Winter’s almost official – Be prepared for cold weather

It’s getting cold in West Columbia. The first day of winter is Monday, less than a week away. With the cooler weather it is important to take precautions to be safe and warm. 

West Columbia Fire Chief Chris Smith said that the onset of winter is a good time to promote in-home safety as you prepare for the chill. Especially with stand-alone heaters.

WCFD Chief Chris Smith

“If you’re using a gas heater inside, be it propane, natural gas, or kerosene, be careful,” said Smith. “Use a heater designed for inside use and be sure you have a carbon-monoxide detector in the house.”

Smith said carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas produced by burning gas, wood, propane, or other fuel. Make sure the space where a heater is, is properly ventilated. Especially if you are in an enclosed space, that may allow carbon monoxide to accumulate to dangerous levels.

Smith also said it’s important to keep your heat source away from combustible materials.

“Take precautions so you don’t have a fire,” Smith said. That is true for fireplace users, too.

“Get your chimney cleaned if it needs to be,” said Smith, “to prevent chimney fires. Cleaning your chimney removes sticky deposits called creosote from the chimney walls. Creosote can be highly flammable and cause chimney fires.”

In addition to safety, it’s a good idea to make sure your home is winterized in order to conserve energy, save money and stay warm. Ginger Greenway is the manager of energy information services at Dominion Energy, the electric and gas utility for West Columbia. She said there is one important step to take to keep costs down in the winter.

“The simplest way to save on gas and energy costs is to manage your thermostat,” Greenway said. 

She recommends setting the temperature in your home at 68 degrees or lower. If that is not high enough, Greenway said set the heat level as close to 68 degrees as you can. She also said when you leave your home, turn the thermostat down. Don’t heat an empty house. Greenway said contrary to some beliefs, it does not cost more to re-heat, when you get back home. A programmable or smart thermostat can automatically lower the temperature to maximize savings.

Dominion Energy is also providing tips to help customers be more energy efficient while staying warm. 

Felicia Howard, Dominion VP

“Cooler temperatures have arrived, and many customers are spending more time at home and using natural gas to keep warm,” said Felicia Howard, vice president of gas operations for Dominion Energy South Carolina.

Other tips include:

  • Replace dirty air filters
  • Layer up. Consider wearing comfortable, cozy clothing and extra layers for additional warmth.
  • Check doors and windows for drafts. Caulk around windows and replace old weather stripping around doors to keep cold air out.
  • On sunny days, open curtains on sun-facing windows to allow sunlight to naturally heat the home. Close them at night to reduce any drafts.
  • Measure attic insulation. Ensure insulation is at least 12 inches deep. Add more insulation (R-38 or higher) if needed.

Dominion also offers payment plans and assistance:
If a customer is having trouble paying their bill, there are short-term payment extensions and long-term payment plans available, including an installment plan that spreads past due balances over a six-month period, with no interest.

Payment assistance is also offered through EnergyShare, which is funded with company contributions, along with donations from customers, employees and retirees.

More information is available at
For more ways to save, visit

Winter is upon us in West Columbia. Use these resources to make sure you are prepared to meet the season.