Temperatures are beginning to cool as the Mid-Hudson Valley begins to transition from summer into fall and Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. reminds its customers to take steps now to keep their homes energy efficient, safe and warm during the colder months ahead. Measures include servicing heating systems, installing carbon monoxide detectors and becoming more energy efficient.
“As days become colder, heating systems will be working more often, and higher energy use can raise both the wholesale market supply price for electricity and natural gas, which can have an impact on utility bills,” said Charles A. Freni, President and C.E.O. of Central Hudson. “Using appliances efficiently, especially during the coldest weather, conserves resources and can help residents manage their energy bills.”
Increased global demand for energy, particularly natural gas have already triggered dramatic price increases in Europe and Asia. This spike in worldwide utilization is expected to have an impact on domestic storage levels, meaning a colder winter with strong heating demand has the potential to push energy prices higher than normal in the U.S. Combined with the increased dependence on natural gas worldwide for electric generation as nuclear and coal plants are closed, bills could rise.
Customers can help manage energy costs in various ways, such as implementing energy efficiency measures and exploring their billing options.
“Now is a great time to implement energy efficiency measures,” Freni added. Central Hudson offers energy efficiency incentives for homes and businesses, including rebates of up to $1,000 on new, high-efficiency natural gas home heating systems, up to $1,600 on electric heat pump systems, $250 on indirect natural gas water heaters and up to $1,000 on high efficiency heat pump water heaters. A complete description of Central Hudson’s rebates and programs is available at www.CentralHudson.com and clicking on “Save.”
Discounted energy efficiency products with instant savings for Central Hudson customers are available at local participating retailers. Available items include LED bulbs, smart thermostats, advanced power strips, water-saving products and more. For a list of participating retailers visit www.CentralHudson.com, click on the “Save” link at the top of the page, then click on “Residential Incentives.”
Other low-cost and no-cost efficiency measures homeowners may take include:
- Insulating ducts and hot water pipes where they run through uninsulated areas, such as crawl spaces, and repairing leaks in the duct system;
- Adding insulation, particularly in the attic;
- Turning down thermostats (each degree saves up to three percent on energy use);
- Keeping radiators and heating ducts clear of furniture to allow heat to circulate freely; and/or
- Sealing air leaks with weather stripping and caulk, which can save up to 10 percent on the use of heating fuels.
To avoid seasonal variations in energy bills, Central Hudson customers may enroll in the Budget Billing program. “Budget Billing divides a household’s average annual energy bill into 11 even monthly payments, with the 12th month’s payment adjusted up or down to reflect actual usage and market prices,” said Freni. “With Budget Billing, energy bills are more predictable, which may also help in managing household budgets.”
Payment assistance options are also available to qualifying customers like the Bill Discount program for income-qualified customers. The federally funded Home Energy Assistant Program (HEAP) grants are now available and the new Regular Arrears Supplement program that provides up to $10,000 in utility arrears assistance to eligible households who are unable to pay their unpaid electric and/or gas utility arrears.
Central Hudson’s Clean Energy Marketplace allows customers to save up to 10 percent on their utility bill while also investing in local clean energy projects. Residents and businesses may subscribe by visiting http://CleanEnergyMarket.cenhud.com to purchase a portion of the electricity produced by the project of their choice.
Other programs include Deferred Payment Agreements that help customers catch up by paying a past-due account balance in monthly installments, the Extra Security Plan which offers an extended billing due-date for qualified customers on a fixed income and the Good Neighbor Fund which provides last resort grants for families who have exhausted all other means of assistance, Learn more about Central Hudson’s assistance programs by visiting www.cenhud.com/account-resources/assistance-programs/.
Having heating systems professionally maintained now ensures they will operate safely and efficiently throughout the winter. In addition to checking fittings, burners and performing other adjustments, chimneys and exhaust flues should also be cleared of any obstructions, especially now that leaves are falling. “Blockages can prevent flue gases from venting properly, causing a build-up of deadly carbon monoxide gas in the home,” Freni said.
Freni also advised customers to be aware of natural gas odors, which are similar to that of sulfur as a result of an added odorant for easier detection, and to follow the advice of Central Hudson’s natural gas odor safety slogan, Stop. Go. Let Us Know. Customers who think they smell natural gas should Stop: don't light or use a match, turn lights on or off, use a flashlight, cell phone, telephone, flush or run water, or turn on or off any other appliance or electric/electronic device; Go: leave the home or building immediately; and Let Us Know: by moving to another location and calling Central Hudson as soon as possible at (800) 942-8274, or emergency responders at 911. Natural gas odors detected outdoors or in public places should also be reported.
Customers can contact Central Hudson in a variety of ways, including logging on to http://www.cenhud.com/customer-service/contact-us/ and selecting their preferred form of communication, or by clicking on the green “Chat” tab on the right hand side of the page.
Visit www.CentralHudson.com for more information on winter safety, efficiency incentives, energy saving tips and billing options.
The fall is the perfect time to prepare homes for winter. All homes should be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector, and those currently using detectors should replace the batteries regularly. To learn of other safety measures, visit www.CentralHudson.com/Safety.