Higher fuel costs could lead to high utility bills this winter

As natural gas prices continue to increase, the milder weather of October is a great time to consider weatherization of your home according to Customer Service Manager Karolyn Surgent with the City of Alexandria.

“We anticipate energy costs will be higher than usual this winter so we are encouraging residents to take steps now to make their homes more energy efficient,” Surgent said. “Simple things like adding weather stripping and caulking around windows can make a big difference and will pay off with reduced energy bills. Everything you can do to keep the warm air in and the cold air out will reduce the workload on your heating system, and help lower your utility costs.”

The City of Alexandria has seen more than a 228 percent increase in the price of natural gas in the past year which will ultimately have some effect on customer bills. The city uses natural gas to produce electricity and provides retail gas service to residents.

“There are a variety of factors that affect fuel prices, including natural gas production, net imports and storage inventory levels. Overall, large supplies tend to pull prices down while low supplies tend to push prices up,” explained Interim Utility Director Richard Williamson. “For the first time in several years we are looking at a low supply of natural gas. We saw higher than normal demand this summer, particularly in the northeast. As a result, less gas than usual was put into storage and that’s pushing rates up. On July 1, 2020, our rate was $1.69. On October 1 it was up to $5.55.”

“The city averages the cost of fuel to produce electricity over six months to help even out spikes on customer’s bills, but the most recent increases have been drastic,” Surgent said. “As a result, customer’s bills will creep higher over time. That is why we are encouraging residents to take steps now to fill gaps where cold air can leak in, use energy efficient LED bulbs, take advantage of fire places and other steps to decrease their electric and gas demand this winter.”

For more information about how to prepare for winter, see our “Power of You” energy conservation tips at https://www.cityofalexandriala.com/powerofyou