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Archive: Jan 2021

Counting Down to the Cool Down

Posted on: January 21, 2021

Cool Down

Imagine the stress of approaching the cold months with an apprehension that goes beyond snowy roads and is instead derived from the question no family should have to ask: will I make it through the winter? Limited-income families in our city are trying to keep their homes warm so their children can sleep at night. They are struggling to keep their pipes from freezing so they can shower and cook dinner. They will stretch their thin incomes and still not come up with the necessary funds to stay warm. But, you can help!

Dollar Energy Fund’s Cool Down for Warmth, powered by Dynegy, will host its 7th annual event virtually on Thursday, January 28 in partnership with KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today Live (PTL). The annual ice house will not be constructed in the middle of Market Square, but the goal of this televised campaign remains the same – to build awareness of the many families who will go without heat during the harsh winter months, while attempting to raise money for utility assistance grants.

There are many ways you can get involved and help a neighbor in need:

Sign up to participate as a fundraiser in the Cool Down for Warmth event. Create a team on CrowdRise and reach out to co-workers, family, and friends to work toward raising funds for your neighbors in need.

Make a secure, tax-deductible donation on CrowdRise. All donations will receive a dollar-for-dollar match from our partnering utility companies and 100% of the donations and matching funds will be used to provide utility assistance grants to local families in need through Dollar Energy Fund’s Hardship Program.

Help us spread the word! Share our fundraising page on social media with the hashtag #CoolDownforWarmth to show your support.

Watch Pittsburgh Today Live (PTL) on KDKA-TV during the week of January 25th to hear from our partners and learn more about our mission. Get an inside look at the construction of an ice news desk by Mastro Gourmet Quality Ice!

 

 

Cool Down

Cool Down for Warmth Goes Virtual as COVID-19 Increases Need for Utility Assistance

Posted on: January 13, 2021

Cool Down

Dollar Energy Fund’s Cool Down for Warmth, powered by Dynegy, will host its 7th annual event virtually to raise funds and awareness for those in our region who struggle to afford the cost of heat-related utility services. The event will take place on Thursday, January 28, in partnership with KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today Live (PTL), and will provide an opportunity for the community to make a donation in support of local families by calling 1-800-823-WARM between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. or by visiting www.dollarenergy.org/cooldownforwarmth2021.

The Cool Down for Warmth typically includes the construction of a large ice house in Market Square that is open to the public, but the organization had to change plans due to COVID-19. This year, ice structures by Mastro Gourmet Ice will be built and carved in Gateway Center and showcased during PTL’s 9:00 a.m. live broadcast on January 28. The public will not be able to view the structures in person.

“While circumstances prevent us from hosting our event as we normally do, we are committed to continuing our efforts to raise awareness and funds for households in our region that are in need of utility assistance during this difficult time.” said Chad Quinn, Dollar Energy Fund’s CEO. “With many facing unprecedented financial uncertainty amid COVID-19, our program may be the only support for those who are struggling to afford basic, heat-related utility services. We encourage anyone interested in learning more about Dollar Energy Fund to tune into PTL and see how they can help spread the warmth to their neighbors.”

All online and phone donations will receive a dollar-for-dollar match from Dollar Energy Fund’s partnering utility companies, which includes Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Duquesne Light Company, Peoples Natural Gas and West Penn Power, A FirstEnergy Company. Funds collected will go directly to support local families who are struggling to restore or maintain basic utility service.

This year’s Cool Down for Warmth event is sponsored by Dynegy, UPMC, Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, First Commonwealth Bank, EQT and BNY Mellon.

Pittsburgh business and community members, including teams from AEC Group, Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, First Energy, PA Bar Association’s Utility Law Section, members of Dollar Energy Fund’s Board of Directors and other supporters, are utilizing an online crowdfunding platform to raise funds in support of the cause. Donations can be made in support of their efforts by visiting https://charity.gofundme.com/donate/event/cooldownforwarmth2021.

Since the first Cool Down for Warmth in 2015, $1.6 million has been raised to benefit 4,500 households in western Pennsylvania.

 

About Dollar Energy Fund, Inc.

