HARRISBURG –  With winter’s cold in mind, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has reminded consumers to review conservation and safe heating tips.

Severe cold temperatures put extra demands on utility systems, but energy conservation helps. Try these energy-saving tips:

Use a programmable thermostat and set it to lower the temperature at night or whenever the house is unoccupied.

Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible, including overhead doors on attached garages.

Seal off unused rooms – Close the floor or wall registers and return air vents, and keep the doors closed in those areas.

Open south-facing window curtains, drapes and blinds during the day. Close coverings at night to help contain heat.

Instead of turning up the heat, add an extra blanket or sweater, if your health permits.

Seal leaks around windows and doors with weather stripping or caulk.

For additional energy conservation tips, visit the PUC website.

Additionally, the Commission urges special care regarding supplemental room heaters. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than one-fifth of residential fires are related to the use of supplemental room heaters, including wood- and coal-burning stoves, kerosene heaters, gas space heaters and electric heaters. A list of home heating safety tips is available on the PUC website.

Residents are also reminded to check on neighbors, especially the elderly.

If someone is without heat-related utility service, help them call their local utility to obtain information about programs available to restore and maintain utility service.

Since October, the PUC has been reminding consumers to “Prepare Now” for high winter energy costs. The Prepare Now campaign encourages consumers on limited or fixed incomes to call their utility about programs to help heat their homes or pay their energy bills such as Customer Assistance Programs (CAPs) and Low Income Usage Reduction Programs (LIURP). It also appeals to the companies to increase efforts to educate consumers about other programs, such as grants under the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) – which is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS).

Consumers should call their utility first. If they are unable to reach an agreement with the utility, the PUC may be able to provide assistance. The PUC can be reached toll-free at 1-800-692-7380.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.