Sep 192002
Authors: Willow Welter

With winter approaching, many students who live off campus will soon turn their furnaces back on. Recognizing the financial and safety issues concerned with natural gas heating is vital to staying protected and warm this winter.

Xcel Energy, the natural gas company many Fort Collins residents use to heat their houses and apartments, will reduce its rates by 9 percent for residential customers starting Oct. 1.

Mark Stutz, a media relations advisor for Xcel Energy, said this reduction in prices results mainly from over-collection.

“Our projections for what we would spend last year were higher than what we actually spent,” Stutz said.

Xcel Energy expects a typical residential customer bill to average $37.36 per month over the next 12 months, based on typical usage.

Amanda Loftus, a junior psychology major, said heating her 2-bedroom apartment last winter cost anywhere from $30-$80 per month.

“I just tried to keep the thermostat around 58 degrees during the day to save money,” Loftus explained. “Then I’d turn it way up when I got home.”

Besides financial matters introduced during winter months, safety concerns also arise.

Dave Ruff, general Manager of Service Experts, a heating and air conditioning company, said while having a carbon monoxide detector is important, no immediate danger necessarily arises simply from turning a furnace back on. He also stressed there are other, simpler ways to ensure a furnace functions properly.

“Make sure the filter is clean,” Ruff suggested. “Most furnaces have an inexpensive, disposable filter that you can change by yourself.”

Loftus said she does not have a carbon monoxide detector in her apartment, but will probably buy one soon.

“My mom has been calling lately and won’t stop hounding me to get one,” Loftus said with a smile. “So I’ll probably listen to her, just this once.”

Students wishing to turn their furnaces on can find replacement filters at stores such as Wal-Mart or K-Mart, Ruff said.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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