Heating and cooling your home is getting very expensive. Sure, lowering your thermostat in the winter and raising it in the summer will help. But there are other ways to make a dent in your energy bill…
- Apply for Low Income Energy Assistance Program. LIHEAP is for low-income families, people with disabilities and the elderly. But even if you don’t meet those criteria but you just lost your job, you might qualify for temporary assistance. Contact your local utility company for specific information.
- Sign up for budget billing. Don’t like surprises during the coldest winter days and the sizzling summer heat? If you enroll in budget billing, your gas or electric company will total the amount of your bills during the past 365 days; then divide it by 12. That’s the amount you’ll pay each month. At the end of the year, if you’ve used more energy, you’ll be charged the difference. But if you’ve consumed less, you’ll receive a credit. This is a good incentive to conserve power.
- If you are behind in your payments, call the utility company immediately. Don’t assume the electric company will automatically turn off your power after a certain number of missed or late payments. If you get behind, most companies will work out a payment plan with you as long as you call them right away. If you are at least 60 years old or disabled, you can sign up for a third party notification system. That way if you get behind on your payments, the company will contact the agency or person that you designate.
- Ask to pay your security deposit in installments. If you’ve been late on payments during the past year, or if you’ve had your power shut off because of failure to pay, you might be required to put down a security deposit. The amount varies with every utility. A lot of times, companies will let you pay the deposit in installments if you ask.
- Call your service provider if you depend on electricity to power your medical equipment. You not only might qualify for special services, but the company will definitely notify you in case of a pre-planned service interruption.
- Sign up for automated payments. You’ll save money by not mailing in checks and you won’t have to remember to pay your bill. The payments are usually set to deposit a few days before the due date. So you’ll have access to available funds longer.
Remember, you need to communicate with your utility company. They can’t help you if you don’t call.