Bitter cold winter means painfully high heat bills

(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Many Hoosiers haven’t received the bills for meter readings since the cold snap. But, those who have know it isn’t pretty.

Whether your heat runs off electricity or natural gas, it really doesn’t matter.

IPL, Citizens Energy and the Federal Department of Energy have saving tips that everyone can use. Especially when Hoosiers are feeling the pinch.

Eric Jones was hanging out at The Foundry coffee shop Monday. His furnace blew Sunday night.

“Yea, it’s out right now. I’m trying to email right now to get parts overnighted from Ohio so we can have heat tomorrow. It’s gone to 53 in the house right now,” he said.

Adding insult to injury, Jones got notice he’s got to fork over a lot more cash for his latest heating bill.

“We’re on the budget plan, but we went from about $178 a month and they sent us a notice today that it’s up to $253 a month,” said Jones.

On a budget plan, Jones says his family didn’t expect the dramatic increase.

“Is it fun? No. Can I afford the $80? Well, I guess,” he said.

But, thousands of Hoosiers can’t.

“So, we are really working with the population that is in dire need,” said Edgar Tipton, Community Action of Greater Indianapolis president.

The numbers at Community Action downtown prove the toll these temperatures are taking.

“And it’s really kind of setting some records for us to be able to take care of clients,” he said.

Community Action helps Hoosiers in a four-county area at 150 percent poverty or below. Since Nov. 1st, the agency has helped more than 27,000 people and has spent more than $4 million. Tipton calls it a significant increase over last year.

“I would tend to think as much as maybe ten, 15, 20 percent,” Tipton said.

Citizens Energy and IPL say if you don’t qualify for this assistance, give them a call. Because Hoosiers know the cold is sticking around for a while longer.

“And it’s just going to keep going. the outlook for the next two weeks is still cold, so,” Jones said.

The energy companies will work with you on budget billing or payment plans. That way you keep your heat on and your family safe.

Call IPL to set up budget billing or to request a payment extension. They can also give you more information on United Way’s Winter Assistance Program that can help subsidize bills.

The Department of Energy says on its website, “by turning your thermostat back 10° to 15° for 8 hours, you can save 5 percent to 15 percent a year on your heating bill – a savings of as much as 1 percent for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long.”

You can find many more tips on the Federal Department of Energy’s website here.

IPL, Citizens and the Federal Department of energy all have great energy saving tips.
Click here and hit hope tips. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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