Information for consumers coping with home heating costs

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By Special to The Sun


Kentucky consumers can take a number of steps to reduce their natural gas usage or to soften the impact of gas 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 thermostats on furnaces (most people are comfortable at 68 degrees) and 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.
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 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 before the onset of cold weather.
- 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 on the Web at: http://energy.ky.gov/efficiency/.
Weatherization assistance for low-income families is available in Kentucky. Many utilities offer weatherization assistance in conjunction with local social service agencies. Local social service agencies also 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/WhatWeDo/EnergyAssistance/Weatherizatio...
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 at: http://chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dfs/LIHEAP.htm.