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Green Sticker program heating up

While many Utahns are worried about rising prices at the pump, natural gas prices are also hitting close to home. By passing a safety and efficiency inspection for home gas furnaces and water heaters, Utahns will be seeing green — literally.

Representatives from groups involved in the signing of the Green Sticker Accord encouraged the public Thursday to get a professional tuneup for their furnaces, obtain a Green Sticker verifying adjustment and continue annual safety inspections.

"A more efficient appliance saves you money," said Brad Tanner, president of Triple T Heating & Cooling. "I'm convinced the homeowner will save that in their utility bill. Especially this year. It pays for itself."

But money isn't the only thing a safe furnace could save. Officials are encouraging Utahns to get a Green Sticker inspection because it could save their lives.

In 1998, the Utah Public Service Commission approved Questar's recommendations for new settings for local appliances. Questar had begun receiving natural gas from Utah instead of the previous resource of the Wyoming fields. The move caused a change in the composition delivered to Questar.

Consequently, customers have a June 2008 deadline to have their natural gas-burning appliances checked and possibly adjusted for safety and efficiency. After that time, Questar will stop treating its natural gas supplies and make the switch to the lower heating composition. Furnaces adjusted improperly may not burn the natural gas correctly and could produce excess carbon monoxide.

The various government, utility, gas and city safety groups met at the home of Pearl Anderson, 91, in Salt Lake, where Triple T had removed her 31-year-old cracked furnace and replaced it with a new furnace, Green Sticker-certified. Anderson's old furnace had cracks along the heating chamber and was only 50 percent efficient; her new furnace has 94 percent efficiency.

"I'm so happy and I hope the public will know know about it because it saved me. It could have killed me," Anderson said from her front porch. The cracks in the heating chamber could have caused a leak of carbon monoxide, putting herself, a renter downstairs and her dog, Suzy, in a deadly situation. "It's something you could easily put off that you shouldn't. Now, I know I'm safe."

The cost of a regular tuneup varies from $75-150 and should be done by a licensed technician. The life cycle of an average furnace is about 20 years, the air filter should be changed every six to eight weeks and flammable products should not be in the same room as a furnace, Tanner said.

For more information about the Green Sticker, go to www.questargas.com.


E-mail: astowell@desnews.com