Winter energy tips & utility assistance
By Brandy Hodge
The Farmers’ Almanac has predicted this will be a colder than normal winter and heating costs, both electricity and gas, are estimated to increase. Here are some tips to help you conserve energy:
- Keep heat contained inside the home.
- Turn the thermostat down.
- Inspect and replace your furnace filters regularly.
- Choose Energy Star appliances.
- Use LED lightbulbs.
One of the best ways to conserve energy is to ensure your home is not losing heat. Up to a third of a typical home’s heat loss occurs through windows and doors. Air can also move into or out of the home through cracks and gaps in the home such as electrical outlets, attics and baseboards.
Two ways to help reduce heat loss is caulking and weather-stripping windows.
Turning the thermostat down a few degrees at bedtime or when you leave the home can conserve energy. Regularly changing your furnace filter can improve air quality in your home, help your furnace perform more efficiently and lower energy costs. Lastly, when it is time to replace an appliance, selecting Energy Star appliances and switching to LED lightbulbs both make a difference in the amount of energy the household utilizes. LED lightbulbs are up to 80% more energy efficient, have a longer lifetime and generate less heat.
Many utility companies offer payment arrangements for large past due balances. Each utility company has different guidelines; therefore, you must call directly to learn what options may be available. For low-income households, there are four different types of utility assistance programs available.
Johnson County Aging and Human Services administers the Johnson County Utility Assistance Program. This program provides financial assistance to qualifying low-income households. Assistance may be provided for electric, water, gas, wastewater or propane utility bills.
Financial assistance can be provided for past due utility bills or assistance with payment plans.
Kansas Housing Resources Corporation administers the Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance program. KERA provides rental and utility assistance to qualifying Kansas renters. The goals of KERA are to avoid eviction or utility disconnections. Details can be found at kera-kshousingcorp.org/kera13#/. Kansas Department for Children and Families is administrating two different utility assistance programs.
Low Income Energy Assistance Program is a federally funded program that helps eligible households pay a portion of their home energy costs by providing a onetime per year benefit. Details can be found at dcf.ks.gov/services/ees/Pages/EnergyAssistance.aspx.
The Emergency Water Assistance Program is a federally funded program that helps eligible households restore or prevent disconnection of water or wastewater services. Details can be found at dcf.ks.gov/EWAP/Pages/default.aspx.
Brandy Hodge is communications, administration and outreach manager at the Department of Aging and Human Services.