All posts by Amanda Gamby

Tips for Reducing Utility Bills During Colder Months

City Offers Tips for Reducing Utility Bills During Colder Months

Colder temperatures can lead to an increase in your utility bill.  Whether heating your home with electric or gas, your appliances will be working overtime to keep your residence warm when temperatures drop.  To avoid “sticker shock” on next month’s utility bill, limit the use of space heaters when possible.  Also, keep your thermostat at a consistent temperature and resist the urge to turn it up.  Add a layer of clothing or an extra blanket instead.

An energy audit can be a great way to identify areas in your home where insulation and other energy saving features can be applied.  In the short term, you can seal air leaks, where you feel cold drafts, by installing DIY plastic insulation kits on windows and by placing draft stoppers along the base of doors.

Please also consider:

Utility Bill Review

First, look closely at the utility bill to determine where the increase has occurred.  The utility bill contains the amount owed for electric, water, sewer, and the refuse/recycling fee.  In most cases, the increase in charges is a result of a higher usage in electricity or water.  During extremely cold periods in the winter months, drafty windows, poor insulation, and space heater usage can result in higher electric usage.  Additionally, some homes use all electric for winter heating which will increase electric usage during colder months.

Utility Insight Program

The Utility Insight program can help determine which utility is causing the excess usage.  Customers can review a current bill summary with usages broken down by electric, water and sewer.  The program allows a customer to view their daily usage, review their monthly billing and usage history, and provides a projection of their next bill.  Electric or water usage can be compared with temperature data to see how usage changes daily or monthly.  The data is displayed in an easy to read chart or table format and can be downloaded by the customer.

After creating a Utility Insight account, customers can complete a series of questions about their home that can help them understand their energy and water usage. Answers are used to provide better recommendations for reducing usage and saving money.  A personal savings plan can be created based off the completed profile & customized recommendations.  Users can then keep track of projects, create a to-do list of the energy and water saving actions they plan to do, mark off which tasks they’ve already completed, and see estimates of how much their efforts can save.  To create an account, visit www.bgohio.org.

Efficiency Smart Program

Efficiency Smart helps customers save on their electric bills and make their homes more comfortable. Efficiency Smart offers discounts and rebates for the purchase of qualifying energy-efficient products as well as advice on how residents can reduce their electric bills. Residents have access to free energy-efficiency guidance specific to their home, an online home energy assessment tool to identify ways to save energy in their home, and an electric usage monitor to measure how much energy their household items use. For a complete list of services available through Efficiency Smart, visit www.efficiencysmart.org/bowling-green-ohio or call 877-889-3777.

Columbia Gas Home Energy Audit

Columbia Gas customers, residing in Bowling Green, are eligible for a Home Energy Audit at a discounted rate.  A Certified Home Energy Auditor will evaluate the home, and customers will receive free energy saving products, a safety check of their furnace, an infrared scan to detect existing insulation levels, and a personalized energy report.  After the audit, the customer will receive rebates based on the recommendations.  Customers pay a flat $300 for all recommended improvements (such as attic insulation, wall insulation, and air sealing) installed by a participating program contractor.  To schedule an appointment, call 1-877-644-6674 or visit www.columbiagasohio.com/everyroommatters.  Homes that are not owner occupied will require owner permission to receive improvements.

Budget Payment Plan

The City offers a budget payment plan option.  The budget amount is calculated based on the total 12 months of utility bills divided by 12 months to arrive at a monthly budget payment.  Budget amounts are recalculated semi-annually.

Muni-Pal & Other Assistance

Muni-Pal is a program in cooperation with the Salvation Army to help local citizens.  When you donate to Muni-Pal, the money goes directly to the Salvation Army office in Bowling Green to help local citizens in need of assistance to pay their utility bill.  The money does not leave Bowling Green and is used solely to help Bowling Green customers. You can donate a onetime contribution, or an additional charge can be placed on your monthly bill.  Residents who need assistance paying their bill should contact the Salvation Army at 419-352-5918.

In addition to the Muni-Pal program administered by the Salvation Army, residents may be eligible for assistance through the Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLCAP).  In response to COVID-19, state and federal dollars for assistance with utility bills are being coordinated by the GLCAP.  Residents may begin their application by calling 1-800-775-9767.  Wood County Area Ministries may also be able to help and can be reached at 419-352-1322.  When contacting these agencies, residents are encouraged to leave a message and a representative will return their call.

Residents are encouraged to contact the Utilities Business Office at   or call 419-354-6252 with any questions.  The City can help residents analyze their bill, work through possible causes of high usage, and help answer questions about the Utility Insights, Efficiency Smart, Budget Payment Plan, and Muni-Pal programs.

Wood County announces plans for start of Phase 1B of COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Vaccine opportunities will be posted at Vaccine.WoodCountyHealth.org

Wood County has announced its plans for beginning to vaccinate people in Ohio’s Phase 1B, which begins next week with those age 80 and older.

