We are getting industry information predicting that utility costs will be higher for the upcoming winter season. The utility wholesale markets are based upon supply and demand – with limited supplies, prices go up. Demand for natural gas has been high both domestically and internationally. Additionally, gas supplies are down from last year. The market price of natural gas last winter was roughly $2.82 per million British Thermal Unit (BTU). Current forecasts show winter prices around $4.80 per million BTU. This gas cost increase means an average homeowner’s monthly bill might double. Electricity could also have supply and demand issues resulting in high prices and pleas for conservation. Less natural gas could be available to generate electricity. Extreme, prolonged winter weather could make the situation even worse. To maintain grid reliability, alerts for reducing electric consumption could occur if demand outpaces supply.
Heating has the biggest impact on winter utility bills for homeowners and small businesses, so try reducing this part of your consumption first. Here are some ways that homeowners can prepare for the winter season:
LOW-COST ways to save energy year-round:
~Replace the heating system’s filter every three months or when dirty.
~Seal air leaks around windows and doors by replacing worn-out materials or by using weather stripping or caulk.
~Adding insulation is one of the lowest cost energy efficiency improvements with one of the highest returns on an investment. Your attic should have 16-19 inches of insulation.
~If possible, install a smart thermostat to make automatic adjustments when you are gone.
FREE ways to save on heating bills:
~Wear layers of clothing and use extra blankets.
~Set thermostat settings at 68 degrees or as low as possible while home.
~Limit the use of natural gas fireplaces.
~Lock doors and windows for a better seal. For drafty windows, close storm windows and consider
~keeping window shades closed at night for extra insulation.
~Don’t block heating system air vents with furniture, curtains, or rugs.
~Close fireplace damper when not in use.
~Roll up a towel to put at the bottom of a leaky door to keep drafts at bay.
Click the links below for a list of free and low cost ways to help you save on your energy bills this winter.