Barhite: Tips to keep your heating bill coolWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | email@example.com
The wintriest winter in recent history has left us short on snow days, short on salt and short on patience.
But one thing is expected to be plentiful: your heating bill. Thankfully, your bill shouldn’t be too much more with a few common sense approaches.
Chris Kozak, communications and community relations manager for Columbia Gas, said to expect a $6-$10 impact on your monthly bill.
Kozak said it takes more energy to heat your home in these polar vortex temperatures. Even if you leave your thermostat at 70 degrees every winter, you are using more gas to keep your house at that temperature this winter, he said.
About seventy-five percent of your bill is the cost of the natural gas. Columbus Gas doesn’t sell gas; it delivers it.
“Lowering the amount of gas is the key to lowering your bill. That is the silver bullet,” Kozak said.
Actually your bill might be cheaper compared to recent years because of gas gathered by fracking, he said. In 2006, it was $1.36 per cubic feet; this month, it is 57 cents per cubic feet.
Kozak said he doesn’t remember such a cold winter since 1994 and offers some recommendations to keep the heat in and your bill down.
- Seal gaps around doors and windows. For little investment, Kozak said weather stripping, door sweeps and caulk work well for blocking drafts.
- Cover your entire windows with a shrink wrap-like material. These window insulator kits are great for older windows that allow cold air to seep through. These kits can be purchased at a local hardware or big-box store.
- Keep your thermostat at 72 or lower. Kozak said this is a personal preference because you want to be comfortable in your house. “The higher you inch it up, the higher your bill will be,” he said. Some might prefer to go down to 70 degrees and put on a sweatshirt. He recommends getting a programmable thermostat that will allow you to set it for 70 in the morning, down to 68 when you leave for work and then back up to 70 shortly before you return home. Columbia Gas is offering a special on these thermostats. Go to ColumbiaGasOhio.com/e-store or call 866-542-4767.
- Close the damper when the fireplace isn’t being used. Kozak said using a fireplace will save you money, but remember to not leave the fire going while you sleep. He also warns again unsafe alternative energy sources like leaving the oven open or bringing the grill into the house. One time, a family cut a hole in the floor and built a fire.
- Finally, keep blinds and drapes on south-facing windows open during the day and closed at night. This solution is cost-free, but you will need to be diligent about letting the sun in and keeping the cold night air out.
Kozak said if customers are having a hard time paying they need to call and talk to a Columbia Gas representative. For instance, if your household is down to one income, share that information.
“Don’t just ignore it. We need to hear from you.”
Kozak said 55,000 homes in Northwest Ohio qualify for help. Columbia Gas is using “common sense and compassion” when it comes to shut-off notices in this weather, he said. Help can include heating assistance money.
“There is a lot of need in our community, but there is a lot of help out there. We don’t want to see people having fires in their front rooms,” Kozak said, but “they can’t be too proud to ask for help.”