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CenterPoint Energy offers tips to prepare for the heating season
Proper maintenance of natural gas equipment recommended

MINNEAPOLIS - Oct. 07, 2009 - As the cold weather moves in, more people will be turning on their heaters to stay warm. CenterPoint Energy recommends customers call now to schedule an annual furnace tune-up. By scheduling a tune-up by a licensed professional, customers can ensure that the heating system and other gas appliances are operating safely and efficiently and avoid costly and inconvenient repairs.

Emergency response to incidents involving carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning typically increase with the onset of winter due to customers using their heating equipment more frequently and starting their cars in the garage. Fuel-burning appliances, equipment and combustible engines all produce CO that can reach dangerous levels if improperly operated or maintained.

CO is a poisonous gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and non-irritating. When inhaled, CO combines with the blood preventing proper absorption of oxygen which can cause illness and even death. Physical symptoms of CO exposure can resemble the flu causing headaches, nausea, fatigue, confusion and dizziness that disappear when a person breathes fresh air.

CenterPoint Energy recommends the following to prevent costly repairs and ensure safe and efficient operation:

  • Schedule an annual tune-up by a professional and change your air filters monthly to ensure that the heating system and other gas appliances are operating safely and efficiently, and to avoid costly and inconvenient repairs.
  • Check frequently for visible signs of problems, such as high indoor humidity, or soot or water collecting near a burner or vent.
  • Equipment that uses natural gas should produce a clear blue flame. A yellow or orange flame may indicate a problem and equipment should be checked by a qualified technician.
  • Be certain all fuel-burning appliances and equipment are properly vented to the outdoors, keeping vents, fresh air intake(s), and chimneys clear of debris or other obstructions.
  • Never operate an automobile or any combustion engine in an enclosed area such as your home, garage or fish house, even with the door open. A running car engine in your garage can travel into the structure and CO can accumulate.
  • Purchase a CO detection device with an audible alarm and digital display and install it no more than 10 feet from each bedroom as required by law.

If you suspect CO exposure, leave the area immediately taking your pets with you and tell others to do the same. Treatment for CO exposure is fresh air or oxygen. Severe exposure requires medical attention. Never enter an unventilated structure believed to have CO without proper personal protective equipment. Do not return to your home or building until the source of the problem is discovered and corrected. Once safely away from the area, the public should call 911 to report the suspected CO incident.

Get rebates for installation of energy saving equipment:

  • CenterPoint Energy's package of energy saving programs for efficient natural gas equipment can lower your energy use and operating costs, visit www.centerpointenergy.com/rebates.

Schedule a low-cost energy audit:

Call CenterPoint Energy:

  • Visit our Website at www.HSPtoday.com  if you need repair now or to avoid costly breakdowns in the future.
  • For more information about natural gas safety, visit our Website at www.centerpointenergy.com/besafe  or call 612-372-4727 or 1-800-245-2377.

CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution, competitive natural gas sales and services, interstate pipelines, and field services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas. Assets total nearly $19 billion. With about 8,800 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 135 years.  For more information, visit the Web site at www.CenterPointEnergy.com.

For more information contact:
Becca Virden
Phone 651.285-8129
Pager 612.538.1234