INDIANAPOLIS — Duke Energy, which already won approval for a rate hike effect that went into effect in July, is proposing another increase beginning in October. This time, for about 7% which equals roughly $11 per month for customers.

“Fuel costs go up and down,” Angeline Protogere, Spokesperson for Duke Energy, said. “Utilities do not profit from that. Customers pay what we pay. Unfortunately, like a lot of other things right now, the cost of fuel that we use to produce electricity and the cost to purchase it in energy markets is very high.”

If the increase is approved, it would go into effect from October through December.

“This is a temporary rate increase,” Protogere said. “Again, fuel costs fluctuate, and every quarter, four times a year, we update what those costs are.”

Duke acknowledged some customers need assistance in making their payments, and directed people to Managing Summer High Bills – Duke Energy (duke-energy.com which helps with budget billing, usage alerts and financial help, as well as more information on what’s driving bills: State President Letter – Newsletter (duke-energy.com)

Protogere said Duke extended its interest-free payment plans for eligible customers to six months, and added $100,000 to the Share the Light funds. You can find more information here.

Eligible Hoosiers can get help with electricity assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) during the months of October through May. You can find more information at www.in.gov/ihcda.

The LIHEAP program supports Indiana residents at are at or below 60% of the state median. That benefit is based on:

  • Household income
  • Dwelling type (Mobile Home, Single site, Multi-Unit-Duplex or greater)
  • Primary Heating source (Natural Gas, Electric, Propane, or Biofuels)
  • At-Risk (does the household include someone under the age of five, over age 60, with a disability or of veteran status)

CBS4 also spoke with Homesense Heating & Cooling about how all Hoosiers can guard against wasting money on cooling.

“The biggest area of risk is just infiltration through the windows,” Brian Schutt said. “So, the more that you can have blinds closed, you’re going to have less sunlight coming in. Or, you can bump up your thermostat setting throughout the day. Maybe you’re not there, you can bump it up to 75 or higher so you’re putting less pressure on that system. That’s going to reduce the stress and reduce the cost.”

Schutt said people sometimes put too much stress on their systems when the weather is hot.

“They come home and they have it set for 72 but it’s only 75 in the house,” Schutt explained. “They don’t want it 75 so they’ll set it down to 65 but the way the thermostats work is, they’re just telling the system to run until it hits a certain temperature. So, if it can’t hit 72, it certainly can’t hit 65. All that’s going to do is have the air conditioner run for hours and hours.”

Schutt also encouraged people to keep their air conditioners in good condition to help them operate at their best.

“So, feeling is probably the biggest impact but sometimes just taking a look at especially the outdoor system as it has more pressure on it, it’s going to probably be making some noises that don’t seem very normal,” Schutt explained. “Anytime you hear a metal sound, that’s probably a risk.”