NEWARK—PSE&G, New Jersey’s largest electric and gas utility, is closely monitoring weather conditions and preparing for frigid temperatures expected in our region over the next several days. The utility will have extra personnel and supplies on hand to ensure that electric and gas weather-related emergencies are handled safely and promptly.
On a typical winter day, PSE&G receives 2,000 calls from customers without heat. With this week’s forecasted low temperatures, the utility anticipates an exceptionally high number of calls from customers with insufficient or no heat.
Customers without heat should call 1-800-350-PSEG (7734). PSE&G uses an automated system to handle calls as efficiently as possible. Customers who get the automated response system when calling should not hesitate to use it, as it is designed to both complete simple customer requests and to route calls appropriately if the customer selects the option to speak directly to a customer service representative.
The company is staffing its call centers with additional customer service professionals and extending the work hours of service technicians to handle the anticipated increase in work load.
Customers With Insufficient Heat
In many cases customers call because of insufficient heat – their furnaces are working but are having difficulty handling the extremely low temperatures. Although the company is sensitive to customers’ heating inquiries, insufficient heat is not always caused by defective heating equipment. The colder it is outside, the harder the heating system must work to satisfy the same thermostat setting. The heat loss in a home may exceed the output capacity of the heating system. At times like this, the room temperature may not reach the thermostat setting, especially if the thermostat is raised to a higher than normal setting.
To keep comfortable and retain heat inside the home, customers may do the following:
• Seal up openings that let in cold air around and under doors and windows.
• Make sure all storm windows are down and tightly closed.
• Lower thermostats serving unused rooms.
• Close dampers in unused fireplaces.
• Move furniture and drapes away from heating registers, radiators, and baseboard element covers.
• Open any register or baseboard dampers.
• Replace dirty or clogged air filters in warm air heating systems.
• Check for sufficient water levels in the sight glass for steam systems.
• Do not try to use a gas oven or range to heat a room. The appliance will deplete oxygen from the air, causing asphyxiation or deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Be cautious when using space heaters. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and heed warning labels. Be sure all members of the household understand how to operate space heaters safely.
You May Experience Higher Than Normal Bills
Your heating system works harder and therefore uses more natural gas when it is extremely cold outside. Even though your thermostat setting may not have changed, high usage during cold spells will result in higher-than-normal bills. To help manage the fluctuating cost, customers can take advantage of the utility’s Equal Payment Plan. PSE&G residential customers can enroll by calling the utility’s toll-free customer service line at 1-800-436-PSEG (7734.)
Customers also are encouraged to see if they are eligible for financial assistance in paying their heating bills. Two programs that can assist are NJ SHARES (NJS) and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). NJS is geared to those who are not low income. Funds are available on a first come, first served basis, so PSE&G encourages customers to act promptly. For information about NJ SHARES, call 1-866-NJSHARES or visit njshares.org.
The LIHEAP program is based on family size and last month’s salary and is geared to those who are lower income, newly unemployed or whose work hours have been cut as the result of the economic downturn. Applications for LIHEAP are available at PSE&G customer service centers listed on your bill. To determine if you qualify and find out where to apply, call the toll free number 2-1-1.
Information about these and other vital assistance programs is available on PSE&G’s Web site at www.pseg.com/help.