Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Groups Urge Citizens To Keep Heating Systems Efficient


Be bold against the cold.

Fuel to heat our homes can mean high bills. And heating increases the risks of fire, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. But a heating system that works efficiently can mean more warmth, more safety and more money left for other things.

The Evansville-Vanderburgh County Building Commission, Evansville Fire Department, Vanderburgh County township fire departments, American Red Cross, Vectren Corp. and local heating and air conditioning contractors want to alert the citizens of Evansville and Southwestern Indiana to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and explosions from a malfunctioning furnace, a blocked flue or chimney, a broken gas line or inadequate air for combustion.

There may be hidden damage to your furnace, gas piping, flue or chimney. Everyone should have their furnaces, space heaters, ranges, water heaters, gas lines, chimneys, flues and other heating equipment checked by a licensed heating contractor without delay.

Carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in the air we breathe when fuel-burning equipment is operating and the vent or chimney is obstructed – or there is not enough air to let the equipment burn fuel efficiently. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and tasteless, and it catches its victims unaware, sometimes as they sleep. If you suspect a carbon monoxide problem, leave your home and call 911 or your local fire department.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to the flu, including headache, dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath. There may be fatigue and confusion. You may go to sleep and never wake up.

Always use portable generators outdoors, far away from the home and any openings.

Candle fires also have killed families. Be careful using candles during power outages and other times! And make a family fire escape plan.

Help alert your family with carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors, available at all hardware stores, home centers and department stores. Regularly test detectors and change the batteries.

Assistance available

The following agencies and businesses can help you with home-heating and related issues:

American Red Cross volunteers will install free smoke detectors, test existing detectors and talk briefly about fire prevention. The Red Cross also installs specialized bedside alarms for residents who are deaf or hard of hearing. Call 812-471-7200.

Evansville Urban Enterprise Association offers free carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors, while supplies last, to residents of the Enterprise Zone and the service areas outside the zone who have not received them in the past. Call 812-426-2490.

Community Action Program of Evansville (CAPE) handles the Indiana Weatherization Assistance Program in Vanderburgh, Posey and Gibson counties. (Every county in Indiana has an agency for the weatherization program.)  CAPE may repair or replace faulty heating equipment and make other energy-efficient improvements. CAPE also helps with heating bills. CAPE has income limits. Call 812-425-4241.

Memorial Community Development Corp. offers emergency home repairs. The program covers repairs urgently needed to protect the residents. The home must be occupied by the owner, and there are income limits. Call 812-402-5530.

Vectren Corp. has details on no-cost home energy assessments and energy-saving products, income-qualified weatherization and rebates for purchases of qualifying furnaces, programmable thermostats, insulation and duct sealing. Call toll-free 1-866-240-8476 or visit

Community One offers volunteer-based basic home repairs and weatherization to low-income people who own and occupy their homes, especially the elderly and disabled. Ca;; 812-250-6888.

Handy Chore will change furnace filters, install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, provide fire extinguishers, make some windows and doors weathertight, repair storm doors and outer doors and pump out flooded basements. Handy Chore serves homeowners who are disabled or at least age 60. Call SWIRCA & More at 812-464-7817.

Faith-based organizations (including Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Evansville and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul), social agencies and township trustees may help with heating bills and needs. Call Catholic Charities at 812-423-5456. Call St. Vincent de Paul at 812-425-3485.