The issue: Home heating season, now through March 31.
Our view: Do what you can to make your home more energy-efficient and natural gas bills less volatile.
Longtime weather prognosticator The Old Farmer’s Almanac forecasts a cold and snowy winter for the Kokomo area, a marked departure from last year.
After the light snow shower we experienced Monday evening, it’s a difficult augury to rebut.
“For the coming season, we’re predicting that winter will return to some – but not all – areas,” wrote Caleb Weatherbee. “We think it will be a winter of contraries, as if Old Man Winter were cutting the country in half. The eastern half of the country will see plenty of cold and snow. The western half will experience relatively warm and dry conditions.”
Last month, Indiana utility companies forecast slightly lower natural gas bills this winter if usage remains the same as a year ago. But the U.S. Energy Information Agency, like The Old Farmer’s Almanac, foresees most U.S. households using more energy for heat this winter because temperatures will be lower compared to last winter, which was abnormally warm.
Families with incomes up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level are encouraged to apply for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP. All assistance is paid in a lump sum to the applicant’s utility.
If you and your family don’t meet the income requirements, there are ways to manage your home-heating costs this winter. Take advantage of “budget” programs many utilities offer.
Such plans allow customers to spread the gas costs over an entire year. Program participants pay an equal amount each month and know how much to budget for their bill.
Utilities also advise other cost-saving measures. Take advantage of this weekend’s warm-up and winterize your home.
• Schedule a furnace inspection. Filter cleaning and upgrades could be completed now before evenings turn colder.
• Take a look at your registers and ducts. They trap dust, lint and other debris that reduces the efficiency of your furnace.
• Inspect caulking and weather strips on your outdoor windows.
• Install storm windows if your home has them.
Do what you can now to make your home more energy-efficient and natural gas bills less volatile.