COVID-19 vaccines continue to be a scarce resource across the United States, and it will take time to provide vaccines to everyone who wants to receive them. For the first week of Tier 1B, five registered providers in Wood County will receive a combined 1,200 doses.

Wood County Health Department and its partners released a video update Thursday explaining the process by which people can begin to receive vaccines as Phase 1B begins on Tuesday, Jan. 19. The video, which also features representatives of the Wood County Emergency Management Agency, Wood County Committee on Aging, and Wood County Hospital, is available at www.WoodCountyHealth.org and on YouTube: https://youtu.be/0obwBAL5u6E

“Together, we are well-equipped to lead this effort in our community,” said Jeff Klein, director of the Wood County Emergency Management Agency.

Each week, the required age to be eligible to receive vaccines will be reduced by five years. This means that during the week of Jan. 25, people 75 and older will become eligible, along with people who have severe congenital or developmental disorders. On the week of Feb. 1, people age 70 or older are eligible, as are employees of K-12 schools that commit to in-person or hybrid education. On the week of Feb. 8, people 65 and older become eligible.

“While we know that many people in our community are eager to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, we must be patient while demand for the vaccine remains higher than the available supply,” said Denise Niese, Executive Director for the Wood County Committee on Aging. “As vaccine supply increases, we will be able to vaccinate more of those in Phase 1B, and eventually, all Ohioans who choose to be vaccinated.”

When a new age group becomes eligible, vaccinations may not be complete for the previous age group. It may take a long time to provide vaccines to everyone who wants them, given the limited doses that are currently available.

The Wood County Health Department has created a website that includes updated information on vaccine providers in Wood County that have available appointments. This website, Vaccine.WoodCountyHealth.org, will be a “one-stop shop” for information about all the providers who are distributing vaccines in the community. It can also be accessed by going to www.WoodCountyHealth.org and clicking on COVID-19 Vaccines.

This website will include each vaccine provider and a point of contact for scheduling vaccine appointments to be vaccinated. The list will be updated as providers receive additional doses each week, and also when the Health Department is notified that providers no longer have appointments available.

For vaccines administered by the Wood County Health Department, a mobile application and website called ArmorVax will be used for registration. Details about this can be found at Vaccine.WoodCountyHealth.org. Alternatively, if you would like to speak to someone to schedule an appointment, you can call 419-352-8402 and choose option 1. During the initial launch, the Health Department is partnering with the Wood County Committee on Aging and 2-1-1, who are providing support for vaccination scheduling.

Vaccine appointments will likely be reserved quickly, and people may need to keep checking back. Each provider may handle scheduling differently, so go to Vaccine.WoodCountyHealth.org to learn more about those details.

“Moving into Phase 1B will provide an opportunity to protect our most vulnerable and to help keep kids in school,” said Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Robison. “We are committed to administering every dose provided to Wood County every week, both now, when supply is limited, and later when more doses are available.”

Wood County has no control over vaccine shipment quantities and delivery dates. The county has and will continue to be committed to getting vaccines out as quickly as possible. There is no stockpiling of doses.

Both public and private K-12 schools are working with the Wood County Health Department to develop their vaccination plans. Each school district may take different approaches, based on their specific needs. Schools will be releasing details directly to their eligible staff.

COVID-19 vaccines were widely tested to make sure they meet safety standards. Ohio has administered over 320,000 doses so far, and Wood County in total has had about 4,500 people receive their first dose. Possible vaccine reactions include fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. Severe reactions are rare and are reported for investigation. While the vaccine is a great tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, everyone must continue to wear masks, maintain social distance and follow all public health guidance to obtain the best protection.

“Even after you have been vaccinated, you should continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing. The vaccine will protect you from getting ill from COVID-19; however, not enough is known about whether or not you can still carry the virus and spread it to others,” said Dr. Michael Lemon, Chief Medical Officer of Wood County Hospital.

The mission of the Wood County Health Department is to prevent disease, promote healthy lifestyles and protect the health of everyone in Wood County. Our Community Health Center provides comprehensive medical services for men, women and children. We welcome all patients, including uninsured or underinsured clients, regardless of their ability to pay, and we accept most third-party insurance. For more information, visit www.WoodCountyHealth.org.

Christmas Tree Recycling Begins Monday, January 4th

For locations served by city refuse & recycling collection, CHRISTMAS TREES will be collected through a special one week collection in January.

This year’s collection will begin on Monday, January 4th.  Collection is not connected to your regular refuse/recycling schedule.

Please follow the guidelines below:

  • Trees should be placed curbside by 7:00 AM the Monday of the scheduled collection week.
  • Please remove all decorations, metal nails, lights and tree stands.
  • Trees should not be left in bags.

