Managers at Centerpoint Energy say they are seeing a higher consumption by natural gas customers because of a very cold winter season.
So that's why managers want customers to know their bills this month could be 40 percent higher compared to last month.
Actual bills will vary from person to person.
“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,” said Walter Bryant, vice president of Gas Operations in Arkansas.
The company says customers should consider enrolling in its 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 consuming appliance.
- Set your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees. If possible set it at 65 degrees when you are home and 60 degrees when you are away from home. Lowering your thermostat can help you save on your annual 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.
- 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 help you save on your water heating costs.
- Other appliances: Although they consume less natural gas, you can still maximize their efficiency.
- Run your washing machine, dish washer 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 orducts, 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.
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