You heard it on the news. It’s no surprise that natural gas prices across the country are higher this winter. Now is the time to prepare to minimize the effect of these price increases. You may need to adjust your budget, but you definitely need to take steps to lower your heating bills.
First, let me explain why this happens. There are two components that make up a natural gas bill. One is the base rate, which covers all the expenses the utility incurs to provide the service, except for the cost it pays to obtain the gas itself. The other is known as the Purchased Gas Adjustment (PGA), which is only the cost the utility pays to obtain natural gas, and does not include any profit to the company.
The PSC does not regulate the price of natural gas – this price is determined by competitive markets.
Each year, gas utilities inform the PSC of the amount they expect to pay their gas suppliers from November 1 to October 30 of the following year.
Our analysts review utility gas purchasing practices, review the reasonableness of the rates charged, and ensure that each utility has done everything possible to ensure reliable gas supply at the lowest possible price.
If the actual price turns out to be higher or lower than the estimate, the utility must include an adjustment the following year.
There are steps you can take to offset the cost of higher heating bills. Start by making sure your home is well insulated. Cover all air leaks with weather protection – pay particular attention to the attic. Use weather stripping and caulk around all exterior windows and doors to seal air leaks. A door snake is a quick fix for drafty door sills. Hang thick, insulated curtains over windows and keep them closed. Finally, plug the chimney when not in use.
You may also consider contacting your utility about a budget billing plan, based on your average usage and expected energy prices for the coming year, to avoid extremely high utility bills. during the heating months. Some utilities offer a fixed monthly amount and adjust your plan with an annual adjustment bill. Other companies make more frequent adjustments. The specifics vary from company to company, but the end result for the customer is a stable invoice amount throughout the year.
These simple steps will keep you and your budget more comfortable this winter.