Freezing temperatures bring spike in electric, gas bills

Freezing temperatures bring spike in electric, gas bills

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As temperatures In Louisville continue to fall, utility bills across the city are climbing.

When Sandra Hynes looked at her most recent LG&E bill, she said she couldn’t help but wonder how it got that high.

“Who’s going to pay this?” Hynes questioned. “Last month, [it was] $89 and it jumped up to over $200, and I’m thinking, ‘Wait a minute now.’”

On Wednesday, Hynes took a copy of her bill and other paperwork to Louisville’s Nia Center on West Broadway, for LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. It’s a program Hynes has participated in for more than a decade, and one she said has helped her keep the lights on in the winter.

“[It’s helped me] buy more food, help take care of my granddaughter, be able to live, keep my heat on,” Hynes said.

LIHEAP is designed to help people who have a hard time paying their utility bills from January to March, the part of the year when bills tend to surge.

LIHEAP Supervisor Brandon O’Neal told WAVE 3 News the office is busier than ever, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent drop in temperatures across the city.

He said the pandemic has prevented them from handling customers in person. They’re forced to process applications through a drop box and set up appointments with customers at a later date. O’Neal said the appointments are booked through mid-March.

“With the pandemic, and then on top of that this tumultuous weather that we’re experiencing, we’re busier than normal,” O’Neal said. “A lot of folks are coming through our doors and asking for assistance. Actually, more than normal. Typically, we have a drop off around Valentine’s Day, February 14th, but we’re still booked all the way through mid March at this time.”

Across the city, the phones have been ringing off the hook at Chapman Heating and Cooling.

Wil Chapman and his operations manager Judd Martin have been doing their best to fit every customer into a tight schedule, while also keeping the wellbeing of their technicians in mind.

“The cold weather really has us going solid,” Martin said. “Our service department is really busy fixing furnaces and trying to keep people online. Obviously, we don’t want somebody with no heat in this kind of weather. It could be terrible, especially with these cold nights that we’ve been having. So, we’re just trying to keep everybody warm.”

Martin said their team has also talked to several customers about ways to save money on their utility bills in the coming months.

Those methods include:

  • Drop the thermostat a few degrees and keep it steady
  • Put a sweater or extra layer on in the house
  • Replace the furnace filter, even if it’s been changed recently
  • Brush or shovel the snow away from an outside unit, if applicable

“We are running our furnaces and our heat pumps longer every day,” Martin said. “They’re staying on almost constant all day, because of the weather that we’re having right now. So we’re going to see a spike in the LG&E bills that’s just what we’re going to do.”

For more information on Louisville’s LIHEAP, click here.

O’Neal said people need specific paperwork in order to apply, including:

  • Proof of income for every member of the household for the previous month
  • Proof of social security card for each member of the household
  • Most recent heating bill

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