Tips to save on electric costs in cold temperatures - WSMV Channel 4

Tips to save on electric costs in cold temperatures

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With temperatures like these, there is probably no way around having to use some extra heat, but electric workers say there are some things we can do to help keep the bill from skyrocketing too much. With temperatures like these, there is probably no way around having to use some extra heat, but electric workers say there are some things we can do to help keep the bill from skyrocketing too much.
SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) - Temperatures are down in the Heartland, so many people are turning their heat up. However, that means utility bills are also going up.

With temperatures like these, there is probably no way around having to use some extra heat, but electric workers say there are some things we can do to help keep the bill from skyrocketing too much.

Glen Cantrell with SEMO Electric Cooperative said things like space heaters can really make people's bills go up.

Cantrell said if you're not going to be home throughout the day, it's a good idea to turn your heat down, but not too low. He said putting the thermostat at about 65 degrees when you're not home helps save on electric costs while keeping the heater from having to play catch up when you get home.

He also said to consider isolating the heat to certain rooms of your home.

"Seal off rooms that you're not using," Cantrell said. "Even go as far as shutting off some of the registers within that room if you're not going to be using it. Simple things like putting a towel down in front of the door, you know, using things to cover up the windows [can help keep bills down]. Let the sunshine in the day to help heat the home."

Cantrell said to keep in mind that these cold temperatures are temporary. He said making these small changes for a few days can really make a difference.

Cantrell said safety is also a huge concern in this freezing cold weather. He said linemen are constantly aware of the possibility of things like frostbite. Cantrell reminds everyone to be cognizant of the dangers of these cold temperatures.

David Armstrong, Chairman of the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) says consumers can limit the impact on their home heating bills by taking steps to reduce energy consumption.

“It’s never too late to seal leaks around windows, door and other openings, to cover windows with plastic sheeting, and to take other low-cost steps to keep cold air out and warm air in,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong also emphasized that programs are available to help consumers who may be struggling to pay their heating bill. Heating assistance is available from local community action agencies and from utility companies, but funds are limited and sometimes run out during the heating season.

“Do not allow a difficulty in paying a utility bill to become a crisis,” Armstrong said. “Now is the time to take the necessary steps if you think that you may need assistance in paying your heating bill this winter.”

Consumers can take a number of steps to reduce energy usage or to soften the impact of heating costs. They include:

  • Budget billing: This option allows customers to pay the same amount each month, based on their average monthly usage during the year. Customers should contact their utility for more information.
  • Energy conservation measures: Simple steps such as turning down water heaters (120 degrees is hot enough for nearly all uses) can be big energy savers.
  • Energy audits: Many local utilities offer home energy audits at little or no cost to consumers. These audits can identify energy-wasting trouble spots and provide information on how to correct the problems. Utilities often include a package of energy saving devices with an audit.
  • Weatherization: Consumers can do a number of things to reduce inflows of cold air and leakage of warm air, particularly around windows and doors. Some basic weatherization steps include:
  • Use caulk or weatherstripping to seal cracks around windows, doors, pipes, electric outlets on exterior walls, and other points where cold air can enter the home. This alone can reduce heating costs by 10 percent or more.
  • Install energy-efficient doors and windows.
  • Add insulation in attics, crawl spaces and walls.
  • Cover windows, especially those with single-pane glass, with storm windows or plastic sheeting.
  • Clean or replace furnace filters monthly to improve airflow and efficiency.

Advice on conserving energy, including links to a wide range of information, also is available from the Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence Weatherization assistance for low-income families is available in Kentucky.

Local social service agencies offer assistance through a state program administered by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

For information on weatherization assistance, go to: http://www.communityactionky.org/weatherization.html

Low-income consumers may qualify for assistance with their heating bills through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

It is administered at the local level by community action agencies.

Consumers who do not qualify for LIHEAP may be eligible for assistance through programs sponsored by their utility company or programs operated by local social service organizations.

Consumers should contact their utility for more information. Information about LIHEAP is available on the Web.

For general information about cutting heating costs, utility issues or for assistance with resolving consumer disputes with utilities, contact the PSC by calling 800-772-4636 or go to the PSC website.

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