We’ve had some beautiful October days here in Wayne Township, but we all know that cold, winter weather will be coming soon. And, with that comes an increase in utility bills due to the cost of heating our homes. One of our most important functions here at the trustee’s office is to help eligible persons with their utility bills. In the winter, keeping utilities turned on can be a matter of life or death.
We also try to help our clients learn ways to lower their utility bills as much as possible. One of our regular speakers at our weekly training class discusses with clients methods to lower their utility bills. Helping clients learn ways to conserve energy, and encouraging them to do so, is necessary because we have limits on the amount we can pay on utility bills.
Help is also available through the federal Energy Assistance Program. That program is administered here in Wayne Township (and beyond) by Brightpoint, formerly known as CANI. Information is on the Brightpoint website, www.mybrightpoint.org, or you can contact them at 423-3546. The Energy Assistance Program runs from November 1, 2016 to May 15, 2017. Applications for the 2016-2017 program year are now available and will be accepted through May 15.
It is not just township assistance clients that need to pay attention to lowering utility bills. None of us wants to pay more than necessary for electric, gas and water service. Many simple things can be done to lower our energy costs. Regarding heating our homes, we should change our furnace filters regularly, about every two months. We should check heat registers to make sure they are open and not blocked by furniture or carpeting.
I keep my thermostat no higher than 68, which is the recommended setting unless you or someone in your home has a medical problem that requires a warmer environment. It is easier to wear warm clothing in your home or get under a warm blanket while watching television or reading than spending extra money on heating. I also set the thermostat back when I am at work or at night when I am sleeping. If you have the money, you can purchase a programmable thermostat that will automatically do this for you.
Water heaters use considerable energy, but there are some things you can do to help lower their energy usage. We can turn the temperature down on the water heater to between 120 and 125 degrees. Lowering the temperature on the water heater has the added advantage of reducing the risk that children will scald themselves with water that is too hot. If you have the resources, you can install a water heater blanket available for a reasonable cost at most home improvement stores. You can test whether a water heater blanket will save you money by putting your hand on the water heater. If it is warm to the touch, installing a blanket will be helpful. Just make sure to follow the directions when installing the water heater blanket.
Another way to save on energy costs is to use compact fluorescent light bulbs. Yes, these light bulbs cost more initially, but they have ten times longer bulb life and use one-third to one-fourth the energy of a standard incandescent bulb. Some persons are reluctant to use the compact fluorescent bulbs because they cannot be thrown out in your regular trash. This should not be a concern in Waynedale because Umber’s Do It Best Hardware on Lower Huntington Road accepts these bulbs for proper disposal from residents anytime the store is open.
And, yes, it’s true what Mom and Dad said, that turning off lights and other appliances not in use saves energy dollars. Additional tips about energy savings can be found on the websites of Indiana Michigan Power and NIPSCO.
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