CALL 6: What you can do to lower your heating bill

CALL 6: What you can do to lower your heating bill
Posted at 6:34 PM, Jan 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-24 14:07:06-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Hundreds of homeowners and renters in Indiana are losing their cool over high heating bills arriving in the mail this month.

The utilities blame colder December weather for the higher bills.

Many customers complained they saw major increases despite keeping their thermostats at 68 degrees or even lower.

RELATED| Call 6: Customers complain of high heating bills

However, IPL spokesperson Claire Dalton explained keeping your thermostat low isn’t always enough to keep your bills low, especially when the temperatures drop below freezing as they did in December.

“Weather can be a huge factor in energy consumption, and therefore, their bills,” said IPL spokesperson Claire Dalton. “Your house is working really hard to heat your home to 68 degrees because it’s so cold outside.

While you can’t control the weather, Call 6 Investigates is working for you to find things you can control that can help cut your energy bills.

Liz and James McKinley, a Camby couple with two children, saw an uptick in their energy usage in December.

The McKinleys are looking for ways to cut their energy bills, and therefore, signed up for a free home energy assessment with Indianapolis Power and Light.

“I like to save money, I cut coupons, and I do everything I can to save money,” said Liz McKinley.

IPL contracts with Good Cents who performs more than 6,000 home energy assessments a year.

Field supervisor Mike Bass went through the McKinley’s home and pointed out where they could be wasting energy, such as inadequate attic insulation, older light bulbs, appliances left plugged-in, inefficient shower heads, and washing clothes in hot water.

The assessment includes not just recommendations, but Good Cents also installs free LED light bulbs, efficient shower heads and power strips for free.

“It’s definitely a win-win,” said McKinley.  “Anything we can do to save money and you don’t have to pay for it on top of it.”

Bass also suggested a programmable thermostat and good windows, which the McKinleys already had.

He said turning down the thermostat 5 degrees while you’re at work can make a big difference.

“Setting that back 4-5 degrees could save you 10 % on your billing,” said Bass. “Each degree you set back may be a 2-3% savings.”

You should also turn down your water heater to 120 degrees, Bass said.

Other energy cost-cutting tips:

  • Maintain your furnace’s air filter regularly
  • Make sure vents are not blocked
  • Caulk or weather strip around windows and doors
  • Open shades and blinds during the day to help heat the house

IPL’s home assessments are free, in fact, you already pay for them as part of your bill.

Currently, there is no waiting list and IPL should be able to get you in in the next few weeks.

You can call IPL at 1.866.908.4915 or visit IPL's home energy assessment online. 

IPL customers can receive an audit once every 3 years.

If you’re a Duke Energy customer interested in a home energy assessment, click HERE.

IPL also offers several resources to help with winter electricity bills:

  • Budget billing: Allows customers to pay the same amount for 11 months and then settle the difference on the 12th month
  • Payment extensions: Can be requested online or by calling the automated system at 317-261-8222 and selecting option 2 from the main menu
  • Preferred bill date: Offered for IPL customers who want a due date that best matches their paydays
  • Financial assistance: Available by calling the Connect2Help line at 211
  • PowerToolstm programs are available to help customers manage their household's energy usage and bills