Temperatures go down, bills don’t need to go up

GREENFIELD — It’s cold.

Actually, February was colder than the same time last year, and 26 percent colder than average.

Just this past week, temperatures dipped to single digits, and wind chills were below zero.

Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana recently announced customers will likely see higher natural energy bills because of the deep freeze most of the Midwest experienced.

Temperatures could fall to single digits again before spring arrives.

Here’s what you can expect from your bill and how to keep it manageable.

1. You used more natural gas

February temperatures were similar and, at times, colder than the same month last year. Three subzero-temperature days in February led customers to use gas volumes that were among Vectren’s top 10 all-time peak-heating days.

2. Average customer bills in February 2014 were nearly $150

In February of last year, the average customer paid about $140 for natural gas service. This year, the average customer will likely pay the same or more.

Bills vary depending on the size and age of a home, number of occupants, number of gas appliances, thermostat settings and levels of insulation.

3. Vectren can help customers.

Customers who find themselves unable to pay a bill should reach out to the utility service before they get behind. There are a number of services available to help keep families warm.

Customers who are having difficulty paying in full can request a free payment arrangement, which would allow them to pay small increments over a period of time.

Call 1-800-227-1376 for more information.

4. Nearly half of your energy bill goes toward heating your home.

Maintaining your furnace and keeping your thermostat dialed back are the easiest ways to keep your energy bill low.

An optimal setting for improved energy efficiency is at or below 68 degrees. For every degree you dial it back, you could save 1 to 3 percent on your bill.

5. Managing your household appliances can help lower the bill.

Run the dishwasher only when it’s full, open your fridge as infrequently as possible and run full loads in your washer and dryer.

Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.