A message from the Controller, Corey O’Connor
It is with great pleasure that I present this resource guide for the residents of Allegheny County. With the rising prices of electricity and natural gas, this guide has been established to assist residents in becoming informed on available programs to help keep essential expenses at a minimum during this challenging time.
Currently, we are seeing 10, 20 or even 30 percent increases to monthly utility bills. Knowing how to lock in a fixed rate and create budgetary certainty can be of great benefit to consumers.
This guide identifies local assistance programs as well as contact information for your utility provider. The safety and security of County residents must be a priority for government, and my office is here to help
What to look for when locking in a third-party provider
When choosing a third-party supplier, it is critical to review the contract completely and understand what is expected. The difference between a fixed rate and a variable rate is something you should know about.
During the term of the contract, a fixed does not fluctuate.
In a variable rate contract, the rate will change up and down throughout the contract or until it is canceled.
Fixed rates are the most consistent when it comes to creating budget certainty. It is, however imperative to pay attention to the expiration date and renegotiate a new fixed rate before it does.
Utility Scam Prevention Tips
It is not uncommon for criminals to pose as representatives of local utility companies and solicit payments over the phone or by email. Once they have obtained your financial information, they can use it to their own advantage.
This is the first sign that the caller is trying to steal from you. Utility companies will not accept payment with gift cards.
If the request feels off in any way, write down as much information as you can from the caller, then call the utility provider directly.
Don’t be pushed into acting right away.
You can lock yourself into unfavorable rates with one-day sales or free gift cards. Always check what you’re signing and make sure you can cancel at any time.
Cost Saving Tools
Existing Provider Tops to Lower Costs.
It may be possible to reduce your costs without moving to a third-party provider. The following are some tips that can help with energy usage during the winter and summer months.
- Utilize a programmable thermostat – these devices can be used to learn your schedule while setting energy-saving temperatures for when you’re away.
- Lower your water heating temperature.
- Open blinds during the day an close them at night.
- Remove window air conditioning units.
- Have your HVAC unit services every fall in preparation for winter. This service can prolong the life of your equipment while keeping it in peak condition.
- Utilize a programmable thermostat, as these devices can be used to learn your schedule while setting energy-saving temperatures for when you’re away
- Close curtains and blinds to block the sun during the day.
- Use ceiling fans with AC to reduce cooling needs.
- Utilize heat-generating appliances in the evening.
- Have your AC unit serviced in the spring to prepare for the summer. This service can prolong the life of your equipment while keeping it in peak condition.
Lastly, remember to change your furnace filter at least every 4 – 6 months.
To lower your monthly price per kilowatt hour (kWh), residents can use this website to shop for the best available rate. The Pennsylvania Utility Commission approved it, an Pennsylvania Electricity Companies promote it.
Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) gives cash grants to low-income families to help them pay their heating bills. Households in immediate danger of going without heat can also qualify for crisis grants. The cash grant is a one-time payment sent directly to your utility company/fuel provider. Depending on your household size, income, an fuel type, you can get $300 to $1,000. Don’t forget, this is a grant, not a loan.
Utility Company Contacts
- Duquesne Light Company 412-393-7100 Duquesnelight.com
- West Penn Power 1-800-686-0021 FirstEnergyCorp.com/west_penn_power.html
- Columbia Gas 1-888-460-4332 ColumbiaGasPA.com
- Peoples Natural Gas 1-800-764-0111 Peoples-Gas.com
- Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority 412-255-2423 PGH2O.com
- Pennsylvania American Water 1-800-565-7292 AmWater.com
- Alcosan 412-766-4810 alcosan.org
- Coraopolis Water and Sewer Authority 412-264-2002 Coraopoliswater.org
- Fox Chapel Water Authority 412-963-0212 foxchapelwater.com
- Hampton-Shaler Water Authority 412-486-4867 hswa-pa.org
- Harmar Township Water Department 724-274-8028 harmarwater.com
- North Fayette Municipal Authority 724-788-4337 north-fayette.com
- Richland Water Authority 724-443-9100 richlandwaterauthority.com
- West View Water Authority 412-931-3500 WestViewWater.org