COLORADO SPRINGS — We're several months into the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and we know for many southern Colorado families it's still a struggle finding ways to pay the bills and make ends meet. News5 learned making a call about your utility bill could save you money and give you peace of mind.
During the pandemic, people’s homes have turned into offices and even classrooms. It’s why utility companies say now is time to make the call to make sure you can heat your home during the winter months safely and efficiently. It could end up saving you money on your utility bill.
"I would always sit and worry about my appliances and things. It got real bad when I wasn't working and the heater goes out. It was really scary. I'd sit up all night," said Patricia, a Colorado Springs resident.
Patricia came face to face with the challenges of paying the bills, but she had the courage to ask for help.
"It's hard to ask for help. It is," said Patricia. "I know a lot of people will need this."
She worries this year with people needing their homes for work and even as virtual classrooms even more people will face increasing utility bill costs this winter.
"Make the phone call. Absolutely make the phone call. It is so worth it. It will give you peace of mind," said Patricia.
The National Energy Assistance Directors Association says high energy bills are a major concern because people decide to go without food, skip medical or dental appointments, and don't fill prescriptions to make sure they have the money to afford those utility bills.
"A lot of people are in situations that maybe they weren't in before," said Colorado Springs Utilities Spokesperson Danielle Oller. "Maybe they have never had to file for unemployment or being a situation where they're concerned about their bill. So, it is hard. That can be a hard situation. So we want to really encourage people to take take a moment to learn a little bit about the programs available and make a call to 211."
One of the organizations ready to help people across southern Colorado is the state and federally funded Energy Resource Center.
"There's very few companies out there that can both improve your comfort while lowering your utility bill and that's exactly what we do," said Paul Maestas of Energy Resource Center.
Auditing the safety and energy efficiency of homes, these experts tell News5 they're constantly uncovering some dangerous and costly situations.
"People are using the wrong appliance to heat their home such as their gas oven we often find inadequacies in the insulation levels in homes also other hazards such as mold poor air quality," said Maestas.
Working to audit homes statewide, the Energy Resource Center helped to save Colorado residents almost $300,000 on their utility bills last year.
"We run into situations where we find gas leaks and the gas leak may not be posing an immediate threat because it's outside at the meter, but then it raises the issue of paying for utilities that you're not actually consuming," said Maestas.
"For the Energy Resource Center there are thousands of customers in Colorado Springs that qualify and so it's important for folks to find out if in fact they qualify and to reach out for help," said Maestas.
Patricia did qualify and it has changed her life.
"I am so very very grateful. My utility bill has already gone down," said Patricia."I have grandchildren. It's hard on everybody and you know the winter is especially hard. Bills this year are going to be high and it'll probably be cold and so yeah I think it is a huge stress reliever."
Useful contact information:
Energy Resource Center
Pikes Peak United Way
Colorado Springs Utilities
San Isabel Electric
(719) 322 - 2000
Black Hills Energy
Mountain View Electric