With winter weather at our doorstep, many Hoosiers are cranking up the thermostat and, consequently, their electric and natural gas bills as well. Anthony Swinger with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor said a home energy audit can go a long way toward helping residents reduce their energy use and better manage their heating bills.
According to Swinger, many consumers are eligible for a free assessment from Energizing Indiana.
“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 can really help add up,” said Swinger.
There are a few other things that can be done to keep heating bills down as well, like cleaning your furnace filter, checking your insulation, setting ceiling fans to turn clockwise at a low speed, and using a programmable thermostat to turn down the temperature when you are at work or sleeping.
If you’re low on cash and unable to pay a bill on time, Swinger advises contacting your utility company as soon as possible.
“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,” Swinger said.
Most natural gas and electric utility companies in the state also offer budget billing programs, which Swinger said help to balance your monthly bills, making it easier to plan ahead.
Another tip 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 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,” said Swinger.
Finally, Swinger advises switching to CFL bumps. Lighting can be expensive, he said, and these bulbs are more efficient, using only a fourth of the energy as traditional bulbs and lasting about ten times longer.