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As Snow Falls And Temperatures Drop, Energy Consumption Doesn't Have To Rise

Pittsburgh, PA (1/31/2011) - As another winter storm with freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall threatens to wreak havoc on roads and with schools, homes and businesses in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest. Direct Energy, a competitive supplier of natural gas and electricity, reminds residential and business consumers that in addition to selecting the right energy plan, it is possible to keep energy usage and costs in-check during cold, snowy days, without sacrificing on comfort by following a few simple tips.

Safety first

The heavy, wet snow and ice that's blanketing the region creates concerns in and of itself, leading to power interruptions, unsafe driving conditions, and a heavy shovel.

  • Use caution with secondary heating/electrical devices: Equipment like generators, camping stoves, propane patio heaters, etc., should never be brought indoors due to the risk of fire, explosion, and poisoning. Follow manufacturers' directions carefully, using fuel-fired heating devices and generators outdoors in well-ventilated areas only.
  • Be mindful of candles and wood fires: A temporary outage can help set an early Valentine's Day mood for those who opt for candlelight and a cozy fire to get them through. Direct Energy reminds home- and business-owners to select their candle locations with safety in mind, ensure the chimney flue is open before starting their fire, and keep a close eye on children and pets who may be attracted by the dancing flames.
  • Avoid costly messes: Power interruptions can make it difficult, if not impossible, to keep homes and businesses heated. To avoid the costly mess of frozen water pipes, it is recommended that those faucets furthest from the pipes (or highest in the building) be left on at a slow drip to prevent freezing and breaking of the water pipes - which can be costly both in terms of repair and flooding damage.
  • Stay away from downed power lines: These can be "live" and quite dangerous. Contact your local utility to report any downed lines in your neighborhood.

Keeping usage in check during cold periods

With heavy snow accumulation or icy conditions can come interruptions to school and business hours, leaving many people house-bound. Overall, winter weather normally means an increase in energy usage. The following tips offer short- and long-term suggestions to address usage needs:

Quick Fixes

  • Unplug electronics, such as televisions or cell phone chargers, when not in use.
  • Seal your doors, windows and air ducts with weather-stripping or caulk.
  • Dress warmly or throw on an extra blanket when indoors and lower your thermostat; the US Department of Energy recommends setting the thermostat to 68?°F while you're awake and setting it lower while you're asleep or away from home in the winter. Their stats also reveal that you can save 5-15 percent a year on heating costs when the heat is set back 10°-15° for 8 hours - like when everyone's at work and school, for example.
  • Turn off heat or close vents in unused rooms and shut the doors.
  • Close curtains on windows that aren't receiving direct sunlight to keep the heat in the house.
  • Throw down a rug on exposed floors to keep comfort levels up on colder days - it helps ease the impulse to turn up the heat.
  • Change the direction of airflow on your ceiling fan. For those cold, winter months, the blades should operate in a clockwise direction, helping to push the warm air from the ceiling down into the room.
  • For an instant, low-cost and temporary alternative to glazed windows, attach cling film to your window frame and set it in place with a hair dryer.
  • Install covers on letterboxes and/or keyholes to reduce indoor drafts.
  • Don't lose heated air up your chimney! The chimney acts like an open window. Remember to close the chimney flue when the wood-burning fireplace isn't in use.

Lasting Fixes

  • Clean or replace your system's filter regularly to keep your heating and cooling system running smoothly and efficiently. A good rule of thumb is to clean or change your filter each time you pay your electricity bill.
  • Install a programmable thermostat which can automatically lower and raise your home's air temperature when you are at work or sleeping.
  • Have a professional, trained technician inspect your heating and cooling systems twice a year - in the spring, and in the fall. Preventative maintenance can avoid costly breakdowns and repairs, and extend the life of your home or business' systems.
  • Ensure cavity walls are filled with insulation, which could help you save money every year.
  • Check the attic insulation levels, or ask a professional to come in to check for you. Attic insulation prevents energy waste during both winter and summer months, so top up as needed.
  • Invest in a home or business energy audit to make sure you understand and can maximize improvements in those areas that will deliver the strongest and quickest return-on-investment.

About Direct Energy

Direct Energy is one of North America's largest energy and energy-related services providers with more than 6 million residential and commercial customer relationships. Direct Energy provides customers with choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services. A subsidiary of Centrica plc (LSE:CNA), one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, Direct Energy operates in 46 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and 10 provinces in Canada.

For additional information, contact:

Shabina Zakaria
Direct Energy

Claire Monaghan
Direct Energy

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