Besides applying for the low-income discount, fuel assistance, the Good Neighbor Fund, and/or funds from other private sources, you can take the following steps to reduce your monthly electricity and gas bills.
1. Continuous Level Billing
If you have trouble paying your heating bills in the winter, you may want to consider this payment option for your heat source utility. With continuous level billing, the company averages your bills from the past year in order to determine your average monthly bill. You are then billed this fixed amount every month. For example: Assume you have electric heat and pay $200 per month for the six months when the weather is cold, but only $60 per month when the weather is warm. Your average monthly bill is $130 per month. With continuous level billing, the company would bill you $130 each month year-round, so that you can avoid ever having to pay out $200 at one time. Companies generally enroll customers on level billing plans during the summer and fall months, and require that the customer be current on their bills to be able to enroll.
2. Weatherization and Heating System Programs
Your heating and cooling bills may be too high due to drafts, cracks, poor insulation, or an inefficient or broken heating system. Weatherizing your house or apartment and repairing your heating system can significantly reduce your bills.
There are local organizations across Massachusetts that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and from utility companies to provide weatherization assistance to low-income tenants and homeowners. To qualify for this assistance, your household income must be under 60% of median income (see chart at the end of this chapter). If you qualify, the organization will send a certified energy auditor to inspect your home. If the auditor finds that your home needs sealing, insulation, weatherstripping, or minor repairs related to weatherization, or that your heating system needs repair or replacement, the organization will hire a contractor to do the work at no cost to you.
To find the nearest organization offering these services, call the EOHLC Heatline at 800-632-8175 or go to Cold Relief Brochure
3. Getting Repairs Made
If your windows, flooring, walls, heating system, or thermostat are in need of repair, this can increase your heating and cooling bills substantially. Your landlord is responsible for keeping your apartment in safe and habitable condition. See Chapter 8: Getting Repairs Made for information on what to do.