Free items from utility companies: Lower your monthly bill while conserving

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Columbia Gas created the warm wise program to help lower your bill. The utility will send you a box filled with low flow shower nozzles, sink aerators and insulating wraps for your hot water tank.

"We believe people should use what they need, conserve, be efficient in their use and these are some ways we can help encourage them," said Bob Innes with Columbia Gas.

Dominion Virginia Power's lighting program lessens the cost of Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFL).

"Customers are not only getting the bulbs at a discounted price, but then when they use them every day in their home, they are decreasing their electricity use as well," Energy Conservation Program Manager Liz Thomson said.

CFL's save an average of $69 over their lifetime. Cheaper bulbs can be found at Walmart, Sam's Club, Costco, Lowes, BJ's and Ace Hardware.

Then there's "smart cooling rewards". Dominion will install a switch on your a/c unit or heat pump that limits the output to 50% in peak usage periods.

"There's no cost to put the switch on the home and for participating, you get 40 dollars at the end of the season so were just sending out roughly 30,000 checks now," said Tom Jewell, Energy Conservation Program Manager.

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative offers free energy audits. Energy experts will evaluate your home and provide a list of recommendations to help lower your utility bills. There's also a "do-it-yourself" audit on REC's website.

Virginia Natural Gas customers can request a free programmable thermostat or a $25 rebate if you buy your own. Following the manufacturer's guidelines could save you $180 a year.

If you want to participate in any of these programs, sign up on the utilities websites or give them a call.

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