COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbia Gas of Ohio says it has seen about a 50 percent increase in the price of natural gas this year compared to last winter.

But home energy expert Travis Lucas says you can save a significant amount of money on your heating bill with a few steps to winterize your home.

“Health and safety are first and foremost for our customers,” said Lucas.

Lucas has been performing home energy audits throughout Central Ohio for the last 30 years. He starts by finding any spots in the home where cold air may be leaking into the interior. Repairing these leaks is the first step in keeping heating costs down.

“Anybody can come in and insulate your attic for you, but if it’s not air-sealed and done properly, you’ve wasted all that money and you didn’t make much of a difference at all,” said Lucas.

He also takes a thermal imaging camera throughout the home. “And it’s basically giving us a picture in temperatures,” Lucas added.

During the audit, he performs several safety checks. “Gas leaks from the gas meter all through the house, we’re going to run combustion safety testing on all your gas appliances,” said Lucas.

Once the audit is complete, Lucas provides recommendations for repairs.

“The home energy audit is a great tool to look at that envelope of your home, to really understand, are you using that gas as efficiently as you can,” said Vince Parisi, President and CEO of Columbia Gas of Ohio.

Parisi says depending on the size of your home, the amount you can save after an audit varies.

“The savings can be fairly significant, you can see 10, 15, 20 percent savings,” said Parisi.

If you’re struggling to pay your heating bill, it is important to reach out to your provider for programs that can assist you.

“There are budget bill programs that we can put you on, we’re going to be here to help, we’re here to try and keep our customers warm and safe,” said Parisi.

Lucas recommends several ways to save on energy:

  • Keep your blinds open during the day to let the sunlight warm your home.
  • Be sure to change your furnace filter at least every 3 months.
  • Place weather strips on windows and doors and make sure the caulking is sealed properly.
  • Get your heating unit serviced by a professional once a year.
  • Install a programmable or smart thermostat.

“To set back your temperatures yourself, or automatically, that’s a big saver,” said Lucas.

A home energy audit can range in price from free, for those who qualify, to around $50. For more information, visit: https://www.columbiagasohio.com/energy-efficiency/for-your-home

For Your Home – Columbia Gas of Ohio WarmChoice® Income Eligible Weatherization. Let us help. Income-eligible customers can receive no-cost home weatherization, plus safety checks of natural gas appliances and energy inspections, attic and wall insulation, air sealing, natural gas furnace repair or replacement, and natural gas water heater repair or replacement – all at zero cost. www.columbiagasohio.com