CUMBERLAND — October is Energy Awareness Month and Columbia Gas of Maryland reminds customers to follow some simple tips to reduce energy usage while still maintaining a warm and safe home.

Customers can visit www.ColumbiaGasMD.com to learn how to prepare their homes for winter, compare energy usage and increase their home’s energy efficiency.

To ensure that your home is ready for the cold weather:

· Make sure your furnace is inspected and operating properly and change or clean furnace filters to maximize air flow efficiency.

· Do not store flammable materials near a natural gas furnace, water heater or stove.

· Do not use stoves, ovens or outdoor grills as a source of indoor heat.

· Protect water pipes in outside walls — run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent  pipes from freezing.

· Check carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors to ensure they are operating according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

· Eliminate drafts with weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows.

Columbia Gas offers income-qualified customers energy savings with the Low Income Usage Reduction Program. For more information, visit https://www.columbiagasmd.com/energy-efficiency/for-your-home.

To manage cold weather heating bills effectively, Columbia Gas of Maryland offers a number of programs:

· The Budget Payment Plan can help reduce the impact of winter heating bills by spreading heating costs more evenly throughout the year. Visit https://www.columbiagasmd.com/bills-and-payments/billing-programs for more information.

· Assistance programs are available for income-qualified customers to help pay their natural gas bills. Visit https://www.columbiagasmd.com/bills-and-payments/financial-support/income-eligible-assistance-programs for more information.

If you smell the “rotten egg” odor of natural gas, follow these tips to stay safe:

· Evacuate immediately to a safe location and call 911.

· Do not operate anything that could cause a spark, including lights, cellphones, flashlights or appliances.

· Do not open the windows and doors in an attempt to ventilate.

· Do not try to find the leak or operate pipeline valves.

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