More than 22,000 Pennsylvania households are entering the winter season without heat-related utility service or are using unsafe heating sources, according to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. About 64 percent of those households are in the Philadelphia area.

The statewide total represents a 9 percent reduction over 2015, but it is 4 percent higher than the average from 2011 to 2014, according to the PUC's annual cold-weather survey.

Peco reported a 29 percent reduction in customers without central heat, from 6,299 in 2015 to 4,465 this year. Philadelphia Gas Works reported that 9,574 of its 474,000 residential customers currently do not have natural-gas service, a 3.5 percent increase over 2015.

Gladys M. Brown, who chairs the PUC, urged customers without heat to contact their utilities to explore enrolling in assistance programs.