Company offers energy saving tips to help customers prepare for colder weather
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – National Grid’s winter heating season forecast calls for its upstate New York customers to see natural gas and electricity bills that are lower than last year, assuming a typical winter. The lower bills are based on forecasted decreases in wholesale supply prices during the Nov. 1 through March 31 winter heating season.
“Even with a forecast of lower bills, we remind customers to use energy wisely and take advantage of our various energy efficiency programs,” said John Bruckner, National Grid’s New York president. “Simple steps taken now – like changing furnace filters, increasing insulation, sealing windows and doors and using LED light bulbs – can help control energy costs this winter and all year around.”
Residential Natural Gas Forecast
The company forecasts total residential natural gas bills from Nov.1 through March 31 to be approximately $507, or about $31 (5.8 percent) less than the typical upstate winter, based on an average use of 713 therms.
Residential Electric Forecast
Compared to last winter, National Grid is forecasting total monthly residential electricity bills to be approximately $6 to $8 lower (6.9 to 8.8 percent) this winter heating season, depending on geographic region, based on average monthly use of 600 kilowatt-hours.
Because energy costs and usage are impacted by weather conditions, the company reminds customers that forecasted figures are approximate. In addition to weather, factors that determine actual costs are wholesale energy supply prices and energy consumption, both of which can be dramatically impacted by severely cold or unusually warm temperatures.
National Grid manages the energy supply portfolio purchased on behalf of customers by using a variety of electricity and natural gas hedging strategies to help offset market price volatility. These strategies include balancing long-term and short-term supply contracts and purchasing natural gas in the summer, when it is less expensive, and storing it for winter use. Customers who purchase their energy supply from an energy services company, or ESCo, will pay supply prices agreed to in their contract with that supplier.
Energy bills are a combination of supply prices and delivery prices, which are set by regulation. Overall, assuming equal usage, total energy bills for most consumers have trended downward over the last decade.
Managing bills through energy efficiency
National Grid provides a long list of easy-to-implement efficiency tips on its energy efficiency web page. Here are a few examples:
- Replace five incandescent lights with ENERGY STAR® light bulbs and save $9 a month.
- Turn off lights, appliances, TVs, stereos, and computers when not in use, and save approximately $9 a month.
- Unplug your electric space heater or hot tub and save $41 a month.
- Recycle your second, older refrigerator and you can save $23 a month.
- Washing your clothes in cold water can save you $9 per month.
- Repair leaky faucets and save $6 per month.
- Unplug electronics with remote control or “instant on” features and save $4 a month. An advanced power strip will do the work for you.
- Install a programmable thermostat that lowers the setting at night and when no one is home, and save $15 a month.
- Caulk, weather-strip around windows and doors to keep warm air in and save $13 a month.
- When buying new appliances, always choose ENERGY STAR® and save $11-$24 a month for the life of the appliance.
The company’s website also offers winter safety tips, including carbon monoxide precautions. In addition, the National Grid Marketplace is a one-stop shop for energy efficient products, and site visitors can learn about rebates on Wi-Fi thermostats, lighting, water saving products, and more. Meanwhile, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority provides tips and programs on its site.
National Grid also provides various billing options for customers, including the Budget Billing Plan that spreads payments out more evenly throughout a year and various payment options for customers who may have difficulty paying their bills.
Households receiving public assistance, supplemental security income, food stamps or other public assistance or the elderly may qualify for the federal Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides financial aid to income-eligible participants. Customers eligible for HEAP also will qualify for National Grid’s Energy Affordability Program