fireplace socksMADISONVILLE, Ky. (2/13/14) - As temperatures drop into freezing conditions, it is only natural that Madisonville residents have pumped up the gas and cranked up the heat to feel comfortable.

Turning up the temperatures, however, might cause a state of shock for some customers when they receive their January utility bills in the next couple weeks.

Madisonville Municipal Utilities has had several inquiries from customers with increased electric and gas bills, said Electric Superintendent Jim Asbury.

"Customers are mostly extremely understanding," said Asbury. "Particularly this winter when we have seen an increase in cold weather, customers have turned the heat up and they are seeing higher bills ... it is a delicate balance to be comfortable."

Pennyrile Allied Community Services officials said they have assisted 576 households with their utility bills this winter. Bobbi Wilcox, director, said customers' bills have been anywhere between $100 and $900.

With help from LIHEAP (Low Income Heating Emergency Assistance Program), PACS has spent $142,805 aiding families, who cannot keep up with their bills.

The first-come-first-serve program assists electricity customers up to $400, and provides up to 200 gallons of propane for gas users.

Electricity applicants have to show proof of disconnection notice; gas applicants have to provide notarized proof of propane as a primary source of heating.

Usually PACS and LIHEAP aid customers until March, but with many days of inclement weather this winter, Wilcox says she "doesn't foresee" that happening this year.

According to the director, as soon as the grant is gone, so is the aid.

The assistance program does not apply to all customers, so there are several things they can do to decrease their electric and gas bill for the remaining colder months.

MMU offers these tips:

  • Change filters monthly.
  • Lower thermostat to 68 degrees.
  • Open curtains for solar warmth and close them at nighttime.
  • Feel for air leaks and cover them with masking tape.
  • Close fireplace.
  • Reduce water heater to 120.
  • Shut exit doors quickly after use.
  • Use a programmable thermostat versus analogue.
  • Slowly bring temperatures up on thermostat.
For more information on LIHEAP, go to: http://www.pacs-ky.org/.

Taylor Riley
SurfKY News

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