The Public Utility Commission (PUC) says too many homes are headed into the coldest part of the year without heat from a utility service.
This year there appear to be about 15-hundred fewer homes without gas or electric services compared to last year’s survey.
And that count may be inflated as some homes are double-counted because they have neither gas nor electric services.
But the observed lack of utility services in nearly 16-thousand households could lead people to resort to potentially unsafe heating sources.
PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher says the survey turned up about two-thousand such households in Pennsylvania.
"They’re using space heaters, many of them are using ovens, fireplaces, kerosene heaters, those types of things, that are a fire hazard. We would rather see them work with a utility, get on a payment plan."
Kocher said utility representatives are calling, writing, and visiting people whose electricity or gas has been shut off.
"And what they are doing is providing information to those customers on how to get service turned back on so that these customers are not going into the coldest part of the year without utility service and heat-related utility service."
Major utilities provide discounted service to qualifying low-income customers. Another program helps people shrink their utility bills by installing energy-saving devices. And the state provides grants for paying heating bills through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
After January second, LIHEAP will offer emergency grants to qualifying families that are in immediate danger of being without heat because of broken equipment or disconnected services.