Atlanta Gas Light Reminds Consumers of Energy Assistance Availability
January 17, 2007
ATLANTA, Jan. 17-- The latest cold snap has Georgians reaching for their thermostats. With more cold weather expected, Atlanta Gas Light is reminding low- and fixed-income customers that energy assistance is available.
"We want to spread the word and make our low- and fixed-income consumers aware that they can get help with their energy payments by taking advantage of assistance programs that are available," said Suzanne Sitherwood, president of Atlanta Gas Light. "Many times people don't know where to turn for help, but assistance is available from a variety of sources, such as the Georgia Department of Human Resources, the United Way and the Salvation Army."
The Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) will provide financial assistance with heating bills for the low-income, elderly and disabled. DHR's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has received $17.9 million in federal funds to help applicants in all three categories with heating bills. The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) also has allocated $3 million to supplement the federal dollars.
To qualify, energy assistance applicants must have a yearly household income less than or equal to 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, which are published each year by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Payments are to be made directly to the home energy supplier for natural gas, electricity, propane, wood, coal or kerosene. Qualifying applicants will receive payments of either $174 or $220. Funds allocated by the PSC can be used only for natural gas bills.
Two additional programs, the Heating Energy Assistance Team (HEAT Inc.) and Project SHARE, are funded in part by private donations. Established in 1983 by Atlanta Gas Light, HEAT Inc. is funded by corporate and private donations. HEAT provides energy assistance to individuals who qualify for state assistance. Project SHARE, a program of The Salvation Army provides year-round emergency assistance to Georgians who need help with basic necessities -- housing, food, medical care and utility services. The program assists the elderly as well as individuals who are disabled, unemployed, sick or who are experiencing financial hardship.
"We also want to remind consumers that there are some simple conservation measures that can significantly reduce a family's energy costs," Sitherwood continued. "By weatherizing their homes, homeowners can maximize home heating efficiency and benefit from substantial savings on their energy bills."
Heat that escapes homes through leaky windows and doors is a significant source of energy loss. Atlanta Gas Light estimates that these leaks require heating units to work 30 to 40 percent harder. Inexpensive caulk, spray-foam and weather stripping can keep cold air from blowing in. Leaky air ducts should be taped or sealed, and ducts in the attic or crawl space should be insulated. Also, since warm air rises, make sure the attic is adequately insulated.
Consumers should schedule an inspection of their home heating system with a licensed contractor at least once a year. Homeowners can save as much as a couple hundred dollars by making sure heaters are running at peak efficiency.
According to Sitherwood, natural gas heating systems and appliances offer homeowners the highest total energy efficiency.
"Today's high-efficiency natural gas furnaces feature technology that boosts efficiency to save money and improve comfort," she said. "A gas water heater delivers up to twice the hot water in the same amount of time as an electric water heater and a natural gas dryer can dry two loads of towels in the same time as one load in an electric dryer."
Consumers who wish to make the switch to natural gas can take advantage of several money saving offers by visiting the rebates and promotions section of the Atlanta Gas Light Web site, http://www.atlantagaslight.com. Additionally, federal tax credits are available to consumers and businesses that implement weatherization measures this year and purchase energy-efficient appliances and products.
"We want to make certain that all our customers stay warm this winter," Sitherwood said. "Customers who are struggling to pay their utility bills are encouraged to take steps to reduce their energy costs and learn how to get the assistance they need."
For more information on LIHEAP, contact the Georgia Department of Human Resources at 404-657-3426 in metro Atlanta and 1-800-869-1150 outside Atlanta or visit http://www.state.ga.us/departments/dhr/energy.html.
Contact Georgia's Heating Energy Assistance Team (HEAT Inc.) at 678-406-0212.
For more information on Project SHARE, contact the Salvation Army at 404-873-3101 in metro Atlanta and 1-800-257-4273 outside Atlanta or http://www.salvationarmy-georgia.org.
Families and individuals looking for assistance with their heating costs also can dial 2-1-1, a service of United Way, for referral to an assistance program.
Winter Weatherization Tips
Making homes more energy-efficient is a way to save on your energy bills. The investment of an hour with a caulking gun and some extra insulation will pay off for you, as a homeowner.
Some easy ways to save: About AGL Resources
1. Add weatherstripping and caulking to doors and windows. As much as 30 to 40 percent of a home's energy load is attributed to outside air penetrating the house.
* Add weatherstripping tapes that adhere directly to door or window frames for a tight seal.
* Fit foam or rubber weatherstripping into the gaps around your doors or windows. * Install rubber or foam bottom seals under doors.
* Add a door sweep to seal the gap at the bottom of a door from drafts.
