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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > December 2023 > Winter-weather financial help in Ohio

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Winter-weather financial help in Ohio


For some Ohioans, winter fuels extra worry about personal budgets, what with higher heating bills and other expenses. From enhancing energy efficiency to selecting utility companies, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office provides valuable seasonal tips to ensure safety, warmth and potential savings. 

Utility disconnections
When electric and natural gas bills come in higher than expected, many people feel added stress. If you’re struggling to pay your utility bills, you may be able to work out a payment plan with your local suppliers. Use the numbers on your monthly bill to inquire about a payment plan. Additionally, details on specific extended payment plans can be found here.
It’s important to understand that you have disconnection rights that must be honored before disconnection can take place. Be sure to learn about Ohio’s Special Reconnection Order, potentially reducing the cost of maintaining utility services in dropping temperatures.
Beware of scammers claiming that your overdue payments will soon lead to a loss of service. If contacted, request information that only an account representative should have, such as your address and account number. If the caller doesn’t have this information, asks for personal details or insists on gift-card payments, it’s likely a scam. Hang up and call your utility company directly using the number on your bill.

Wintertime energy savings and assistance efforts
To cut energy bills, consider getting a home-energy audit offered free (or for a moderate cost) by some local utility companies. Also, review this online checklist and holiday energy savings tip sheet to identify ways to use energy more efficiently. Explore low-income assistance programs such as the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which offers a one-time benefit for the winter heating season that is applied to electric, natural gas and/or bulk fuel bills. Individual utilities may have their own assistance programs.
In addition, be aware that certain governmental programs and grants are earmarked to help consumers pay their home energy bills and make improvements in energy efficiency. It’s important to make sure that you work with a legitimate program, as scammers may try to pose as a governmental program. When seeking weatherization assistance, legitimate information is available at the federal and state levels. Suspected fraud, waste and abuse related to federal programs can be reported to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General.
Tips for propane consumers
In light of the supply-chain challenges and driver shortages of the recent past, propane users must  prepare for the winter heating season. The Propane Education & Research Council and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office offer these tips:
  • Make sure that you have enough propane for winter. Never let the volume go below 25 percent without having placed a fill-up order with a propane supplier (the earlier, the better).
  • If you run out of propane sooner than anticipated, call your supplier immediately so the supplier can inspect your system for potential leaks.
  • Always be sure to have a clear path to your propane tank for easy delivery.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office can help with propane level emergencies, as the office prioritizes such cases.
Switching your energy supplier
Rising energy prices may attract competitive electric and natural gas suppliers, but savings are not guaranteed. Before switching, learn how to make smart energy decisions and how to spot a utility scam. Verify any “discount” or “rebate” offers from callers claiming to be your utility by contacting the utility directly using the number on your bill. Report potential scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
Consumers who suspect a scam or an unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.