Winter Utility Bills Add Insult to Injury

The winter of 2014 has been bad enough already, with record cold temperatures, snow and ice—but it could get worse as your utility bill hits your checkbook. People carefully shop for everything from groceries to clothes, but very few people shop for utility prices. What should you shop for? And how?

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Shop Around for Electricity

Most states now offer programs that allow utilities to compete for your business and consumers to shop around for electric and natural gas prices.

If you live in Ohio, check out www.energychoice.ohio.gov. Cincinnati-area residents served by Duke Energy may be able to get electricity through a subsidiary called Duke Retail that has rates 15% lower than the comparable Duke Energy rates. This doesn't apply to the full total of your monthly bill, only the energy consumption element, but savings are savings! Cincinnati-area residents served by Duke Energy will have to shop separately for electric and natural gas rates. It may be too late to shop for natural gas rates for this winter, but check out electric rates before the summer air-conditioning season starts.

Insulate Your Attic

Energy saving tips abound, but the best "bang for your buck" probably comes from adding more insulation to your attic. Even if your house is relatively new, increasing your attic insulation pays off in both winter and summer. This can be a do-it-yourself job (though not at the Berno household, trust me) or a contractor job.

Save yourself some green, and shop for your electric and gas rates just like you do everything else. Remember, spring and summer will come eventually!