Winter’s warming season has arrived, but it’s not too late to prepare
Indiana All consumers should be aware of the tools they can use to reduce winter heating bills, with utilities across Indiana and the United States projecting higher energy costs over the next few months.
If you need financial aid, there are resources available.
- The federally funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists eligible consumers each winter.
- State statute protects participating customers and those applying for LIHEAP from disconnection from December 1 through March 15.
- Consumers can find out more information and apply at the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) website www.in.gov/ihcda/homeowners-and-renters/low-income-home-energy-assistance-program-liheap,
- The IHCDA’s site also has contact information for the LIHEAP intake offices in each Indiana county. It also contains information about income eligibility.
- Consumers without Internet access can call IHCDA toll-free at 1-800-872-0371 for more information about LIHEAP. Consumers who qualify for LIHEAP also qualify for the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP).
- Local township trustees provide assistance throughout the state.
- Many utilities offer their own help programs. Help may also be available through local charities.
- Consumers seeking financial assistance should call the state’s helpline 2-1-1, which is available 24 hours a day. Indiana 211 can connect you to local level resources.
Billing options and payment plans
All utility consumers, including those protected by the moratorium and/or receiving financial assistance, are strongly encouraged to continue paying heating bills every month, even if they can only make a partial payment.
“If you are behind on your bills or are concerned about your ability to pay, it is important to contact your utilities immediately to arrange payment,” said Bill Fine, Indiana utility consumer counselor. “If you or someone you know needs help or a payment arrangement, now is the time to ask for help, not wait.”
In addition to payment arrangements, many utilities offer budget billing, which provides for consistent monthly payments. The utility sets a monthly amount based on the customer’s expected usage over a specific period of time – typically one year. True-up is applied in the 12th month, with the credit or balance usually applied for the next year. A major benefit of budget billing is that it can provide month-to-month stability throughout the winter, and helps consumers avoid the sticker shock they might otherwise experience.
Taking steps to improve a home’s energy efficiency can also help save consumers money.
Now is a good time to schedule a home heating system tune-up and check out other savings steps, such as replacing your HVAC filter regularly, replacing old weather stripping, and replacing the ceiling fan during the winter months. To rotate clockwise. OUCC offers more energy efficiency tips www.in.gov/oucc/natural-gas/tips-and-publications/reduce-your-winter-energy-bills/,
Additional resources include online home energy audits and specific programs offered by utilities. Leam more www.in.gov/oucc/featured-topics/winter-bills-faq,
Eight Indiana electric and natural gas utilities — including five of the state’s six largest energy utilities — have agreed to share monthly disconnections and outstanding data with the OUCC for September 2022 to March 2024. More information available here www.in.gov/oucc/featured-topics/arreage-and-disconnection-data-investigationIncluding data for September 2022.
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