Friday, January 28, 2022

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The Indiana House passes a controversial bill barring schools from teaching about Critical Race Theory; and President Biden pledges to place a Black woman on the Supreme Court for the first time.

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Justice Stephen Breyer formally announces his retirement; the Dept. of Education will help students who fell behind during the pandemic; and AZ lawmakers consider a bill granting them control over elections.

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Free COVID tests by mail but some rural Americans need to go the extra mile; farmer storytellers join national campaign to battle corporate consolidation; specialty nurses want more authority; and rare bat gets credit for the mythic margarita.

With Winter Months Ahead, Tips to Manage Home Heating Bills

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Friday, December 31, 2021   

As Pennsylvanians move into winter, the state's top utility agency offers some tips on keeping bills down during the peak energy-use season.

Three main factors contribute to heating costs: the amount of energy used, its price, and the weather.

Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, said one way to manage costs is to shop for competitive electric and natural gas suppliers. Depending on the time of year, the national energy market and personal preferences, you might find a cheaper plan.

He listed some other energy-saving tips that can make a big difference.

"Simple things, like paying attention to your thermostat," Hagen-Frederiksen suggested. "In the winter, depending on your home and your heating system, a one-degree change in your thermostat can impact your bill by up to 3%. Turning down the thermostat when you're away can add up to a large amount of dollars at the end of the month."

Homeowners and renters can shop for electric and natural gas suppliers online, at PAPowerSwitch.com and PAGasSwitch.com. Other ways to save on energy bills include keeping furnace filters and ducts clean and winterizing your home with insulation and storm doors.

For some families and small business owners, affording energy bills is a real concern. If you are in a difficult financial situation, Hagen-Frederiksen recommended calling your utility company to see if you qualify for assistance.

"Your utilities understand all of the programs that are available to them," Hagen-Frederiksen explained. "They may be utility-run consumer assistance programs. There are hardship funds, charitable programs. There are federal programs like LIHEAP. There's COVID-related rental and energy assistance
."

Utility assistance programs reached 293,000 electric customers and 167,000 natural gas customers in the state last year, helping them reduce monthly energy bills.


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