RCA Consumer Advisory for Winter Heating

    The consumer protection staff of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska provides consumers with the following information to offer assistance, ensure safety and help lower heating costs during this cold winter season.

   Be Energy Safe & Smart.  There are simple and low-costs actions that consumers can take to lower their heating bills.  More information can be found on the Department of Energy website.
  · First, your furnace, gas appliances, wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys, chimney connectors, and all other solid-fueled heating equipment need to be checked by a professional and cleaned as often as the professional suggests.

  · Change or clean filters in heating and cooling units periodically.  A dirty furnace filter can drive up the cost of heating your home.

  · Close leaks around doors, windows, and other openings, such as pipes or ducts, with caulking or weather-stripping.

  · Avoid blocking heating registers and air returns with furniture, draperies, or carpet.

  · Check to see if your attic, crawlspace, or basement has the suggested levels of insulation. Add insulation as needed.

   Need Assistance with Energy Bills?

  ·  Apply to the Heating Assistance Program (HAP).  This program runs from November 1 through April 30.  Households with seniors or disabled individuals may apply for the program on or after September 1.  The Alaska Legislature approved additional HAP funding for residents with incomes between 150% to 225% of the poverty income guidelines.  For more information about the HAP, visit the Department of Health & Social Service's website  or call 1-800-470-3058.

  ·  Apply for a Weatherization & Energy Rebate through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC). This program allows homeowners to recoup a portion of their costs from making energy efficiency improvements.  For more information, visit the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation's website  or contact AHFC at 338-6100 or 1-800-478-AHFC.

  ·  Avoid unnecessary late fees, finance and other charges.  A bill will be considered past due if not paid within 25 days from the date billed; therefore it’s crucial to pay each bill on time to avoid late fees and finance charges. 

  ·  Enroll in budget billing.  A budget billing or “level pay” plan allows consumers to make equal utility payments over a 12-month period.  Budget billing includes a true-up adjustment at the end of the budget billing cycle to determine the variance between the budgeted amount and actual energy charges.  Contact your utility company to obtain more information about budget billing or level pay option.

The consumer protection staff of the RCA is available to assist consumers in an informal process to resolve utility disputes, help arrange payment plans, and direct consumers to social service agencies that may have available funds to assist in meeting energy costs. Contact the RCA consumer protection staff at (907) 276-6222, or 1-800-390-2782 (outside Anchorage), or via email at cp.mail@alaska.gov.  The RCA's complaint form is also available on the following link: Submit an Informal Complaint.  


Date Issued: 1/13/2009