(NEXSTAR) – Americans busy cleaning leaves from gutters and protecting their pipes may want to add something else to do before winter hits – brace for a spike in heating costs.
On Tuesday, the Energy Information Administration (EIA), a statistical agency with the Department of Energy, say that Residential and commercial natural gas prices hit multiyear highs in 2022, with prices surging to roughly double their 2021 costs within months.
“It looks like we will continue to see relatively high natural gas prices in the US,” Harrison Fell, senior research fellow at Columbia University’s Center for Global Energy Policy, said. to The Hill. “We will see higher bills for many customers across the US”
In September, a study by the Association of National Energy Assistance Directors found that heating costs were projected to rise, on average, 17.2% over the past winter, the second year in a row a huge cost increase.
Mark Wolfe, executive director of the energy nonprofit, said during a recent interview with CBS that the scorching summer heat is partly to blame, as natural gas is used to create the electricity we rely on to cool our homes. Further tightening of the market was the war in Ukraine and subsequent US exports to European countries scrambling to replace Russian gas.
“For people using heating oil, it’s set globally and oil prices are going up overall,” Wolfe said. “It’s gone down a bit now… but it’s still higher than last year. So the impact is very significant, there’s a lot of pain.”
Wolfe said that low- and middle-income families – or roughly half of the US – are suffering as inflation and historically high gas prices drive up the cost of basic goods.
Tips to lower your heating bill
When it comes to lowering heating costs, there are several ways to reduce the bill.
Wolfe recommends that your heating and cooling systems be tuned now before the company gets busy, think of every possible way you can keep the thermostat low, use a caulk or other sealant to seal air leaks in the home, and check with your local utility for any incentive programs for increase the energy efficiency of your home.
The Department of Energy recommends a “whole home system” that treats homes as interdependent energy systems – insulation, air sealing, efficient appliances and other elements to reduce costs and increase comfort. You should check with your local government as you may be able to take advantage of the subsidy.
If redesigning your home’s heating and cooling system isn’t an option, Energy.gov has a few other recommendations:
- Keep your thermostat as low as comfortable and even lower while sleeping or before leaving the house
- Clean/replace furnace air filter as recommended
- Clean warm air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators as needed and make sure they are not blocked
- Remove trapped air from hot water radiators once or twice a season; if unsure about how to perform this task, contact a professional.
- Place the heat-resistant radiator reflector between the outer wall and the radiator.
- Turn off kitchen, bathroom, and other fans within 20 minutes after you finish cooking or showering; when replacing the fan, consider installing a high-efficiency, low-noise model.
- During winter, keep the curtains and blinds on south-facing windows open during the day to allow sunlight into your home and close at night to reduce any chill you might feel from a cold window.