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Staying Warm: Power Companies Help Va. Prepare For Winter

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As temperatures continue to drop into the 20s, power companies are reminding D.C.-area residents of simple steps to stay warmer without spending extra on heating bills.

A worker from Dominion Virginia Power was chipping away at the inside of a gutter on Thursday, outside the second story of a townhome in Reston. Chunks of an asphalt-like mixture fall to the ground beneath his ladder.

Dominion's David Carpenter says it's not asphalt, just a year-old soup of decaying leaves and berries from the trees above the house. Carpenter says blocked gutters mean rain and melting snow just find other places to go.

"And what that will do, eventually, it will begin to flow down the walls and into the attic," he says.

And Carpenter says moisture wrecks insulation pretty quickly.

He and his Dominion colleagues were doing the work for free Thursday, and the homes they're working on are owned by Reston Interfaith and available to low-income families transitioning away from homelessness.

Shermila Khan, who lives in one of the homes with her husband and three children, watches as crews seal drafty light fixtures and windows.

She says no matter how high she turned up the heat this week, her family still felt cold.

"I have to put like 78-, 79-[degree] heat because it was so cold...and we sit in the living room with the blankets on," Khan says.

Thursday Dominion announced a $2.1 million donation to help needy families with energy and housing costs in 11 different states, and $130 thousand is staying in Northern Virginia.

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