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Tips Offered for Preparing for the 2018 Heating Season

August 17, 2018 – The Minnesota Commerce Department is offering some tips for families to prepare for the 2018 heating season. As the cooling season comes to an end, many LIHEAP and Community Action Agencies are preparing for the administration of the heating season during the fall and winter months. It is important for families to prepare for the heating season and learn about their options for energy assistance in their area if they feel they may need assistance.

The following tips for preparing for the heating season are offered by the Minnesota Commerce Department:

• Buy early. Fill up your fuel tanks to minimize the high-demand prices before the fall and winter months. It is usually best to buy during the summer and early fall when there is less demand and prices are generally lower.
• Consider a budget plan to spread out the payments. A law signed by Gov. Mark Dayton after a shortage in 2014 requires most propane distributors to offer customers a budget payment plan. Distributors must notify budget-plan customers of price or fee changes that may affect their monthly payment amount by more than 20 percent.
• Know your rights. The 2014 law also established consumer protections, including transparent pricing. Distributors are required to inform customers of the current per-gallon price and additional charges, fees and discounts. There is also a prohibition on extra fees, such as adding any service, distribution, transportation or other fees to the bills of customers who enter into a contract with the distributor.
• Explore energy efficiency options. Programmable thermostats, insulation, high-efficiency appliances and other energy-saving measures help reduce energy use and save money. See the Commerce Department’s Home Energy Guide for ways to make your home more energy efficient.
• Apply for energy assistance. The state’s Energy Assistance Program is available to help eligible low-income Minnesotans pay their energy bills. Applications will be accepted beginning October 1. Information about the Energy Assistance Program is available on the Commerce Department website or by calling 1-800-657-3710.

To learn more about LIHEAP assistance in your area, visit the LIHEAP Clearinghouse here.