As much as we sometimes hate to think about it, the reality is that winter is quickly moving in.
Although long term forecasts are calling for a mild winter in this region, temperatures still get cold enough to raise those heat bills. If you dread turning up the thermostat because of the cost, there are some things you can do to possibly slow down how fast those bills add up.
Many utility companies (including Northwestern Energy) will come to your home and do what is called a Home Energy Audit.
Northwestern Energy’s website describes what can happen with an audit:
On-site Energy Audits may include free installation of the following items.
- Water heater wraps
- Low-flow shower head
- Low-flow faucet aerators
- Pipe wrap insulation on the first ten feet of hot water pipe leaving the water heater
Energy auditors perform a gas appliance inspection for customers whose gas is delivered by NorthWestern Energy. The auditors will perform blower door analysis of most homes to demonstrate areas of air leakage and to offer customers education on how lifestyle and habits affect energy use.
Customers receive a report specific to their home and energy use habits. The report…
- Breaks out historical energy usage by end-use
- Provides recommendations on cost-effective weatherization measures
- Offers tips on energy-efficient practices and gas appliance maintenance
For those who are on a fixed budget and the higher bills might deter them from staying comfy, there are some great programs to help out:
- Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP)
The Low Income Energy Assistance Program or LIEAP is a federally funded program available to persons who may not otherwise be able to afford to heat their homes or apartments during the winter. To find out more about the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, click here.
- NorthWestern Energy Discount
If you qualify for LIEAP, you automatically receive the following NorthWestern Energy discounts. The year-round discount begins when you sign up and qualify for LIEAP.
- Electric Service — Income-qualified customers will receive a 25% discount on their NorthWestern Energy electric bill from November through April; after May, the discount will be 15%.
- Gas Service — Income-qualified customers will receive a 30% discount on their NorthWestern Energy gas bill from November through April.
- Free Weatherization Program
You may also be eligible to have your home weatherized at no cost to you whether you own your home or rent from a landlord. This service is provided by NorthWestern Energy in partnership with the State of Montana’s weatherization program. To find out more about the weatherization program and how to apply, click here.
- Energy Share
If you are facing an energy emergency, you may qualify for one-time assistance — most often in the form of help with a heating bill, but occasionally covering heating equipment repairs or other special energy needs — from Energy Share of Montana. Energy Share is funded partially through Universal System Benefit (USB) funds, which can be used for those energy consumer households and families with incomes at or below industry-recognized levels that qualify those consumers for low-income energy-related assistance. In addition, Energy Share has other funds available for people no matter what their income, as long as a person is facing a true energy emergency. Every Energy Share application is considered on an individual basis. To find out more about Energy Share and how to apply, click here.
(Above info from the Northwestern Energy website)
Don’t let the thought of high utility bills scare you this winter. We all like to stay warm and there is help if you just ask. Plus it helps keep you in good health.