Snow, sleet, and ice have many Hoosiers turning up their thermostats, and those natural gas and electric bills can be expensive.
According to Anthony Swinger, director of external affairs at the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, a home energy audit can help residents reduce their energy use and better manage their heating bills. He noted that many consumers are eligible for free assessments from the Energizing Indiana program.
“They’ll send someone out, do a walk-through, spend some time with you and actually show you where in your home you can make improvements that will can really help and add up,” he said.
Other tips to keep heating bills down include clean furnace filters, checking your insulation, setting ceiling fans to turn clockwise at a low speed, and using programmable thermostats that turn down the temperature when you are at work or sleeping.
If you are facing financial hardship and can’t pay a bill on time, Swinger suggests reaching out to your utility company.
“The more proactive you are, the earlier you contact the utility, and the earlier you work out a payment arrangement and keep it, the better the odds are that you’ll keep those services connected,” he said.
Additionally, most Indiana natural gas and electric utilities offer budget billing programs, which he said provide for set monthly payments, making it easier to plan ahead.
Swinger pointed out that another easy way to save money is to cut back on what he refers to as “vampire power.”
“We’re talking about a cell-phone charger that’s plugged into the wall, but no phone is plugged in at the other end, or another a small appliance that you might keep plugged in that doesn’t really need to be plugged in, but it is using energy to some degree,” he specified.
Lighting can also be expensive, and Swinger suggested switching to CFL bulbs which are more efficient, using only a fourth as much energy as traditional incandescent bulbs, and lasting about ten times longer.