INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Colder temperatures mean you'll likely be cranking up the heat and paying a higher energy bill, but there are steps you can take to help prevent any sticker shock.
"Heating and cooling take up about 42 percent of your monthly energy bill," Duke Energy spokesman Lew Middleton said. "What you need to do is take a whole house approach."
Duke Energy says that can include keeping the thermostat at the lowest comfortable setting, insulating where needed, maintaining your heating system, letting the sun in on south facing windows and reversing fans.
"What we don't want people to do is run around in the home or apartment with a t-shirt and shorts on and expect the furnace to keep them warm totally. If you expect that then you can also expect a very large energy bill at the end of the month," Middleton said.
How much a bill may increase will vary home to home.
"It's really going to be driven by the weather more than anything," said Anthony Swinger, a spokesman for the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor. "The good news is that wholesale natural gas prices have been very low for the last few years and so that's a big help."
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports nearly a third of U.S. households reported facing a challenge in paying energy bills or keeping adequate heating and cooling in their homes in 2015. In its survey, one in five households reported reducing or foregoing things like food and medicine to pay an energy bill.
"The low income home energy assistance program offers assistance in all 92 counties. If someone calls 211 that is a great way to find out about financial resources that might be available," Swinger said.
It's also recommended if you're having financial trouble to call your utility company as soon as possible.
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