MOLINE, Ill. — Editorial Note: The video attached to this story is how the City of Sterling is looking to involve the community in saving money on bills for residents.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of energy is up 17.6% from a year ago. That is putting additional pressure on already stressed American budgets. Going into the colder months you may be wondering if there is a way to save a little cash, there is.
MidAmerican Energy Company says, "We work year-round to keep gas costs as low as possible. Our efforts include advance purchase contracts to lock in gas prices when market prices are more favorable and storing gas in advance of the winter heating season, both of which help us keep customer bills as reasonable as we can."
Despite the rising cost of energy, MidAmerican says customers should not expect to see an increase in their energy bills, so long as there are typical weather conditions. However, this is the Midwest and weather is a factor, as well as how much gas you use. "So you as a customer do have the power to help control how much you use, regardless of the temperature and natural gas market prices. In other words, energy efficiency measures help you use less energy to keep your home comfortable." said a MidAmerican spokesperson.
Now back to the main question: How do I save money on my energy bill?
- Check your heating system–Have your heating system serviced to keep it running properly and efficiently. Change your furnace filters regularly.
- Check vents to make sure they’re not blocked.
- Seal drafts–Check windows, doors, fireplaces and electrical outlets for air leaks and use caulk or weather stripping to help seal leaks. Weatherizing your home will help reduce your natural gas usage and can make your home more comfortable.
- A programmable or smart thermostat will help you better control your heating costs.
- Turn down your thermostat to the lowest temperature that you feel is comfortable for you—the lower the temperature, the less energy you use. Set your thermostat seven to 10 degrees lower when you are away or asleep. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, "You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7° to 10°F for eight hours a day from its normal setting. "
- Open curtains facing the south on sunny days to take advantage of the sun’s radiant heat, and close them at night to help insulate against cold air coming from windows at night.
- Wear warmer clothes inside your home–the quickest way to warm up during the winter won’t add a dime to your heating bill.
- MidAmerican's HomeCheck Online is a free online energy efficiency tool that will enable you to assess your energy efficiency at home.
MidAmerican also says, "While this isn’t an energy efficiency tip, budget billing helps provide a predictable monthly energy bill that’s tailored to each customer at no additional cost."
What can you do if you're struggling to pay your utility bill? MidAmerican says look into programs that can help you cover the cost.
LIHEAP is a federally funded program administered by state agencies to provide utility assistance to residents in poverty. Community action agencies like Project Now can assist Quad Citizens gain access to funds from this program as long as they meet the criteria.
MidAmerican has a program called I CARE which allows customers to donate to a utility assistance fund. "MidAmerican matches those donations by 25%." The donated funds go to the donor’s local community action agency. You can contact MidAmerican directly for information on the I CARE program.
"If you are a customer who is behind on your energy bill, we urge you to contact your local community action agency about the assistance that may be available," said MidAmerican. "If you have received a disconnection notice, we urge you to contact [MidAmerican] as soon as possible so we can discuss possible options."
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