CenterPoint Energy is offering bill assistance and energy-saving resources.
The company announced the Indiana North natural gas territory will likely see an increase in bills compared to last winter due to natural gas market conditions.
According to a news release from CenterPoint, customers can expect to pay $135 a month on average over a five-month heating season of November through March.
CenterPoint Energy utilities are not allowed to mark up or profit from the purchase and sale of natural gas. Only costs approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission are recovered from customers. The natural gas is purchased on behalf of customers and the costs are passed on to customers through the gas cost adjustment, which is listed as “Gas Cost Charge” on the bill.
Natural gas is the most affordable heating source. According to CenterPoint, “Gas customers who heated their homes with natural gas last year saved up to $1,152 compared to those who heat with propane and up to $307 to $1,244 compared to those who heat with an electric heat pump or electric furnace, respectively.”
CenterPoint Energy has several tools to help customers manage their energy bills.
Energy Assistance Program
State and federal utility assistance dollars are available for income-eligible customers. Those who fall within 60% of state median income should visit their local community action agency to sign up for the EAP. To apply, customers should call 800-872-0371 to locate their nearest community action agency. Customers also may apply any time at the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority website at eap.ihcda.in.gov.
Universal Service Program
All eligible natural gas heating customers who apply and qualify for EAP will automatically be enrolled in the USP, which provides additional gas bill reductions that range from 15% to 32% of the total bill received (not including EAP benefits) in the months of December through May. The USP, which has been in place since 2005, is the result of a collaborative effort by CenterPoint Energy, Citizens Energy Group, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, Citizens Action Coalition and a group representing industrial customers.
Due date extension and payment arrangement
These are two free offerings available to customers in need of a special payment plan on a temporary basis in order to keep service connected and manage energy costs.
Energy efficiency resources
CenterPoint Energy offers energy efficiency tips, appliance rebates and energy-saving tools to help customers lower their natural gas bills. All Indiana residential and small commercial natural gas customers are eligible. Visit centerpointenergy.com/smartsavings or call 866-240-8476 for a list of rebates, qualifying appliances and energy efficiency tips.
Under this billing plan, a customer’s estimated costs for a year of gas service are spread in equal monthly bill amounts for the year. This leveling of monthly bill amounts reduces the need to pay the full amount in the winter and spreads some of those higher bill charges into the nonheating months. Amounts are adjusted each summer for actual costs, and the customer’s credit or amount due rolls into the next budget bill payment for the next 12-month period. Customers can enroll for free at centerpointenergy.com or by calling 800-227-1376.