CenterPoint Energy continues to monitor the weather forecast, as Katy and the greater Houston area is expected to experience colder-than-normal temperatures later this week and into the weekend. The company is preparing for the upcoming weather conditions and wants customers to be prepared as well.
CenterPoint Energy encourages customers to have an emergency plan, particularly if they depend on electricity for life-sustaining equipment and natural gas or electricity to heat their homes. The company is offering these safety tips to help customers prepare as soon as possible:
- Make sure your heating system is working properly. Malfunctioning home heating equipment can cause a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Check that outside furnace vents aren’t blocked by snow or ice. Keep your furnace filter clean for safe, efficient operation.
- Use space heaters safely. Use a space heater with an automatic shut-off feature, and keep children, pets and all items at least three feet away. A space heater that uses gas, propane or wood should be vented to the outside. Stoves and ovens should never be used for space heating.
- Check your carbon monoxide (CO) and smoke alarms. These devices are essential to warn you of a fire or dangerous condition involving a furnace, water heater, fireplace or stove. Test your alarms monthly and change batteries as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Immediately report a suspected natural gas leak. If you smell the “rotten egg” odor of natural gas, immediately leave on foot, go to a safe location and call both 911 and CenterPoint Energy at 713-659-2111 or 800-752-8036. Don’t use electric switches/outlets, phones (including cell phones), drive or start a car inside or in close proximity to the location, or do anything that could cause a spark.
Cold temperatures also mean increased energy usage. CenterPoint Energy recommends the following tips for more efficient heating:
For a furnace, the largest natural gas consuming appliance, follow these tips:
- Set your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees. If possible, set it at 65 degrees when you are home and 60 degrees when you are away from home.
- Lowering your thermostat can help you save on your annual heating costs. Installing a programmable thermostat can help you automatically control your heat usage. Add on extra layers of clothing to keep warm.
- Change your air filters monthly. A dirty filter restricts airflow and can increase the operating cost of your furnace by as much as 10 percent. A good reminder is to change the filter each time you receive your natural gas bill.
Other appliances: Although they consume less natural gas, you can still maximize their efficiency. Run your washing machine, dishwasher and gas dryer only with full loads.
Make your home more airtight and keep cold air outside by following these steps:
- Seal leaks around doors, windows, and other openings such as pipes or ducts, with caulk or weather-stripping. The most common places where air escapes in homes are floors, walls, ceilings, ducts, fireplaces, plumbing penetrations, doors, windows, fans, vents and electrical outlets.
- If it has been a while, consider adding more insulation in your attic.
- On sunny days, open draperies and blinds to let the sun’s warmth in. Close them at night to insulate against the cold air outside.
Weather forecasters are not anticipating a precipitation event later this week and into the weekend. However, electric outages may be caused by high winds, with the potential of strong gusts on Thursday night. Always assume downed lines or wires are energized and potentially dangerous if contacted.
- Do not go near downed lines or fallen wires.
- Keep your distance from objects touching downed lines (tree limbs, vehicles, fences, etc.).
- If someone is actively being shocked due to contact with a power line, do not try to rescue them—you cannot help if you become a victim. Instead, call 911 immediately.
- Report downed power lines to 713-207-2222 or 800-332-7143.
- Never use an electricity generator inside your home or any other building.
CenterPoint Energy has taken steps and implemented measures to prepare and be ready for winter weather across greater Houston and surrounding communities. In addition, CenterPoint Energy is closely monitoring grid conditions and information from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
For the latest information on power outages: