"With the increasingly volatile energy prices, I encourage you and your family to be prepared for higher utility costs this winter. My office wants to help you control those costs with recommendations such as winterizing your home or by conservation, especially during these difficult financial times."
Attorney General Jack Conway
The Attorney General's Office of Rate Intervention (ORI) serves as a watchdog for consumers in matters related to natural gas, water, sewer, electric and telephone service. Under Kentucky law, the Office is also responsible for representing the interests of Kentucky consumers before governmental rate-making agencies. Due to the price swings in our energy prices, this winter could be an expensive one. The following are ways to help cut costs:
Do your best to conserve:
- Turn down your thermostat as much as you can and still remain comfortable (electronic thermostats that adjust the temperature in your home when it is not in use are available)
- Turn off lights and appliances when not in use. Consider shutting doors and vents to rooms when they are not in use.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent or LED bulbs. Understand and reduce as much phantom load as possible. Phantom load, also known as vampire power, is energy to which you are using but the use of which is not easily apparent. Electronic appliances which are switched off or on stand-by mode continue to use electricity. Consider unplugging the appliance or put it on a power strip or surge protector which can be turned off when not in use.
- Consider performing an energy audit on your home. An energy audit helps you conserve and become more energy efficient. It can be done on your own or with the help of professionals. Some local utility companies provide the audits which include free energy saving items and, depending on financial qualifications, a home weatherization. For general information on energy audits, please visit EnergyStar.gov (888-782-7937). Energy Star also has a web page here with lists of energy star certified products searchable by type with an overview, specifications, and buying guides for each product.
- Weatherize your home. There are many sources available to educate you on the ways in which you can do this yourself aside from a company performing an audit. Good sources of information can be obtained from the Department for Energy Development and Independence, 500 Mero Street, 12th Floor, Capital Plaza Tower, Frankfort, KY 40601, (502) 564-7192 or (800) 282-0868. You might also access energysavers.gov for other energy saving advice. Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet also has information on energy saving tips and information geared toward propane customers.
- For general information on energy saving tips, please download this booklet from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Financial assistance may be available through governmental agencies. Consumers experiencing hardship are encouraged to explore the possibility of getting financial help. For more information on available assistance, click on the following links:
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
275 E. Main St., 3E-I
Frankfort, KY 40621
Community Action Kentucky
CAK LIHEAP Program
101 Burch Court
Frankfort, KY 40601
Toll free: 800-456-3452
If you become aware you cannot pay your bill on time, get in touch with your utility early to work out a payment plan. In the event you are unable to reach an agreement with the company, the Public Service Commission may be able to help. However, it is important that you work on a payment plan before your utilities are cut off for nonpayment. In doing so, you avoid the disconnection fee as well as a reconnection fee which can add significant charges to your bill.
Public Service Commission
P.O. Box 615,
211 Sower Boulevard
Frankfort, Kentucky 40602-0615
Participate in your utility's budget payment plan. It spreads most of the cost of winter heating (and summer cooling) over the entire year, which can help your planning. In most budget plans there will be one “true up” month in which you will be expected to pay any added amounts not paid under the plan in the last eleven months. Find out in what month the “true up” occurs and plan for a bill that month that may be much larger than your other budgeted payments.
Stay on top of changing energy costs. The Department for Energy Development and Independence has frequent updates which you may check from time to time.
Renovating, Upgrading or Retrofitting
If you are renovating or upgrading your home, check with your utility company to find out if you qualify for rebates if purchasing energy efficient appliances and, if so, from what sources. Before you buy, find out whether you are eligible to receive rebate incentives by installing certain types of heating and air conditioning equipment. For example, Eastern Kentucky rural electric cooperative customers may wish to learn more about the How$martKY program offered through MACED. Also, your purchases of appliances and other energy efficient upgrades may qualify for State tax incentives. The Department for Energy Development and Independence may be able to answer your questions regarding Kentucky income tax credits.
Propane gas heating
The Office of Rate Intervention and the State Fire Marshal's Office (State Fire Marshal, 101 Sea Hero Road, Suite 100, Frankfort, KY 40601 502-573-0382) have established a protocol for allowing propane (LPG) customers to secure propane when their supplier is unable to do so. Under KRS 234.190, only the owners of a tank are allowed to fill it. In most cases the tanks actually belong to propane companies and are leased to consumers. Although a customer can give notice to a supplier to terminate service, and KRS 234.190 (3) requires that the providing company remove the tank within 48 hours, this is problematic in the winter when the suppliers are focused on delivering product. However, now that there is a release available, the Fire Marshal can request the current supplier to allow other suppliers to deliver propane.
See also the Energy and Environmental Cabinet’s Propane Heating News Release for 2014-2015 Season or contact your local propane gas marketer for more information.
The Attorney General will continue to challenge utility companies to keep your rates low.
* The Attorney General is not responsible for updating or ensuring the accuracy of external links.