If you’re a Torontonian you’re almost at the end of what has been the most horrific winter of all time. Barbaric low temperatures, relentless snow, zero sun, that ice storm and having to listen to our Winnipegger friends and colleagues tell us that we have no idea what cold is. Credit Canada has some information to help those with debt problems and big bills as a result of this unusually cold winter.
My apartment is heated by gas and I’ve discovered that the only thing more terrifying than realizing that your hydro is out when it’s minus 20 is getting your January gas bill! When I moved into my apartment the customer service rep at Enbridge who set up my account asked me if I would like to enroll for equal billing. I said no. BIG MISTAKE. Equal billing is great for those looking to avoid sudden unexpected expenses.
If you’re struggling with your utility bills and want to get or remain free from debt then there are two things you need to know about. The first is the Emergency Energy Fund (EEF) and the second is the Winter Warmth Program.
The Emergency Energy Fund (EEF). This fund is intended for low income households struggling with gas and hydro bills. This link is for residents of Ontario but check your local Government agency for their program if you don’t reside in Ontario.
Click here for more on the EEF
The Winter Warmth Program. If your energy bills are in arrears or if you’ve received a disconnection notice, you can apply for a one time grant through this program. If you do not see your town listed here then call your energy provider or local community agency for more information.
To avoid bill shock, you can also contact your utility companies to ask about online services they offer to view your account throughout the billing period.
Gas prices are about to become a much bigger problem for some of us. Enbridge states that because it was so cold for such a long period it was forced to buy more natural gas at a higher rate. As a result, Enbridge has applied for a 40% price hike. If approved by the Ontario Energy Board the new prices would take effect April 1st. If you're dealing with debt problems that hike may have a significant impact on your budget.
If you’re an Enbridge shareholder then, awesome! If you’re an Enbridge customer then, absurd! If it’s approved, I might bust out my once frivolous electric heater in private protest because there ain’t much else I can do other than use as little gas as humanly possible. They will feel the pain of my sudden drop in gas usage! I’ve already lowered the temperature a few degrees since the January bill shock but if anyone has any tips on how to save gas I would really love to hear them.
If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you’re having to choose between paying your utility bills or going into debt, the first thing to do is find out if you qualify for utility bill assistance. The second thing to do is call Credit Canada Debt Solutions at 1-800-267-2272 and book an appointment or click here to complete an Online Debt Assessment.