News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 15, 2014

Heating service moratorium ends March 17


Special to the Tribune-Star

INDIANAPOLIS — As the end of the winter heating season approaches, Vectren Energy Delivery (Vectren) reminds customers that the regulatory moratorium, which prevents utilities from disconnecting customers who meet low-income guidelines and have received federal and state utility heating assistance, will expire on Monday.

Customers who have received a disconnect notice or need bill payment assistance can call 800-227-1376 to make payment arrangements and avoid potential disconnection. Vectren does not disconnect service in extreme cold weather.

Because extreme winter weather has led to higher bills, Vectren has allocated $300,000 in crisis assistance dollars since mid-February and recently pledged another $450,000 to help residents challenged to pay.

The company has continued several programs and created a new payment plan to help Hoosiers manage costs because assistance funds will soon run out. Second chance options are available for those who have previously broken payment arrangements and longer-term payment arrangements that allow payments to be made in smaller increments over several months.

Vectren offers free billing and payment options:

• Payment arrangement: Customers who are having difficulty paying bills in full can request a payment arrangement for smaller increments over a set period of time. Eligible customers can call 800-227-1376 to make a request.

• Energy Assistance Program (EAP): State and federal utility assistance dollars are still available for income-eligible customers. People below 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines should visit www.incap.org or call 800-382-9895 to locate the local community action agency.

• Universal service program: Natural gas customers who qualify for EAP will be automatically enrolled. The USP provides a discount on natural gas bills of eligible low-income customers from December through May.

Customers are also encouraged to apply for all residential (home or rental) weatherization programs, including programs available through community action agencies and Energizing Indiana, which can be accessed at www.energizingindiana.com or by calling 888-446-7750.

Customers are encouraged to follow energy conservation tips, as colder weather continues to linger:

n Set the thermostat on 68 degrees or lower. Plus, for every 1 degree lower the thermostat for a sustained, eight-hour period, customers could see up to 3 percent in additional savings.

• Open curtains during the day to let in the sun, saving up to 2 percent in heating costs.

• Consider installing a new furnace if a unit is more than 15 years old. The furnace is the number one appliance in consuming natural gas, and today’s models are up to 97 percent efficient.

• Make sure heating/air vents are open and not blocked by curtains or furniture.

• Close a fireplace damper when not in use, to prevent the warm air from escaping.

• Have a furnace maintained annually by a qualified technician and check your air filter regularly.

• Reverse the direction of a ceiling fan. By changing the direction to clockwise in the winter, the fan will circulate the warm air.

• Caulk and weatherstrip around your doors and windows to reduce air leakage and save up to 10 percent on heating costs.

• Consider upgrading  attic and/or wall insulation to save up to 25 percent on heating and cooling costs.

 Many more tips, including rebates on high-efficiency appliances, can be found at www.vectren.com/savenergy or by calling Vectren’s Conservation Connection contact center at 866-240-8476.