2. Change disposable air filters in your furnace once a month.
3. Have your furnace inspected by a professional at least once a year.
4. Check for appropriate insulation around the pipes, walls, attic and floor. Choose the right R-value, which is a measure of insulating power. Higher R-values mean greater insulating power, which provides greater household energy savings and cost savings. Look for R-values on insulation packaging or talk to a Natural Gas Advantage professional.
5. Turn down the water heater's thermostat setting to about 120 degrees and switch to "vacation" setting when you'll be away for a few days. * When washing clothes, use warm or cold water -- not hot -- and rinse with cold water. * Install a low flow showerhead. Showers use less hot water than baths.
6. Use a programmable thermostat. Set at 68 degrees during the day, 65 degrees at night and 55 degrees when no one is home.
7. Close off unoccupied rooms and close heating vents.
8. Use exterior doors farthest from the thermostat.
9. Use the sunlight to warm rooms. Close drapes and blinds at night to retain heat.
10. Wear more layers of clothing and warmer, insulated clothing while indoors.
11. Put extra blankets or a down comforter on the bed.
12. Make sure that dishwashers, washing machines and dryers are fully loaded before running.
13. When it's time to replace appliances, choose those with high-energy efficiency ratings.
14. Install storm or thermal windows and doors. Energy Saving Tips Follow these tips to help reduce your energy use: Water
* Lower the temperature setting on your water heater to 120 degrees. Check your owner's manual if you have a dishwasher. Certain model dishwashers require a higher temperature to clean effectively.
* Fix leaky faucets.
* Install low volume showerheads and faucets if you have an older home. Newer homes are required to have these restricted flow devices as part of the building code.
* Install a water heater insulation wrap around the sides of the water heater. Never put insulation on the top of the heater or near the bottom.
* Use the proper water level setting on your clothes washer for the size load of clothes. This helps save on your water bill too. Clothes Dryer
* Separate heavier clothes (towels, heavy cottons) from the lightweight fabrics (synthetics) for more efficient drying.
* Only do full loads, but be sure not to overload the dryer. Select the proper setting and time for the type and size load.
* Clean the lint filter before every load. Refer to your owner's manual.
* Don't add wet clothes during the drying cycle.
* Don't over dry clothes. Use the automatic moisture control if your dryer has one, or select the appropriate amount of time on the automatic timer.
* Be sure the outside vent is free of any obstructions and the vent cover fully opens when the dryer is in use. Cooking
* Cover pots and pans with lids when cooking.
* Cook food at high heat to bring to temperature then reduce to complete cooking.
* Adjust the flame to fit the bottom of the pot or pan. Turning up the flame beyond the bottom only wastes energy.
* Keep burner surfaces clean. Heating
* Add insulation to the attic.
* Lower the thermostat when no one is home. Install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature each day.
* Clean or replace all filters at least once per month.
* Have the system inspected and maintained regularly.
* Keep all heating and return vents free of all obstructions for proper air flow.
For more information:
Atlanta Gas Light: http://www.atlantagaslight.com
American Gas Association: http://www.aga.org
National Association of Home Builders: http://www.nahb.org
U.S. Department of Energy: http://www.eren.doe.gov
AGL Resources, an Atlanta-based energy services holding company, serves 2.2 million customers in six states through its utility subsidiaries -- Atlanta Gas Light, Elizabethtown Gas in New Jersey, Virginia Natural Gas, Florida City Gas, Chattanooga Gas, and Elkton Gas in Maryland. Ranked by Forbes as one of the 10 Best Managed Utilities and No. 250 in the Forbes Platinum 400 as well as No. 647 on the Fortune 1000 and No. 40 in the Fortune gas and electric utilities sector in 2006, AGL Resources reported revenue of $2.7 billion and net income of $193 million in 2005. The company also owns Houston-based Sequent Energy Management, an asset manager serving natural gas wholesale customers throughout the East and Midwest. As a 70 percent owner in the SouthStar partnership, AGL Resources markets natural gas to consumers in Georgia under the Georgia Natural Gas brand. AGL Networks, the company's telecommunications subsidiary, owns and operates fiber optic networks in Atlanta and Phoenix. The company also owns and operates Pivotal Jefferson Island Storage & Hub, a high-deliverability natural gas storage facility near the Henry Hub in Louisiana. For more information, visit http://www.aglresources.com
. About Atlanta Gas Light
Atlanta Gas Light, a wholly owned subsidiary of AGL Resources, provides delivery service to more than 1.5 million customers in Georgia. In operation since 1856, the company is one of the oldest corporations in the state. For more information, visit http://www.atlantagaslight.com
CONTACT: AGL Resources Jack Holt, 404-584-4255 Cell: 404-217-0284 firstname.lastname@example.org SOURCE AGL Resources