Once crews complete a street, they will not return.  Christmas trees are taken to the Yard Waste Recycling Facility operated by the County and ground into mulch in the spring.

Final Leaf Collection Begins on December 7

The final round of leaf collection will begin on Monday, December 7th in Bowling Green.  Leaf collection is available for addresses that are eligible for City refuse/recycling collection and is not connected to the regular refuse/recycling collection schedule.

Crews will begin working in Ward 3.  When pickup in Ward 3 is completed, crews will then move thru Ward 4, Ward 1 and Ward 2. A map has been posted to the City’s website (www.bgohio.org) allowing residents to follow crews as they move through the City.

NOTE:  This will be the final leaf collection for 2020.  Once the crews leave a street, they will not return.

Bowling Green residents may also take leaves to the drop-off site located behind the Public Works garage on Tarragon Drive (off East Poe Road).  Note that brush and branches are not accepted at the drop-off site.

Residents may also want to consider using a recycling mower to return shredded leaves to their yards.  Grass clippings and finely chopped leaves add vital nutrients and organic matter to the lawn, thus improving lawn health.

Leaf Collection Map Leaf Collection Guidelines

 

Veterans Day Holiday – Refuse/Recycling Schedule

In observance of the Veterans Day holiday, all non-24 hour City facilities will be closed on Wednesday, November 11.

As a result, the following collection schedule will occur for refuse and recycling next week:

Monday’s route will be collected on Monday.
Tuesday’s route will be collected on Tuesday.
Wednesday’s route will be collected on Thursday.
Thursday’s route will be collected on Friday.

Questions about this schedule may be directed to Public Works at 419-354-6227.

Never miss a “trash day” again! Download the Recycle Coach App to receive a custom calendar and reminder notifications for special collections.

Leaf Collection Begins November 9th

The City of Bowling Green will begin collecting leaves during the week of November 9.  Leaf collection is available for addresses that are eligible for refuse/recycling collection and is not connected to the regular refuse/recycling collection schedule.  A map will be posted to the City’s website allowing residents to follow crews as they move through the City.

The primary method the City uses for collection of leaves is the “Grab and Go” method which utilizes a tractor with a rake on the back of it.  The tractor will drive through the right-of-way loosely raking the leaves into the street for collection.  This method is used so that crews can efficiently work their way through the city, minimizing fuel consumption and maximizing the amount of time the crews have to collect the leaves.  This method may look messy, but re-rake your leaves, add more to the pile and crews will be back for another round.  The second (and final) round will be more thorough and will be announced after the Thanksgiving Holiday.

If you choose to use this method, please follow these guidelines:

  • Leaves should be placed loose (not in bags) at the curbside.
  • Do not rake leaves into the street.  This blocks street drainage during rain events.  Also, parked cars with warm exhaust systems are at risk of catching fire when parked over dry leaves.  Children also tend to play in leaves making this a dangerous situation.
  • Do not put brush or branches with the leaves as it will not be collected.

Please note:

Residents may also take Garden/Yard Waste/Grass/Leaves to the City Yard Waste drop-off.  It is open daily from 8am-8pm. The site is located behind the Public Works garage on Tarragon Drive (off E. Poe Road). This site does NOT accept brush (anything with a bark covering).

The best thing residents can do with their leaves is leave them on their property. Fall leaves are a valuable resource that most homeowners let go to waste by having them blown or raked into piles curbside, left for City pickup. Leaf collection, hauling, and disposal are a huge annual cost to our City!  In addition, the nutrients in the leaves are lost instead of being returned to nourish the soil and the grass or plants that grow on your property.

  • Shred them with a lawn mower and leave them in place on your lawn
  • Compost them in a pile or container (with or without shredding)
  • Shred them and use them as mulch on your borders and flowerbeds

The City’s leaves are taken to the Wood County Landfill’s Yard Waste Recycling area, where they are composted and reused.

Questions about this year’s leaf collection may be directed to the Public Works Department by calling 419-354-6227.

Health Department Offers Tips for Halloween

Here are some suggestions from the Wood County Health Department for enjoying a safe Halloween:

TRICK-OR-TREATING

Families should approach trick-or-treat differently this year in order to reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

  • Avoid having children select their own treats from a bowl or common container.
  • Limit the number of houses you visit and ask your children to stay as far as possible from anyone you don’t live with. Celebrate Halloween in your own community, and don’t visit other areas.
  • Wipe off candy wrappers with sanitizing wipes, and allow children to eat only factory-wrapped treats.  Avoid homemade treats made by strangers.
  • If your child is at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19, contact your doctor before allowing participation in Halloween activities.  Decorating your home and hiding treats can be a fun alternative to trick-or-treating.
  • A costume mask is not a safe substitute for a cloth mask.  A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.
  • Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it could become hard to breathe.  Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

HOSTING TRICK-OR-TREATERS

If you will host trick-or-treaters at your house, take steps to make it safer:

    • Make it contactless.  Place treats or individual goodie bags on your porch, steps or a table in the driveway, or hang treats from a wall or fence.
    • Greet trick-or-treaters from behind a storm door or window.
    • Use creative decorations to create a buffer on your porch.

