Xcel: Turn down your heat

Updated: 5:58 p.m. | Posted: 9:13 a.m.

Xcel Energy says the extreme cold has caused some customers to lose natural gas service in central Minnesota and has the utility issuing an appeal to all Minnesota customers to turn down their thermostats.

Utility spokesman John Marshall says about 150 customers in Princeton lost heat as temperatures dipped into the negative 20 range Tuesday night. Marshall says the cold weather is increasing natural gas consumption and taxing the equipment.

Marshall says Xcel workers are doing door-to-door with local law enforcement to check on those affected. Some spent the night in a hotel. Meanwhile, the utility is asking its Minnesota customers to turn down their thermostats to 63 through Thursday morning in order to reduce consumption and avoid further outages.

The service is anticipated to be back on Thursday.

Energy tips to ensure your health and safety

• Make sure your home heating system is working properly: Check that outside furnace vents aren't blocked by snow or ice.

• Keep your gas meter clear and dry: Keep the vent dry and clear of snow and ice at all times to avoid the potential for dangerous indoor natural gas buildup. The vent can become plugged when ice and snow melt during the day and refreeze at night.

• Use space heaters safely: Any space heater that burns with an open flame (such as natural gas, propane or wood) should be vented to the outside. Keep children, pets and flammable materials away from any portable heater. Never use an oven or candles to help heat your home.

• Make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors work: These are essential safeguards to warn you of a fire or dangerous malfunction with a furnace, water heater, fireplace or stove.

• Keep area around liquid propane tanks clean.

• Wrap pipes in insulation to prevent them from freezing: Let a trickle of warm water run from a faucet to keep water moving through your pipes.

• Don't let your vehicle fuel tank get too low: The cold shouldn't affect the quality or performance of your fuel. But it's a safety issue because you don't want to run out of gas on the road.

Source: Minnesota Department of Commerce

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