Natural Gas Costs Rising, But There Are Ways To Save
It could be a long, expensive fall and winter for the estimated 43-percent of Delaware households who heat with natural gas.
Prices have spiked in the past six months, but are up more than 30-percent since the end of August. Increased demand in the US and a continuing energy crisis in Europe are the main reasons for the increase.
The Delaware Public Advocate, Andrew Slater, said utilities face higher costs too, and are considering passing them along to customers. He said homeowners can take several steps to reduce energy use around the home.
Also, the LIHEAP program is available for lower-income people who need assistance with their utility bills.
“Due to the increase in wholesale natural gas prices, end-use customers will see an increase during the winter months,” Slater said. “However, there are ways to reduce your usage and keep utility bills reasonable. Energy utility bills are some of the only bills where amount owed is dependent on usage.”
The Delaware Public Advocate provided additional guidance below:
Chesapeake Utilities recently filed changes to its Gas Sales Rate (GSR), a passthrough cost to customers, to reflect the higher natural gas prices. According to its filing in PSC Docket No. 21-0677, an average Residential Service 2 (RS-2) customer “using 700 CCF per year will experience an annual increase of approximately 6.03% or $62.30.”
Delmarva Power’s application to change its Gas Cost Rate (GCR), PSC Docket No. 21-0672, also reflected an increase in costs for residential customers. According to its filing, “a typical residential customer using 83 CCF in a winter month would be an increase of $5.64 or 6.1%.” Both rates will become effective, November 1, 2021, subject to refund, while the rates are reviewed by both the Division of the Public Advocate and Public Service Commission Staff.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating accounts for the biggest portion of consumers’ utility bills. Savings tips include turning your thermostat down a few degrees, replacing dirty furnace filters, weather stripping doors and windows, opening shades on sunny days, and closing vents and doors of unoccupied areas.
Delawareans can contact Energize Delaware about its Home Performance with Energy Star, Home Energy Counseling and Check-Up programs. These programs are designed to find areas that may need weatherization and could potentially produce savings.
For additional tips on lowering your gas bill, please contact your local utility. Chesapeake Utilities provides such tips at https://chpkgas.com/for-the-home/energy-savings-tools/lower-your-gas-bill/. Delmarva Power provides such tips at https://www.delmarva.com/Documents/Ways%20to%20Save%20Delmarva_2.20_ADAcomp.pdf.
Low-income Delawareans who are in need of financial assistance to meet their home energy costs may be eligible for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a program administered jointly by the Delaware Division of State Service Centers (DSCC) and Catholic Charities, Inc. Beginning October 1st through March 31st, eligible households can apply to receive grants to help pay for fuel assistance for home heating, which includes electricity, natural gas, kerosene, propane, coal, or wood. Grants are made to both homeowners and renters.
Additionally, there is crisis assistance funding available to help households in crisis during the winter months. Income eligibility for LIHEAP is defined as 200% of the federal poverty level. For more information on LIHEAP or to apply, click here.
If you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic Charities may have Utility Bill Relief Funding available for utility and fuel bill payments. Potential clients should contact Catholic Charities for more information. This funding was made available through Energize Delaware.