HOSTING A HALLOWEEN PARTY

Party hosts, if you’re looking to celebrate this season, follow these tips for a safer event:

    • Do not hold large, in-person Halloween parties.  Instead have smaller parties to limit your gathering to no more than 10 people, preferably outside or in larger indoor spaces with ventilation.  If you decide to have several parties, be sure to clean and sanitize between groups.
    • If you will have food, it’s safer to have prepackaged single-serving food and drinks and disposable utensils. Consider having guests bring their own food and beverages.
    • Practice social distancing and offer plenty of hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid activities such as bobbing for apples that foster the spread of infection.

ATTENDING A HALLOWEEN GATHERING

Going to a Halloween gathering? Here are some tips to make it safer:

  • Don’t go if you feel sick at all.  Be sure to check your temperature before you leave the house and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Avoid parties that will have more than 10 people.
  • Think about bringing your own food or drink.  Avoid potluck or family-style meals.
Wood County Health Department Halloween Guidance Flyer Ohio Department of Health Halloween Guidance

West Wooster Lane Closure – October 19

The Water Distribution and Wastewater Collection Division will be closing the eastbound lane of West Wooster Street at Martindale on Monday, October 19.  Flaggers will be present on each end of the closure directing traffic.  The north end of Martindale will also be closed at Wooster for this work.  Access to the Peace Lutheran Church will be maintained.  This work is expected to last one day.

The closure is required to perform a water line tie in.  This timeline is dependent upon progress of work and weather.

BG Celebrates Public Power Week, Oct. 4-10

Bowling Green is celebrating Public Power Week (#PublicPowerWeek), Oct. 4-10, along with more than 2,000 other community-owned, not-for-profit electric utilities that collectively provide electricity to 49 million Americans.

“Public power puts the people of Bowling Green first, and Public Power Week gives us the chance to emphasize the advantages of locally grown, locally owned power to our citizens,” said Brian O’Connell, Utilities Director.  “Our service is reliable and safe and we take pride in serving our friends and neighbors,” said O’Connell.

Since the 1940’s, Bowling Green has owned and operated the Electric Distribution and Transmission System in and around the City. As a public power community, decisions are governed by the local Board of Public Utilities and City Council.  In the early 2000’s the City sought to reduce exposure to electric market volatility and diversify its power supply portfolio. There was also interest in increasing the percentage of renewable energy resources in its power supply portfolio.

As a member of American Municipal Power (AMP), Bowling Green is one of 135 municipal members who have partnered together to expand our ability to provide a reliable, sustainable, and cost competitive electric system for the benefit of our customers. This membership has allowed Bowling Green to build renewable energy projects and provide the Efficiency Smart program and the EcoSmart Choice program.

The Bowling Green community has supported these efforts for clean energy and environmental stewardship.  In a typical year, every Bowling Green electric customer can expect to receive up to 40% of their electric energy from renewable resources which exceeds State and National averages.

Today, Bowling Green Municipal Utilities serves 12,826 residential customers and 1,870 commercial and industrial customers.

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Public Power Week is an annual national event coordinated by the American Public Power Association in Washington, D.C. The American Public Power Association is the voice of not-for-profit, community-owned utilities that power 2,000 towns and cities nationwide. The Association represents public power before the federal government to protect the interests of the more than 49 million people that public power utilities serve, and the 93,000 people they employ. It advocates and advises on electricity policy, technology, trends, training, and operations. Its members strengthen their communities by providing superior service, engaging citizens, and instilling pride in community-owned power. More at www.PublicPower.org.  

Health Department Encourages Residents to get Flu Vaccine

The Wood County Health Department encourages residents to get a flu vaccine.

Getting a flu vaccine is a safe step people can take to prepare themselves and their family for any flu season, but is more important this year.

  • COVID-19 has made this year a challenge for everyone. You can reduce the chances of you or your family having to have to deal with flu this year by getting your flu shot now.
  • When you take steps to prevent getting the flu, it makes you less likely to have symptoms also common for COVID-19 that could keep you at home waiting for test results.
  • When the COVID-19 vaccine arrives, public health and health care professionals are going to be busy getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible. Getting your flu vaccine by the end of October is one way to can help us get ready.
  • Set aside time in your busy schedule for your flu vaccine now so you are prepared when the COVID-19 vaccine is ready.
  • Everyone, 6 months and older, is encouraged to get a yearly flu vaccine as it is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu.
  • Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19; however, flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important not only to reduce risk from the flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources.