As temperatures begin to drop, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) asks customers to prepare for a return to normal winter temperatures after mild winters during the past few years. Colder weather can cause heating systems to work harder in order to maintain comfort, increasing energy usage and average bills. To ensure that customers’ energy needs are met this winter, BGE has completed natural gas and electric infrastructure system upgrades throughout its service area.
“BGE’s commitment to reliably meeting our customers’ energy needs is vitally important during the cold, winter months,” said Stephen Woerner, president and chief operating officer of BGE. “Our employees work year-round to keep our systems running so our customers can live their lives without electric or gas service interruptions, no matter the weather. We also appreciate the efforts our customers take to prepare their homes and explore ways to use energy more efficiently and safely. This way they can better manage energy costs when temperatures drop.”
By the end of 2017, BGE will invest approximately $500 million in the natural gas system to provide safe and reliable service for customers. This work includes equipment inspections, repairs and replacements, preventive maintenance, and new construction such as recently completed pipelines along Veterans Highway in Anne Arundel County and in the Hamilton neighborhood of Baltimore City. Since 2010, major gas system reinforcements have also been installed in Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard counties.
BGE also replaces existing gas mains with durable new pipes that will deliver gas safely and reliably to communities well into the future. Part of this work is the replacement of cast iron and unprotected steel mains at an accelerated rate under BGE’s Strategic Infrastructure Development and Enhancement (STRIDE) gas system modernization plan. Through STRIDE, BGE will have replaced more than 150 miles of gas mains and more than 25,000 service pipes connecting customers to the gas system by the end of 2017. BGE has also secured natural gas contracts and filled its storage facilities to maintain gas supply for customers who purchase natural gas from BGE.
Electric system upgrades and maintenance in preparation for winter weather have occurred on schedule as part of the approximately $1.1 billion BGE is investing in the company’s electric system during 2017. In addition to inspecting more than 4,500 circuit miles of overhead power lines and more than 40,000 utility poles this year, the company is also taking steps to minimize the threat to power lines by trees weakened by heavy snows and winter storms with $24 million in vegetation trimming near overhead lines.
As BGE prepares for winter, customers are reminded to prepare as well by following these tips:
• Maintain Your Heating Systems – Most of your cold weather energy expenses are related to heating your home. Schedule service for your heating system to find out what maintenance is required to keep your system operating efficiently.
• Lower Your Water Heating Costs – Water heating accounts for about 18% of the energy consumed in your home. Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F) and save.
• Adjust the Temperature – When you are at home and awake, set your thermostat as low as it is comfortable for you. When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating bills. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature. If you have a heat pump, maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat specially designed for use with heat pumps.
• My Account Online Tools – Your BGE online account contains tools and detailed energy usage information. By tracking your energy usage right after you use it, comparing usage trends, and discovering the results of energy-saving practices, you can manage your energy more efficiently. Log onto BGE.com/MyAccount to get started.
• Keep Your Natural Gas Appliances Vents Clear – Know where your natural gas appliances vent to the exterior and ensure the vents are clear. Some high efficiency gas appliances, such as water heaters and furnaces, vent along the foundation of buildings. If these vents become blocked by snow or ice, exhaust may back up resulting in carbon monoxide build-up or a release of natural gas.
Customers should also explore the BGE Smart Energy Savers Program® to identify new ways to save energy, money and the environment. The program, which supports the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act, has provided $464 million in rebates to BGE customers and helped customers save more than 2.8 million megawatt-hours of electricity. EmPOWER Maryland programs are funded by a charge on your electric bill. EmPOWER programs can help you reduce your electricity consumption and save you money. Help in paying winter bills is also available to income-qualified customers. Call (800) 352-1446 or visithttp://www.dhr.state.md.us and click on “Services.”