Higher natural gas commodity costs expected to increase heating bills this winter season

Natural gas market prices have increased significantly from this time last year. The Department of Energy estimates people who use natural gas to heat their homes may pay as much as 30 percent more this year. The increase is attributable to a variety of factors including higher domestic gas demand for electric power generation and increased export of U.S.-produced natural gas. ORUD is alerting customers to prepare for higher natural gas bills this winter season.

To help keep costs low, ORUD purchases natural gas at the lowest possible price and then passes this cost directly to customers. In addition, ORUD uses underground storage to take advantage of lower commodity costs by purchasing natural gas in the summer months (when commodity prices are traditionally lower) to withdraw later in the season and offset higher winter costs.

There are several ways you can conserve and save money by using energy conservation tips, tools, and assistance programs to help prepare for higher winter bills. Now is a good time to make sure your household is prepared before cold weather hits!

  • Set your thermostat at 68° or lower when you’re home. Every degree below 68° can save four percent on your heating bills.
  • Wear layered clothing and thick socks to keep warm; then set your thermostat even lower.
  • At bedtime, lower your thermostat and add extra blankets.
  • Lower the setting on your thermostat when leaving your home for four hours or more.
  • Close garage doors, cover foundation vents, and close off vents and doors to seldom-used rooms.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed at night and on cloudy days; open curtains on sunny days for warmth.
  • Adjust your water heater temperature to 120° or “warm.” It still provides hot water and avoids scalding. You can also lower it when it’s not in use.
  • Add more insulation in your attic.

ORUD also offers a Levelized Billing option to help stabilize spikes in your monthly natural gas bill amount. Spreading out monthly costs more evenly helps customers ease bill fluctuations throughout the year. You will be able to sign up for Levelized Billing at any point during the year, as long as you have 12 months of usage history at your address.

For those customers experiencing financial hardship and requiring help with energy costs, we encourage them to contact one of our customer service representatives and discuss available energy assistance programs. One of these programs that ORUD sponsors is ADFAC’s Project SAFE (Special Assistance Fund for Energy). This program is used to help customers with energy emergencies, regardless of the type of energy used.