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Home heat sticker-shock

Levelized billing and improved energy efficiency can help you avoid really big bills when the temperature outside is really hot or really cold.

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -

Have you recovered from the shock of your last utility bill?

Whether you heat your home with electricity or natural gas, another big bill is likely on the way.

Last week we got an email from a Hot Springs resident who told us his Entergy bill has doubled. He is certain that something is wrong with his meter. We contacted Entergy and his meter will be checked this week.

But Ventrell Thompson with Entergy says the homeowner probably won't like the findings.

"Most of the time it is not the meter,” says Thompson. “Most of the time it is just customers that have...something is going on in their home that is pulling more electricity and they are not aware of it."

Even with your thermostat set at the recommended 68 degrees, when it's really cold outside it just takes more energy...and costs more money...to heat your home.

But there are a couple of things you can do to help avoid the sticker-shock of a big, budget-busting bill.

First, consider levelized billing. You're not saving money. You're just avoiding the big bills in the cold or hot months by averaging things out over all 12 months.

But levelized billing makes it harder to notice usage so it can decrease your incentive to conserve. And if your annual usage goes up you will owe some money at year's end.

The best way to lower your energy bill is to improve your home's energy efficiency.

"We ask customers to service their units,” says Thompson. “And if their units haven't been serviced they could be operating not as efficiently as they could. Also, if there are doors or windows that are not up to code or not as efficient as they could be they could be losing heat that way as well."

If you are an Entergy customer you may be eligible for a free home energy audit.

The Home Energy Solutions Program is free. Ways to save money will be recommended to you and some of those ideas will be added to your home the day of your audit by the Entergy subcontractor you select. You will likely be placed on a waiting list and may have to wait several weeks or months before an audit team can visit your home. An audit may take up to four hours and an adult must be at home.

A recent energy audit performed in Little Rock started with a vacuum test of the home to help determine an efficiency level. The test resulted in draft guards being added to the bottom or frame of two exterior doors, air ducts/vents being cleaned and sealed and the air return space being improved. 10 energy-efficient light bulbs were used to replace existing bulbs and attic insulation was checked (no additional insulation was needed in this case).

All this was done at no cost to the homeowner. The subcontractor (you can select from nine in this area of Little Rock) is paid by Entergy, and the incentive for Entergy is to lower overall grid usage to help prevent brownouts, blackouts or the need to build more power stations.

If you are a current Entergy customer and have lived in a home or apartment for at least one year (owner or renter) that has ducted central heat and air conditioning…and that home or apartment is at least 10 years old…you are likely eligible.

You can contact the Energy Efficiency Solutions Center at 877-212-2420 or by emailing HomeEnergySolutionsEAI@CLEAResult.com.

Air date: January 31st, 2018

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