Dollar Energy fund was founded in 1983 and has grown to become the largest hardship fund in Pennsylvania and one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States. Dollar Energy Fund is a 501 (c) 3 organization in the state of Pennsylvania. Since 1983, the organization has provided $170 million in utility assistance grants to more than 605,000 limited-income families and individuals. The organization also assists limited-income households in West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, California, Connecticut, Indiana and Nebraska. Individuals interested in contributing to Dollar Energy Fund can do so through their utility bills, by sending donations directly to Box 42329, Pittsburgh, PA 15203 or through the organization’s website. Additional information can be found on Dollar Energy Fund’s website, www.dollarenergy.org.

Winter Energy-Saving Tips

Posted on: January 1, 2021

winter energy-saving tips

Use these energy-saving tips to help you save money while staying warm and safe this winter:

 

Cover drafty doors and windows

Special plastic sheeting kits come with handy pieces of plastic and double-sided tape you need to secure drafty windows. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce air flow. Use a hairdryer on the plastic to vacuum the seal. You can also replace worn weatherstripping, adjust the door thresholds for a tighter fit, and get a door sweeper that will help block out larger drafts. If a playing card fits the crevice of an outside door or window, you need more weather stripping.

Close your curtains and blinds at night

Temperatures always drop more at night due to the lack of the sun’s energy. Close your curtains at night to reduce the chill you may feel. It may even be worth the investment to get heavier drapes that will provide you with more thermal protection. Don’t use a permanent solution, such as heavy landscaping, because opening the curtains and letting the sun in will warm your home during the day.

Adjust your thermostat

Set your thermostat for 68 degrees. Each degree above that adds to your cost, and setting it higher won’t heat your home any faster. A five-degree lower setting will conserve energy when you plan to be away for many hours.

Reduce heat loss from your fireplace

Make sure your chimney is clear of any debris and inspect your damper to make sure it opens and closes as needed. Be sure to close the damper tightly whenever the fireplace is not in use. Also, invest in tempered glass doors to prevent the warmed air in your home from escaping up the chimney while the fireplace is operating. Most importantly, if you don’t use your fireplace at all, have it professionally plugged and sealed.

Reverse your ceiling fan

Look for a small toggle switch on the fan. After switching it, the blades should be running clockwise. To make sure, stand directly under the fan. You shouldn’t feel a breeze. Running the fan in reverse creates an updraft that sends warmer air pooled near the ceiling back down into the living space.

Use LED holiday lighting

Holiday lights can dramatically increase your electric bill. LED lights are more energy-efficient and last longer than incandescent bulbs. LEDs are also much cooler so there is less risk of fire or injury. LEDs use less power so it’s possible to connecting multiple strings end-to-end safely.

Protect your water pipes

If your pipes aren’t insulated, run water, even at a trickle, to help prevent your pipes from freezing. Even better, save money in the long run by insulating all pipes. Also, open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. 

Avoid unsafe heating sources

Households without utility heat often rely on unsafe heating sources, such as kerosene heaters, kitchen stoves or ovens, electric space heaters, and neglected fireplaces. Avoid these methods! Contact your utility company or Dollar Energy Fund immediately so we can help you restore and maintain a safer heating source.

Be prepared for inclement winter weather and shut offs

Always have extra blankets, flashlights, portable radios, and a supply of fresh batteries on hand if the power should go off. Report outages to your utility company immediately and get help. (Do not call 911 to report a utility outage.)

Winter storms and ice may cause downed power lines

If you see a downed power line, immediately call your utility company and/or 911. Do not touch trees or limbs on power lines. Stay away from all objects and puddles near power lines. When crews arrive, give them plenty of space to do their work.

Safety is the #1 priority

Check your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors to ensure they are operating properly. Make sure your natural gas meter is visible at all times and accessible for maintenance and emergency responders. Where possible, use a broom instead of a shovel to clear snow away from the natural gas meter to prevent damage. Keep flammable items away from heating vents and sources, such as bedding, clothing, curtains, and rugs.

 

For more tips and tricks to save money this winter, follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

Sources: Peoples Natural Gas; AEP Ohio; Columbia Gas; PA Public Utility Commission

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2,786 Service Restorations During Our 2019-2020 Program Year