Minnesotans Urged To Use Caution With Natural Gas And Fuel Issues During Extreme Cold
SAINT PAUL – The extreme cold is having an impact on energy systems throughout the state. The Minnesota Department of Commerce is urging Minnesotans to exercise caution in dealing with electricity outages or issues involving natural gas or delivered fuel.
Emergency tips include:
Contact your utility immediately if you are experiencing a natural gas issue or electricity outage.
If you smell gas in your home, leave right away. A sulfur or rotten egg smell inside or near your home could be the odorant that is added to natural gas to help detect leaks. If you notice this smell, leave your home immediately. Do not turn any electrical devices on or off, do not use a garage door opener and never use any phone until you are outside and away. Then call your utility. In a life-threatening emergency, call 911.
Keep your fuel tank well supplied. Many Minnesotans depend on delivered fuel such as propane and heating oil. Tanks that are a quarter or less full may experience difficulty in receiving heat. Call your fuel supplier to fill your tank.
Stay tuned for weather-related energy news. Xcel Energy reported today that it is experiencing a significant strain on its natural gas system due to extreme weather conditions. In Becker, Big Lake, Chisago City, Lindstrom, Princeton and Isanti, Xcel is asking its customers to reduce their natural gas use by turning down their thermostats to 60 degrees or lower and avoiding use of other natural gas appliances, including hot water. Customers may want to use electric space heaters to help keep their homes warm.
Here are additional energy tips to ensure your health and safety:
- Make sure your home heating system is working properly. Check that outside furnace vents aren’t blocked by snow or ice.
- Keep your gas meter clear and dry. Keep the vent dry and clear of snow and ice at all times to avoid the potential for dangerous indoor natural gas buildup. The vent can become plugged when ice and snow melt during the day and refreeze at night.
- Use space heaters safely. Any space heater that burns with an open flame (such as natural gas, propane or wood) should be vented to the outside. Keep children, pets and flammable materials away from any portable heater. Never use an oven or candles to help heat your home.
- Make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors work. These are essential safeguards to warn you of a fire or dangerous malfunction with a furnace, water heater, fireplace or stove.
- Keep area around liquid propane tanks clean.
- Wrap pipes in insulation to prevent them from freezing. Let a trickle of warm water run from a faucet to keep water moving through your pipes.
- Don’t let your vehicle fuel tank get too low. The cold shouldn’t affect the quality or performance of your fuel. But it’s a safety issue because you don’t want to run out of gas on the road.
Minnesotans struggling to pay their heating bills are encouraged to apply for Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program. The program helps income-eligible households pay their heating bill or get fuel delivered. Last winter’s average grant per low-income household was about $545. Learn more about the Energy Assistance Program on the Commerce website (mn.gov/commerce) or by calling 1-800-657-3710.