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With winter approaching and consumers across Indiana turning their furnaces on, it's a good time to consider how your home or business can be more energy efficient.

"Our website offers a host of useful tips that will help you prepare for winter," said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler. "These tips can add up to either save you money or at least keep your bills in check."

Advice from the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) includes:

1. Getting a home energy assessment. Many Hoosiers qualify for assessments at no cost from Energizing Indiana, a unified effort of the OUCC, other consumer organizations and participating utilities. To sign up, visit www.energizingindiana.com or call 1-888-446-7750 toll-free. In addition, many utility websites offer online energy audits at no charge.

2. Signing up for budget billing. Most Indiana natural gas and electric utilities offer budget billing programs, which offer set, monthly payments and make it easier to plan ahead for the coldest months.

3. Making sure your furnace filter is clean. It's also important, for efficiency and safety reasons, to have your HVAC unit serviced regularly by a professional.

4. Checking your insulation. Having the proper amount can make a major difference on winter heating bills, and tax incentives are available in many cases.

5. Setting ceiling fans to turn clockwise at a low speed. (They should turn counter-clockwise in summer.)

6. Using a programmable thermostat, and turning the temperature down by a few degrees when you go to work or to bed.

7. Switching to energy efficient light bulbs. Energizing Indiana offers discounts through a number of retailers.

8. Unplugging cell phone chargers and other small appliances when they're not being used. Anything that's plugged in is using energy to some degree.

9. Knowing and following the OUCC's additional recommendations. These recommendations are available at www.IN.gov/OUCC or by calling 1-888-441-2494 toll-free.

10. Knowing about and taking advantage of the energy efficiency programs your utility offers. While programs vary among utilities, they may include refrigerator/ freezer recycling/rebate programs, free kits with energy efficient light bulbs, rebates on energy efficient appliances, and more.

In addition to energy efficiency tips, the OUCC website includes free guides to understanding electric rates and natural gas costs, and other helpful consumer publications. All consumers are encouraged to take advantage of these helpful tools.


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