Sunday, January 28, 2001

Frequently asked questions




       

        The Cincinnati Enquirer
asked the experts at Cinergy Corp. for answers to these frequently asked questions:

        What's the ideal setting for my thermostat?

        The lowest temperature that's comfortable for you. Recommended: 68 degrees when home, at least 5 degrees lower overnight or when no one is home.

        Is it better to leave the thermostat alone, or lower it at night and when I'm away from the house?

        It's always better to turn down the thermostat. For every degree the thermostat is turned down, the heat bill declines 3 percent. Any thermostat change within 15 degrees is easily managed by the furnace without extra energy output.

        What temperature should my water heater be set on?

        A setting of 120 degrees (often lower than the manufacturer's setting), is hot enough for showers and clothes washers. Old dishwashers require 140 degrees, but newer models have heat boosters inside.

        I can't do without my oven. Any tips for saving money there?

        Don't open the oven door while baking. Be ready to put food in the oven as soon as it's preheated. Preheating for too long forces the oven to work harder, wasting gas or electricity.

        Should I use my ceiling fans?

        Yes. In the winter, fans should be run on low speed in the counterclockwise direction, which forces hot air down from high ceilings. In summer, fans should be run clockwise for the opposite effect.

        Should I pull my drapes?

        On sunny winter days, drapes should be opened to take advantage of the free solar heat. They should be closed at night to prevent drafts. The opposite should be done in the summer.

        I think my bill is in error. What should I do?

        Contact the Cinergy Call Center at 421-9500 to ask about the bill.

        I can't afford this bill. Whom do I call?

        Call the Cinergy Credit Department at 651-5100. An extended payment plan provides you with additional days to pay your bill.

        Cinergy also can refer you to the community action agency that handles the Home Energy Assistance Program in your county. Or you can try calling the agencies directly, at 751-2624 in Hamilton County and (859) 291-8607 in Northern Kentucky.

        Can I pay my bill in installments?

        Call Cinergy at 421-9500 to ask about payment options.

        The Budget Billing Plan evenly spreads payments over the year. The Adjusted Due Date Program allows you to adjust your bill's due date five to 10 days forward for your convenience.

        My bill says I might save money by switching to another gas supplier. How do I find one?

        There are no alternative gas suppliers accepting residential customers in the Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. service area now. Information on the Ohio Gas Choice Program is available from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's Web site at www.puc.state.oh.us/. This includes an apples-to-apples comparison of prices for electricity and natural gas throughout the state.

        There are no alternative energy suppliers for Northern Kentucky.

        My gas usage was estimated. Is this good or bad?

        That depends on whether the estimate was higher or lower than your actual use. Cinergy calculates estimates based on the use patterns of similar customers for the same period.

        If the meter reader cannot get inside, he or she will leave a postcard allowing you to read your own meter and mail the results. You also can contact Cinergy at 21-9500 to submit your reading or email the reading to the utility through its Web site, www.cinergy.com.

        How can I get an energy auditor to analyze my home?

        Call 831-1781 or (800) 231-9652 to schedule an appointment.

        For more help

        • The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which helps low- to moderate-income families pay their utility bills, can be reached in Ohio by calling (800) 282-0880.

        In Kentucky, call (800) 456-3452, or (859) 586-9250 in Boone County, (859) 431-8870 in Campbell, (859) 291-8607 in Kenton.

        • Heatshare is a program for Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. customers supported by customer donations and Cinergy contributions. Call the Salvation Army in your neighborhood for more information.

        • Wintercare, similar to Heatshare, is a program for Union Light, Heat & Power Co. customers in Kentucky. Call HEAP numbers listed above.

        • People Working Cooperatively offers free weatherization to Ohio and Kentucky homeowners and renters meeting income guidelines. Call -351-7921 or go to www.pwchomerepairs.org.

        Ask the experts

        Have questions about the high cost of gas? Questions about ways to conserve energy? Send us your questions, we'll ask the experts and report the answers in days to come. Use our e-mail form or send questions, with your name and phone number, to Betty Barnett, Enquirer reader representative, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati, 45202. Or call 768-8299 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

       



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