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Higher Natural Gas Bills Expected after Cold Weather in Arkansas

Utility officials say customers could see an increase of two to three times this month compared to last month.
HOUSTON, TX (News release) - CenterPoint Energy is seeing higher consumption by natural gas customers as a result of the recent cold weather. Customers should expect that the bills they receive in December could be two to three times higher compared to the bill they received in November because of increased usage due to heating needs.  

“Temperatures have been almost 50 percent colder than last year at this same time according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA; based on bills mailed this week, an average residential customer's bill could be two to three times higher than last month when temperatures were mild, and very little heating usage occurred,” said Rick Zapalac, senior vice president of Gas Operations for CenterPoint Energy. Actual bills will vary depending on how much natural gas individual customers consume based on the size and efficiency of their home, efficiency of their appliances, and at what temperature they set their thermostat.

“This increase is based solely on higher usage and not on increases in the cost of natural gas, which remains a great energy value. Our cost for natural gas, which is passed on to our customers with no mark-up or profit, is essentially the same as last year,” Zapalac added. “Consumers can manage higher natural gas bills by lowering their consumption, making their home more energy efficient and enrolling in our Average Monthly Billing program to spread costs more evenly throughout the year.” 

CenterPoint Energy also recommends the following tips: 

Furnace
:
  • A furnace is the largest natural gas consumer, and typically makes up about 47 percent of your natural gas bill.
  • Lower your thermostat to 68 degrees when you’re home and 65 degrees when you’re not. By lowering your thermostat 10 – 15 percent for eight hours a day, you can save up to 10 percent a year on your heating costs. Installing a programmable thermostat can help you automatically control your heat usage. Add on extra layers of clothing to keep warm.
  • Change your air filters monthly. A dirty filter restricts airflow and can increase the operating cost of your furnace by as much as 10 percent. A good reminder is to change the filter each time you receive your natural gas bill. 
Water heater:
  • The water heater is the second-largest gas consuming appliance typically making up about 43 percent of your bill.
  • Set the water heater temperature at 120 degrees and wrap water heater pipes. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees from 140 degrees and insulating your pipes can save you up to 10 percent on your water heating costs. 
Other appliances:
  • Although they consume less natural gas, you can still maximize their efficiency.
  • Run your washing machine, dishwasher and gas dryer only with full loads. 
Make your home more airtight and keep cold air outside:
  • Seal leaks around doors, windows and other openings such as pipes or ducts, with caulk or weather-stripping. The most common places where air escapes in homes are floors, walls, ceilings, ducts, fireplaces, plumbing penetrations, doors, windows, fans, vents, and electrical outlets. 
  • If it has been a while, consider adding more insulation in your attic.
  • On sunny days, open draperies and blinds to let the sun’s warmth in. Close them at night to insulate against the cold air outside. 
Take advantage of CenterPoint Energy’s energy efficiency programs - CenterPoint Energy’s energy saving programs include rebates for high-efficiency natural gas heating and water heating equipment and low flow devices, such as showerheads, spray valves and faucet aerators. To learn more about these money saving energy efficiency programs visit CenterPointEnergy.com/Rebates.

If a customer thinks they’ll have difficulty paying their natural gas bill, they should contact CenterPoint Energy at the number listed on their bill as soon as possible to discuss payment arrangements. 

Click here for more information on how to save energy and money.

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