Programs available to help offset skyrocketing home heating costs

Heating bills are expected to increase by 17% this season and reach the highest cost in more than a decade, according to a National Energy Assistance Directors Association report. The bills will present another challenge to locals who are already paying more for basic needs like food and gas.

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How people heat their homes will dictate how much their heating bills will increase over the course of the season, the report said.

- For families that use natural gas for heating, costs are expected to rise $243, up 34%, with bills hitting $952 on average.

- Households that use heating oil may see costs rise $239, up 13%, to $2,115 on average.

- Propane-heated households could pay $241 more, up 15%, to $1,828 on average.

- Homes that get their heat from the electrical grid could see a more modest cost increase: up $86, or 7%, to $1,328.

“We recognize the financial hardships our customers may be facing this heating season, and we want to encourage them to contact us for options to assist in managing costs prior to their first high bill of the heating season,” said Ashley Babcock, vice president of CenterPoint Energy’s Indiana and Ohio Gas. “Additionally, customers needing further financial assistance can apply for programs available through our local community action agencies and local non-profits.”


Winter heating costs

The following is a list of tools provided by CenterPoint Energy to help reduce costs or make them more affordable this winter.

  • Choice program: Through CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas Choice program, customers can choose a natural gas supplier that’s right for them. Competing suppliers offer more pricing options for consumers, such as locking in a fixed rate, which allows them to comparison shop for energy the way they do for other products and services. Customers who do not choose a third-party supplier are served by one of five default Standard Choice Offer suppliers at a variable rate. Visit http://www.centerpointenergy.com/choice for a list of suppliers and up-to-date prices.
  • Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP): State and federal utility assistance dollars are available for income-eligible customers. Households must fall at or below 175% of federal poverty guidelines to apply. Visit www.development.ohio.gov or call 800-282-0880 to learn more.
  • HEAP Winter Crisis Program: The HEAP Winter Crisis Program provides assistance once per heating season to eligible households that are disconnected or are threatened with disconnection. Households must fall at or below 175% of federal poverty guidelines to apply. Visit www.development.ohio.gov or call 800-282-0880 to learn more.
  • Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP Plus): PIPP Plus allows a qualified household to pay 5% of its monthly income for gas service throughout the year. To be eligible for the PIPP Plus program, a customer must receive his or her primary or secondary heat source from a company regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, must have a total household income which is at or below 175% of the federal poverty level and must apply for all energy assistance programs for which he or she is eligible.
  • Due Date Extension and Payment Arrangement: These are two free offerings which are available to customers in need of a special payment plan on a temporary basis in order to keep service connected and manage energy costs.
  • Energy efficiency resources: CenterPoint Energy offers energy efficiency tips, appliance rebates and energy-saving tools to help customers lower their natural gas bills. All Ohio residential and small commercial natural gas customers are eligible. Visit www.centerpointenergy.com/smartsavings or call 1-800-227-1376 for a list of rebates, qualifying appliances and energy efficiency tips.
  • Budget Bill: Under this billing plan, a customer’s estimated costs for a year of gas service are spread in equal monthly bill amounts for the year. This leveling of monthly bill amounts reduces the need to pay the full amount in the winter and spreads some of those higher bill charges into the non-heating months. Amounts are adjusted each summer for actual costs, and the customer’s credit or amount due rolls into the next Budget Bill payment for the next 12-month period. Customers can enroll for free on www.centerpointenergy.com or by calling 1-800-227-1376.
  • Home weatherization: CenterPoint Energy’s home weatherization program helps qualifying Ohio customers implement energy efficiency improvements to their homes at no cost. Households must fall within 300% of federal poverty guidelines to apply. Visit www.miamivalleycap.org to learn more.

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