Summer customer assistance programs available
Guest Editorial and Photos by National Grid
As temperatures rise, staying cool means being comfortable and healthy. National Grid is offering summertime energy-efficiency tips and payment options to help our customers stay safe and save money on their bills.
“Saving money on your energy bills is as simple as adjusting your thermostat or running fans along with your air conditioning to distribute the cooler air in a room,” said Melanie Littlejohn, National Grid vice president of customer and community engagement.
Taking steps like raising your thermostat one degree or keeping curtains drawn during the sunniest parts of the day can create measurable savings on your monthly energy bill. For our most economically vulnerable customers, summer cooling assistance programs provide additional support to manage their energy costs.
“There are a number of other low- and no-cost steps our customers can take to reduce their energy usage and save money, as well as programs to assist those who need a little extra help during the summer months,” Littlejohn said.
Beat the Heat With Energy Efficiency
Simple energy-efficiency steps can also reduce your energy usage. Closing window drapes and blinds during the day can block the sun’s light and heat into your home. Running fans along with your air conditioning creates a windchill effect by distributing and circulating cold air throughout a room, allowing you to turn up your thermostat. Changing or cleaning the reusable filter in your air conditioner can improve air flow and efficiency.
National Grid recommends the following actions to make your home more energy efficient:
√ Have your central air conditioner checked. Just like you have your furnace serviced and cleaned each fall, you should have your central air conditioning system checked prior to summer. Professionals will perform a comprehensive examination on your outside condenser and inside fan to ensure your system is working at peak efficiency.
√ Replace your air filter. Dirty air filters on central and room air conditioning systems can choke off the flow of air to your home’s ventilation system. Changing your filter as directed by the manufacturer not only permits air to flow freely, but it helps your air conditioning run more efficiently.
√ Vacuum your air intake vents and keep them clear. Dust builds up on your home’s air returns. A couple of minutes with a vacuum can keep the air flow moving. Move toys, furniture and other objects away from the intake vent to keep air moving.
√ Consider rearranging furniture near your thermostat or room air conditioner. Lamps and televisions radiate heat and, if they are too close to the thermostat, your air conditioning could run more and longer than necessary to cool a room.
√ Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs. Incandescent light bulbs are inefficient to use and emit more heat than an LED bulb. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED bulbs use at least 75% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.
√ Turn off lights when you’re not using them. This can help save money by reducing your electricity bills, extend the life of your light bulbs, and result in buying bulbs less often.
√ Consider installing a programmable or smart thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow you to run your air conditioning on a schedule. Smart thermostats offer the ability to control your home’s temperature from your mobile device or computer. Preset your schedule, adjust temperatures remotely, and take full control of your cooling. Smart thermostats could lower your energy bills by up to $180 a year.
√ Prep your home when you go on vacation. If there’s a road trip or beach vacation on your calendar, take a couple of extra steps such as turning up your thermostat to keep your air conditioning from running while no one is home. Unplug electronics with remote control or “instant on” features and save $4 a month.
Images courtesy of National Grid
When the Heat Arrives
√ Turn up the temperature on your thermostat. The lower you set your air conditioning temperature, the more costly it is to operate. For example, a 75-degree setting costs about 18% more than a 78-degree setting. Don’t compromise your comfort or safety, but use this to test how cool you really need it.
√ Run fans with your air conditioning. Oscillating or box fans near your air conditioning vents create an air flow like winter windchills, as cold air is circulated throughout the room.
√ Close your window coverings. Ambient sunlight can heat a room. Drawing your curtains and blinds can reduce the sun’s heating of your home, and keep your air conditioning from running more than necessary.
√ Think twice before starting your oven. Conventional and convection ovens can add unnecessary heat to your home and force your air conditioner to run unnecessarily. Keep the heat outside by using a grill or, if that’s not an option, consider using a microwave or slow cooker to do the job.
√ Know the signs of heat-related illness. Heavy sweating, muscle cramps and a fast pulse aren’t just signs of being warm. They are symptoms of heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Know the signs and pay extra attention to children, seniors and other vulnerable groups when the temperature and humidity rise.
Visit www.ngrid.com/ee to learn about our residential, multi-family, and commercial energy-efficiency programs, and find more information on ways to reduce your energy costs.
Summer Cooling Assistance for Income-Eligible Customers
The Home Energy Affordability Program, or HEAP, provides assistance to New Yorkers looking to stay cool through the summer season. Applications for 2023 HEAP cooling assistance benefits opened on May 1. Customers who meet qualifying income and residency criteria may receive up to $800 to purchase and install a portable air conditioner or fan, or up to $1,000 for a wall-sleeve air conditioning unit. Funds are limited and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis through your HEAP local district contact.
Billing Programs for All National Grid Customers
All residential customers, regardless of income, qualify for two programs to manage energy costs.
•National Grid’s budget billing plan spreads payments out more evenly across the year to help better manage energy costs. Budget billing smooths out peaks and valleys in customer bills, by using account history to make bills more predictable. Your account is reviewed periodically to make minor adjustments, and the company reconciles the account with customers annually.
•Deferred payment agreements aid customers who have fallen behind in their payments. Customers with past-due accounts can arrange to have their balance spread over multiple months to create manageable payments and avoid disconnections.
Residential customers who receive Supplement Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance or a retirement pension, and are enrolled in an active payment agreement, may qualify for a 10-day extension on their billing due date through the company’s bill extender program.
Click here to learn about available bill payment and assistance programs.
Information Available in Multiple Languages
Since 2022, National Grid’s consumer advocates have provided assistance to more than 27,000 New York households. National Grid has Spanish-speaking consumer advocates available to assist customers. They can be reached by calling 1-800-642-4272 or emailing [email protected]. In addition, translation services are available by phone for more than 120 languages and dialects.
Spanish- and Chinese-speaking customers may now find the cost-saving and energy-efficiency resources in their favored language at www.ngrid.com/heretohelp. Translation to more than 60 languages is available on National Grid’s website by visiting www.nationalgridus.com, scrolling to the bottom of the page, and choosing from the “Select Languages” dropdown box.