RICHARD A. STEVENSONEven though we enjoyed some really beautiful days early in October, we all know that cold, winter weather will be coming soon. And, with the cold weather comes an increase in utility bills due to the cost of heating our homes. One of the most important tasks we perform here at the Wayne Township Trustee’s Office is to help eligible persons with their utility bills. In the winter, keeping utilities turned on can be a matter of life or death.

We also try to help our clients learn ways to keep their utility bills as low as possible. One of our regular speakers at our weekly training class discusses with clients methods to lower their utility bills. Occasionally, she gives clients energy savings packages, which include such items as compact fluorescent light bulbs and low flow faucet and shower attachments. Helping clients learn ways to lower their utility bills, and encouraging them to do so, is necessary because we have limits on the amount we can pay on utility bills.

In our Township, the federal Energy Assistance Program is administered by CANI and begins on November 1. There are many requirements to get help from this program. Information is on the CANI website, www.canihelp.org, or you can contact CANI at 423-3546. The Energy Assistance Program has very limited funding this year, another reason clients must conserve energy.

And, it is not just our clients that need to pay attention to lowering utility bills. None of us wants to pay more than necessary for electric, gas and water service. Many simple things can be done by all of us to lower our energy costs. Regarding heating our homes, we should change our furnace filters regularly, about every two months. We should check heat registers to make sure they are open and not blocked by furniture or carpeting.

I keep my thermostat no higher than 68, which is the recommended setting unless you or someone in your home has a medical problem that requires a warmer environment. It is easier to wear warm clothing in your home or get under a warm blanket while watching television or reading than spending extra money on heating. I also set the thermostat back when I am at work or at night when I am sleeping. If you have the money, you can purchase a programmable thermostat that will automatically do this for you.

Water heaters use considerable energy, but there are some things you can do to help lower their energy usage. We can turn the temperature down on the water heater to between 120 and 125 degrees. Lowering the temperature on the water heater has the added advantage of reducing the risk that children will scald themselves with water that is too hot. If you have the resources, you can install a water heater blanket available for a reasonable cost at most home improvement stores. You can test whether a water heater blanket will save you money by putting your hand on the water heater. If it is warm to the touch, installing a blanket will be helpful. Just make sure to follow the directions when installing the water heater blanket.

Another way to save on energy costs is to use compact fluorescent light bulbs. Yes, these light bulbs cost more initially, but they have ten times longer bulb life and use one-third to one-fourth the energy of a standard incandescent bulb. Some persons are reluctant to use the compact fluorescent bulbs because they cannot be thrown out in your regular trash. This should not be a concern in Waynedale because Umber’s Do It Best Hardware on Lower Huntington Road accepts these bulbs for proper disposal from residents anytime the store is open. And, Mom and Dad were correct when they reminded us to turn off lights we are not using. Additional tips about energy savings can be found on the websites of Indiana Michigan Power and NIPSCO.

Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee