Last updated: September 22. 2013 6:42PM - 626 Views
Jennifer Shrader Staff writer

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With fall finally starting to settle in, there are ways to keep your friendly meter reader from logging numbers that mean high numbers on utility bills.

LaGrange Utilities Director Patrick Bowie says the first question he asks when someone complains about a high bill from the city is “Where do you set your thermostat?”

“After a long pause, I usually hear numbers like 72, 73, 74,” Bowie said. “Setting a thermostat at this level in the summer or winter will cause a customer’s bill to be higher than normal. The federal Department of Energy recommends 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter. For people struggling to pay their bills, I suggest nudging the thermostat even higher in the summer and lower in the winter. The further you go, the more you save.”

The city offers the following tips for customers to lower rates. Other than watching the thermostat, attic insulation should be at least 9 inches deep for maximum savings. Crawl spaces should have six inches of insulation installed between floor joints.

Windows and window panes should also be airtight – storm windows or double-pane glass will help. Outside doors should be snug with no gaps. Use weather-stripping as needed.

Residents with fireplaces should keep the dampers closed when the fireplace isn’t being used. Deciduous trees may also be planted on the south and west sides of homes to control sunlight.

Maintaining heating and air conditioning units is also important. Use duct tape to make repairs on loose fittings or gaps in the ducts. Air filters should be changed once a month or as recommended by the manufacturer, and the units should be serviced annually by a professional.

To keep water bills low, watch for leaks in faucets and toilets. A dripping leak alone uses 15 gallons of water a day. A half-inch leak consumes 60,900 gallons of water a day according to the city.

Bowie says LaGrange utility rates are consistently lower to other utility providers.

“We must take control of our utility bills by looking for ways to conserve energy. No matter how cheap the utility rates, using a lot of energy is going to drive your bill up,” he said.

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