Get Ready for Winter Temperatures and Rising Natural Gas Prices

Before we know it, Old Man Winter will bring colder temperatures our way. The cold temperatures we experience during the winter can bring higher utility bills. That’s because outdoor temperatures drive energy usage more than any other single factor. As temperatures drop, we use more electricity or natural gas to stay warm, and that causes higher utility bills. Usage varies due to a number of factors, but on average, the heating system uses 60% of the home’s energy.

On top of expected higher usage, we have seen natural gas prices double in the past year. High global demand for gas and low supplies have pushed gas prices to a 7-year high and that is predicted to go even higher this winter. GUC works year-round to strategically purchase natural gas at favorable rates to avoid having to raise the price we charge our customers. We have agreements in place to purchase large quantities of gas at a discount. Our staff also actively monitors the markets to purchase gas when the price is low, and not over-buy when gas is not needed.

GUC does not profit from fluctuations in gas costs. The goal of our purchasing strategy is to keep rates as stable and competitive as possible, however we must periodically adjust our rates when the price we pay goes up. This winter, we are anticipating rate adjustments that will translate into natural gas bills that are roughly $7.00 higher per month for natural gas customers, based on typical winter usage. Even with that, our prices are still below the median of those we compare ourselves to.

If temperatures are really cold, like last winter or three winters ago, then your usage will likely be much higher than normal, too.

Reduce the Impact of Winter’s Bite
While none of us can control the weather, there are steps you can take to reduce energy usage as much as possible during the cold winter months. We encourage customers to:

· Keep air filters clean (usually change them monthly), and make sure your heating system is operating efficiently.

· Set your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature. If you have an electric heat pump, set the thermostat at 68 degrees or lower and “forget it.” For other forms of heat, set the thermostat at 68 degrees (or lower), but if you’re gone for several hours or more, set it at 55 degrees, or even lower (unless pipes are in danger of freezing) while you’re away.

· Make sure your home is well-insulated.

· Weather strip or caulk windows and doors to seal small cracks.

· Insulate your water heater and set the temperature at 120 degrees.

Also,

· Insulate exposed water pipes to reduce the chance of freezing, which can cause a pipe to burst and then leak.

· Disconnect water hoses from outdoor spigots.

· Winterize irrigation systems.

Energy Services
GUC’s Energy Services Office has many tips to help you save money. If you are interested, they can also come to your home or business to conduct an energy audit at no cost to you. Just call them at 252-551-1521 to schedule your energy audit or to simply ask them questions about how to save on your utility bills.