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Don't let winter heating bills get you down

As colder weather settles into the Wabash Valley, many will be cranking up the heat, and ultimately, the electricity bill! Officials with Duke Energy say there are many ways to cut down on your power bill.

Posted: Dec. 5, 2017 11:39 AM
Updated: Dec. 5, 2017 6:49 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - The U.S. Department of Energy says heating and cooling account for about 48% of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes.

As colder weather settles into the Wabash Valley, many will be cranking up the heat, and ultimately, the electricity bill! Officials with Duke Energy say there are many ways to cut down on your power bill.

They say even when they aren't switched to the "on" position, TVs, laptops, cellphones, chargers and even coffee makers are slowly draining electricity and money from your wallet. Officials say the appliances that are using power can account for up to 20 percent of annual costs. The U.S. Department of Energy says consumers can save as much as 10 percent by identifying and unplugging energy vampires.

Officials say you can find these sneaky energy users by turning your lights off, and seeing what electronics have "standby lights." Electronics like TVs, cable boxes, DVRs and MP3 players typically have them, and they are a telltale sign that your power is slowly draining even though the product isn't in use. 

The average U.S. household spends $100 a year on plugged-in electronics not in use. So, officials say to unplug devices when you’re not using them, including adapters for battery-powered gizmos that are not connected, or are fully charged. Also, set your computers and other equipment to an energy-efficient mode.

Experts add that power strips can be an easy way to manage your devices. This makes it easier to turn off all your devices with a single switch. You can even buy “smart” power strips that automatically turn off power to devices that aren’t in use.

Duke Energy says it also offers free in-home energy assessments through its Home Energy House Call program. A trained energy specialist will inspect your home to checks for air leaks and examines insulation levels as well as appliances and the heating/cooling system. Duke Energy customers can sign up at duke-energy.com.

You can use the Energy Slayer Calculator to see how unplugging electronic devices can save you money in the long run.

Besides focusing on energy draining sources, there's more advice from Duke Energy about efficiently heating your home during the winter months. For that information, click here!

Duke Energy also offerst the Helping Hand Program. The company says each fall, the program will provide financial assistance to Duke Energy customers who meet certain criteria through a one-time $300 payment on an eligible customer's account.

To be eligible for assistance from the program, customers need to meet the following criteria:

-Duke Energy residential customer of record
-Total annual household income meets Energy Assistance Program guidelines
-Energy Assistance Program applicant

If you are struggling financially, Rick Burger with Duke Energy says to contact the company by calling 1-800-521-2232. He says the company is willing to work with you, and would like to prevent having to shut your power off, as well as paying a fee to reconnect.

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