We all spend most of our time indoors during the colder months in Michiana. While we’re inside more, we’re also consuming more energy and using our utilities more often. But there are ways you can protect your home — and your wallet — this season. Here are a few tips to help you get ready to brave the upcoming northern Indiana weather and save on your energy consumption.
- Make sure you seal up your home. Your energy bill may be reduced by 10 percent or more by caulking, sealing, or weather-stripping all seams, cracks, and openings.
- Install a programmable thermostat if you can. Turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 percent for 8 hours (or however long you’re away from home for work or other reasons) may save you money on your utility bill — as much as 10 percent each year!
- Ensure your furnace filters are clean and changed regularly; clogged filters prevent proper airflow and cause your furnace to work harder.
- Adjust the thermostat on your water heater to between 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This range is optimal for the majority of household uses, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Be aware that some dishwashers require between 130 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, though.
- Fix or replace your leaky faucets. A leak that fills a coffee cup in 10 minutes wastes 3,280 gallons of water each year! If you’re leaking hot water, you’re also wasting fuel.
- If you’re cooking more (and who isn’t during the pandemic?!), pay attention to how you’re using your range. Adjust the flame so it fits the pan you are using; never allow the flame to lap around the sides.
- When using your washing machine, always wash full loads of laundry. Be aware that overloading your machine can also cause problems by reducing efficiency. Check your water level control with using smaller loads, too. Remember that you don’t always have to use hot water when doing a load of laundry.
- Pay attention to your outlets. It’s tempting to use more electronics when stuck indoors, but make sure not to overload your electrical circuits. Not only is overloading a safety hazard, but it may also reduce energy efficiency.
If you get into trouble paying your heating bills this winter, REAL Services may be able to help with its Energy Assistance Program (EAP)
The EAP assists about 10,500 families during a heating season — from November to May — with a one-time credit that averages $450, paid to the electric and heating utility.
EAP is able to assist families or households that are at or below 60 percent of the state median income ($54,325 in Indiana, according to census.gov).
Households don’t have to have a disconnect notice to receive assistance. However, if you’ve received a disconnect notice, make sure you note that when you fill out the mail-in application to ensure the utility company is notified immediately when you are approved for the EAP. Households that receive EAP are protected from disconnection from their utilities from Dec. 1 to March 15.
If you think you might qualify for the EAP, visit REAL Services’ EAP page to print an application. To set up an office visit, call (574) 232-6501. The EAP is administered by REAL Services in Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, Marshall, and St. Joseph counties in Indiana and begins on Nov. 1, 2020.