LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Southern California Gas Co. clients were urged today to use common sense when heating their homes this winter.

“With the cold and wet weather, we’re seeing an increase in the use of home heaters, and that translates into higher heating bills,” said Bret Lane, vice president of field services for SoCal Gas.

“To help keep a lid on heating costs while staying warm and dry this winter, we encourage customers to continue to practice conservation and use energy efficiently.”

SoCalGas offered these tips:
* Focus on the furnace. Home heating accounts for more than half of a typical customer’s monthly gas bill.

* When using the home furnace, lower the thermostat 3-5 degrees, health permitting, and turn it off when not home. This can help save up to 30 percent on heating costs.

* Check furnace filters every month during the heating season and clean or replace the filter when necessary. When installing a new or cleaned filter, be sure to re-install the front panel door of the furnace properly so it fits snugly.

* Never operate the furnace without the front-panel door properly in place because doing so may create the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

* Don’t block heating outlets or return registers with furniture or other objects.

* Repair cracks or broken seams in forced-air heating ducts.

* Install or upgrade attic insulation.

* Caulk and weather-strip drafty windows and doors.

* Open the drapes or blinds during the day and let the sun help warm the home. Close drapes or blinds at night to keep the warmth inside.

* Consider adding another blanket or two at night to stay warm.

* And choose a higher efficiency model when shopping for a new gas furnace.

Lane said customers can expect natural gas bills this winter to be slightly lower than last year.

A typical monthly bill for 83 therms of natural gas will be about $80 this winter, down about $1 from last year, Lane said.

For more information on conservation and simple home improvement tips, or to learn about customer assistance programs, customers can visit SoCalGas’ website at www.socalgas.com; or call SoCalGas at (800) 427-2200. Customers are asked to have their account number ready.