The Laurens CPW has recently received calls and inquiries concerning the increase in customer's energy bills from natural gas usage. There have also been many posts on Facebook regarding increased heating bills.
According to CPW, one reason for the increased usage was colder weather. The average low temperature in October of last year was 55 degrees. The average low temperature for November of last year was 38 degrees.
In addition to this, natural gas pricing has remained low over the last several years because of high production and a competitive fuel market. Natural gas prices are a function of supply and demand.
According to CPW, increases in natural gas supply generally result in lower natural gas prices and decreases in supply tend to lead to higher prices. The more demand for natural gas, the higher the price and a decrease in demand, results in a lower price.
The Laurens CPW and their customers have enjoyed historically low natural gas prices for the past 6 - 8 years because of increased supply of gas and resulting lower demand.
Over the last several months, the supply for natural gas has gone down and the demand has gone up.
There are many reasons for this, said CPW. The depletion of natural gas reserves in the UK, Europe and Asia has significantly increased the demand for natural gas in these areas and put a strain on US natural gas supply, the world's largest supplier. Soaring high prices for natural gas in the UK, Europe and Asia has increased the US's sale of natural gas to these areas by 42% which leaves less for use in the US.
According to CPW, the US is producing less natural gas today than two years ago due to pressure from the Biden Administration over environmental issues and the use of public lands has been curtailed greatly. The increase in costs for natural gas production are being affected by the increased salaries and pay rates for workers in addition to increases in the prices for steel, sand and chemicals used in fracking for natural gas.
Natural gas pricing has increased 400% from June of 2020 to today and 200% since June of 2021, CPW said in a statement.
The Laurens CPW has been taking steps over the last several years to minimize increases to natural gas prices. They have entered into a procurement agreement for 1/3 of their anticipated supply needs for the next 29 years that locks in discounted pricing resulting in a $71,000 savings during the past 12 months.
The Laurens CPW has replaced miles of old steel gas pipe, some as much as 70 years old, during the past several years which has reduced leaks saving approximately $425,000 every year. They have worked with suppliers to adjust delivery charges saving over $125,000 every year and have modified natural gas purchasing processes, resulting in savings of over $100,000 every year.
How can you control your natural gas usage?
- Weatherize homes and apartments - ensure sufficient insulation levels in the attic, ductwork, walls, and floors and weatherstrip windows and doors.
- Have your HVAC system inspected and tuned once a year.
- Be aware of thermostat settings and its affect on your bill - for every degree higher than the recommended 68-degree setting, the heating bill will go up 3-5%.
- Consider programmable thermostats and have them turned down during the time of the day no one is home.
- Minimize space heater use.
- Close off unused rooms.
- Open your window shades, curtains, or blinds to let the sun in during the day.
- Enroll in the CPW balanced pay plan.