Utility companies predict increase in gas bills this winter

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INDIANAPOLIS — Multiple Indiana utility companies have indicated an increase in natural gas prices, leading to an increase in bills for the winter.

According to Citizens Energy Group, the cost of natural gas has doubled from what it was last fall. Citizens, according to a press release, is working to reduce the impact on their customers’ bills as much as possible, but there will still be an increase. Last year, the average bill for the season was $423, however, this year it’s anticipated to be closer to $474.

“While we are projecting a small increase in gas bills, we know many customers are still struggling financially due to the ongoing economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why we are increasing our efforts to identify and assist customers in need through our Warm Heart Warm Home Foundation and other sources,” said Citizens President and CEO Jeffrey Harrison.

Citizens also shared some tips to conserve energy, which would in turn reduce the cost of utility bills.

  • Replacing your furnace filter once a month helps the furnace work more efficiently.
  • A 10-degree reduction for an eight hour period each day will reduce your heating bill by approximately 10 percent.
  • A 10-degree reduction in water temperature saves approximately five percent on energy costs.

For CenterPoint Energy, customers can expect a similar increase in costs. Last year, prices were $88 a month for a five-month period, while this year it’s expected to be closer to $130 a month. In their press release, they also made a point to mention this would be assuming normal winter weather.

“In the event we experience normal winter weather this heating season, coupled with a significant increase in natural gas prices, customers should expect an increase in their bills,” said Richard Leger, vice president of natural gas distribution. “Even with higher natural gas prices this winter heating season, bills should still remain lower than customers experienced in the late 2000s when prices for natural gas were at record levels nationwide.”

CenterPoint had their costs incurred and approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, as natural gas is a commodity that is not allowed to be sold for profit. The prices fluctuate due to supply and demand pressures.

In order to help assist families that would need help paying utility bills during the pandemic, additional services were listed for eligible customers, such as Share the Warmth.

“We are here to assist our customers who are experiencing financial hardship and encourage them to make contact for options to help manage costs,” Leger said. “Local community action agencies can further provide assistance and customers should call today and apply for financial and/or home weatherization assistance if needed.”

Other ways to help pay for utility bills through the pandemic winter months include the Indiana Energy Assistance Program (AEP). Those who apply and qualify for AEP will automatically be enrolled in the Universal Service Program (USP) as well.

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