As energy bills skyrocket, assistance programs can help - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Energy bills skyrocket, assistance programs can help

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Even though the temperatures look to be on the rise, so does the price you'll be paying on your utility bills.

"We've used more space heaters this February than we've used in the last 10 years probably," says Vance Wiegand, owner of Egelston-Maynard Sports.

Staying warm at all costs - that's what folks throughout the Tri-State did for the last several weeks. But now many are paying for it, literally. 

"We're looking at probably a 30 percent increase from last month to this month and probably a 40 percent increase from this year February to last year February," explains Wiegand.

Wiegand says they're down a few hundred dollars because of utilities. He adds that older buildings like theirs also don't keep all the warm air inside.

"Yeah it's difficult when that front door opens, you get a cold blast of air," explains Wiegand.

Duke Energy officials say they haven't calculated the official totals for last month's energy consumption but they're expecting it to be one of the highest ever.

"January was historically cold for us in this area, we did set a peak for winter usage," said Sally Thelen with Duke Energy.

Darryl Marksberry says he's tried to winterize his home, but the cold was simply too much some days.

"Our electric bill has sky-rocketed through the roof. In our cabin alone we have I think seven space heaters," says Marksberry.

Marksberry says his most recent electric bill was 40 percent more than usual.

"Budgeting into the winter environment knowing that you're going to have a higher energy bill alone let alone your food costs your backup water, it is actually a burden," explains Marksberry.

But help is out there. Sally Thelen says they work with different groups to offer special assistance for the elderly and low-income families as well as their budget billing program.

"We know it's a challenging time of year, you're coming right off the holidays you got this terrible cold spell. It is very challenging but there are options out there for you," says Sally Thelen.

There are a wide range of programs and companies that are out there to help. For more information visit http://www.duke-energy.com/ohio/assistance.asp

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