the rotten egg odor that is often associated with natural gas or suspect carbon monoxide is present, immediately leave the affected area and call 9-1-1 or the 24-hour emergency response line 877-572-3342 from a safe location.
  • Never try to identify the source of a leak yourself.
  • If the odor of natural gas is present, do not use a telephone or cellphone in the area of the odor. Do not turn light switches on or off. Do not operate any appliance or do anything that might cause a spark, such as lighting a match.

Appliance Safety

  • Never use natural gas appliances, such as ovens or the burners on a stove, to heat your homes or businesses.
  • Make sure your heating system, water heater and any other natural gas appliances are serviced and inspected annually by a qualified licensed professional.
  • Do not use any defective natural gas appliance until it has been inspected, serviced and determined to be safe by a qualified plumber or heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professional.

Carbon Monoxide Safety

  • To ensure the safe, proper operation of natural gas appliances, such as a furnace or water heater, and to prevent the potentially hazardous buildup of carbon monoxide within your home or business, ensure that outdoor vent openings and air intakes are not obstructed by snow or ice.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if anyone in your home or business experiences possible symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which include headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.

Every family deserves reliable energy at a price they can afford. Natural gas remains the most affordable way to heat their homes and businesses. For those struggling to make ends meet, resources are available to help offset winter heating costs for eligible customers.

  • Virginia Natural Gas and its customers donate funding for the EnergyShare program, which is administered by the Salvation Army and offers assistance with energy costs. Call your local Salvation Army to make an appointment, please no walk-ins:
    • South Hampton Roads 757-543-8100
    • Suffolk 757-539-5201
    • On the Peninsula 757-838-4875
  • Crisis Assistance is intended for emergency situations and helps eligible households when fuel assistance or other resources cannot meet the need. Some examples of emergencies include: lack of heat, utility cut-off is imminent, and inoperable or unsafe heating equipment. To be eligible for crisis assistance, there must be a heating emergency and certain income and citizenship criteria must be met. Contact your county’s department of social services to determine eligibility and submit an application.
  • Additionally, these community-based organizations may also provide assistance with paying your bill:
    • The STOP Organization 757-858-1360
    • Office of Human Affairs 757-244-6121
  • Virginia Natural Gas Budget Plan provides a convenient way for customers to plan for and pay their monthly natural gas bill. Customers pay a consistent amount every month for a 12-month period, allowing a credit balance to build up and help offset winter bills that may be higher due to increased natural gas usage.

For more information about the energy efficiency program, visit virginianaturalgas.com/residential/energy-savings.

Virginia Natural Gas also provides a variety of ways for customers to reduce costs through our energy efficiency program. Tools and resources are available on our website to give our customers more control over their energy consumption and bill. Some efficiencies can start in the home – little changes can add up to big savings with these weatherization tips:

  • Regularly replace air and furnace filters; most filters should be cleaned or replaced every 60-90 days. A clean filter will allow the system to run more efficiently.
  • Open window coverings during the day to allow sunlight to heat your home naturally, and close curtains at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.
  • Keep furniture, drapes, stuffed animals and other objects away from heating sources.
  • Adjust timer controls and programmable thermostats. Some older thermostats may not have an internal clock and need to be adjusted manually.
  • Caulk and weather-strip drafty doors and windows. Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of window frames during cold winter months.
  • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring penetrates through exterior walls, floors and ceilings. Install insulated gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on exterior walls to prevent drafts.

About Virginia Natural Gas
Virginia Natural Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Virginia Natural Gas provides natural gas service to nearly 300,000 customers in southeast Virginia. Virginia Natural Gas has been recognized as one of the safest, most reliable and customer-focused natural gas service providers, and is consistently ranked in the top quartile for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates. In 2018, Virginia Natural Gas was named Local Distribution Company of the Year by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Virginia Oil and Gas Association for the third consecutive year. For more information, visit virginianaturalgas.com and connect with the company on Facebook and Twitter.

About Southern Company Gas
Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company.  Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.2 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with 774,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas and related home services. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines, asset management for natural gas wholesale customers and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit Southern Company Gas at southerncompanygas.com

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Media Contact:
Jennifer Golz
o: 630.388.3737  |  c: 331.222.8716 |  jgolz@southernco.com