With wind chills expected to drop temperatures in Missouri into the single digits at least twice this week, Missourians For A Balanced Energy Future (MBEF) urges consumers to stay warm and still be smart about energy bills.
MBEF is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization comprised of small and large businesses, chambers of commerce, labor organizations, farmers, associations, trade groups and Missouri citizens dedicated to securing Missouri’s affordable, reliable energy sources for tomorrow through decisions made today. The organization believes that by utilizing energy saving tips and budget billing options, consumers can balance their energy needs and still balance home budgets.
“This has been a cold winter and this week doesn’t look to be much of a change with below-average temperatures. Consumers who need to stretch their budgets should consider contacting their energy company to find out what assistance and budget billing options exist,” MBEF Executive Director Irl Scissors said. “Keeping the heat on is an essential function in a household, but so are a lot of other needs in a family’s budget. Utility companies are working hard to help families find that balance.”
Budget Billing Options
Utility companies and co-ops around the state offer information on their websites as well as toll-free numbers frequently listed on consumer bills for government assistance for those who qualify. They also offer budget billing options that allow steep bills to be spread out over the year into more manageable payments.
Additionally, some utility companies, like Ameren’s “Dollar More” program that partners with United Way and other human service agencies, offer consumers who have more flexibility in their family budget to give small contributions that go directly to families in need of assistance.
Energy Saving Tips
Getting through the final months and weeks of a particularly cold winter without breaking the family budget can mean safely reducing energy consumption within the home. Missouri’s Department of Energy’s Be Energy Efficient Program (BEE) offers suggestions on reducing home heating costs:
•Install plastic on windows or caulk and place weather-stripping on windows and doors that leak air.
•When not in use, make sure the fireplace damper is tightly closed.
•Consider setting the thermostat as low as comfortable in the winter.
•Turn the thermostat down when not at home.
•Check air ducts to be sure they are still connected.
•Make sure vents are not blocked by furniture or drapes. Clean warm air-registers, baseboard heaters and radiators as needed.
•Close off rooms that are not in use to save on heating bills.
•Use ceiling fans to assist in heating. Blades should rotate clockwise when viewed from below.
•Install switch and outlet gaskets/foam inserts on outer walls.
•Insulate heating ducts that travel through unheated areas of your home such as crawl spaces, attic and garage.
•Seal up areas around plumbing penetrations on outer walls and basement.
•Use a programmable thermostat with your furnace to adjust the setting while you sleep or no one is home.
•Replace the furnace filter monthly when dirty.
Note: Seniors and people with special medical needs should check with their doctors before changing their normal home temperatures. Also, do not alter temperatures within the home to the point that pipes risk freezing or bursting.
BEE’s Web address is www.ded.mo.gov/bee.
The federal government also offers extensive energy saving tips at www.energy.gov/energysaver.