SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – National Grid’s upstate New York customers are expected to see lower natural gas bills for the coming winter season compared to last year, assuming a typical winter. The lower bills are based on forecast decreases in wholesale supply prices during the Nov. 1 through March 31 winter heating season. Electricity bills are forecast to be slightly higher compared to last winter.
“Every fall we provide our customers with a winter bill outlook to help them plan and to encourage them to take advantage of bill management and energy efficiency programs,” said John Bruckner, National Grid’s New York president. “This is the ideal time for consumers to assess their energy profile and take simple steps to control energy costs.”
Residential Natural Gas Bill Forecast
The company forecasts total residential natural gas bills from Nov 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020 to be approximately $466 based on 719 therms of usage, or about $102 (18 percent) less than last winter, which was based on typical upstate New York average usage of 713 therms. The forecast is based on slightly higher therm usage because 2020 is a leap year.
Residential Electricity Bill Forecast
Compared to last winter, National Grid is forecasting total monthly residential electricity bills to be approximately $3.50 higher (about 4.5 percent), 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.
Energy bills are a combination of supply prices, which are based largely on market conditions, 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. Customers can choose to have National Grid purchase energy supply on their behalf, or they can purchase their gas and electricity from an energy services company.
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. The company does not profit from purchasing supply on the customer’s behalf. Customers who contract with an energy services company will pay supply prices agreed to with that supplier.
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 save $23 a month and earn a rebate from National Grid.
- 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 or 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, where site visitors can learn about rebates on Wi-Fi thermostats, lighting, water-saving products, and more. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority also offers tips and programs.
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.