Moderate Natural Gas Costs to Soften Impact of Colder Winter
November 6, 2012
Piedmont Natural Gas Company (PNG) recently issued its annual forecast for winter heating bills saying that while monthly natural gas use by residential customers is likely to climb during the upcoming November through March winter period, projected natural gas costs remain moderate and should help blunt the impact of colder temperatures on monthly bills. Last year, winter temperatures were significantly warmer than normal, averaging approximately 21 percent warmer than normal in North Carolina. With a possible return to colder, more normal winter temperatures, customers are more likely to increase their natural gas consumption and with it, see higher monthly natural gas bills.
Natural Gas Costs Significantly Lower Since 2008
Even with the prospect for colder winter temperatures this year, PNG said the cost of natural gas remains low relative to just a few years ago. While we expect that our customers will see higher monthly bills this winter, natural gas costs remain significantly lower than they were back in 2008 when domestic natural gas supplies were just beginning to increase as a result of the discovery and production of onshore shale natural gas. In fact, we believe our residential customers will pay, on average, $150 - $225 less this winter than they did four years ago. This translates into significant savings and energy value for our customers.
For customers who want to learn more about energy savings tips, PNG maintains a special section on its website devoted to educating customers about their home's energy usage. Visiting www.piedmontng.com could help customers better manage the natural gas they use this winter along with their monthly bills, which we believe could fluctuate anywhere from $6 to $26 more per month during the winter period as a result of normal, colder winter temperatures compared to those seen last year.
There are many steps that customers can take to get a better handle on their energy consumption. For example, turning your thermostat down several degrees, saves energy, costs nothing, and are very simple to do. Additionally, making sure windows and doors are properly sealed only cost a few dollars and are easy to implement. Still other steps, like investing in a programmable thermostat or purchasing higher efficiency natural gas equipment and appliances, may cost a bit more upfront but will save the customer both energy and money over the life of the equipment.
Piedmont's "Share the Warmth" Program Assists Others in the Community
PNG noted in its winter forecast that many individuals and families within the communities served by the Company are still facing significant economic hardship. We recognize that many of our customers continue to face difficult financial choices and economic challenges. One of the ways we can assist our neighbors who need help is by enrolling in Piedmont's Share the Warmth Round Up Program where we can sign up to have our monthly natural gas bills rounded up to the nearest dollar. The amount rounded up goes to provide emergency energy assistance funds to individuals and families within the communities Piedmont serves, regardless of what energy is used in the home or what time of year the need arises.
For those customers who want to learn more about the Share the Warmth Round Up Program or to enroll in the program, they are encouraged to visit Piedmont's website at www.piedmontng.com.
Author: Jaz Tunnell, Government Relations Manager, Piedmont Natural Gas Company