Washington Gas announced today that its customers could expect a 10-20 percent increase in winter heating bills compared with last winter’s bills. The increase is attributed predominantly to a significantly higher consumption forecast, based on normal weather instead of the record warmer-than-normal 2011-2012 winter. The increase is somewhat mitigated by slightly lower forecasted gas prices. Prices may vary if colder-than-expected temperatures result in an increased demand for natural gas.
“In order to assist our customers in managing utility costs, Washington Gas seeks to provide them with a realistic expectation at the beginning of the winter heating season. Last year, we experienced an unusually warm winter resulting in lower demand for natural gas and, in general, lower customer bills,” said Adrian Chapman, president and chief operating officer of Washington Gas. “During the summer we purchase and store a significant portion of our natural gas winter supply, in anticipation of colder weather. Historically, the price for natural gas during the summer is lower than during the winter months, which enables Washington Gas to safeguard customers from the affect of seasonal pricing fluctuations.”
Gas supply costs – the amount Washington Gas pays to acquire natural gas and have the gas delivered to the system – make up approximately 52 percent of the average customer’s heating bill. This price appears on the customer’s bill as the per “therm” charge. As a regulated utility, Washington Gas does not charge customers more than the same price that the company pays for the gas supply. The rest of a customer’s bill consists of distribution costs, taxes or other fees levied by state and local governments.
As colder weather approaches, Washington Gas continues to encourage all customers to prepare their homes for the winter heating season by practicing energy efficiency, including the following low-cost or no-cost tips:
- Change or clean furnace/air filters once a month and schedule an annual furnace or boiler check-up with a licensed professional.
- Caulk and weather strip around doors and windows.
- Install rubber gaskets behind outlet and switch plates.
- Turn the water heater down to warm or low settings, never more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash full loads of laundry and dishes.
- Use cold water for laundry using specially formulated cold-water detergents.
- Consider installing new, high-efficiency appliances.
- Look for the ENERGY STAR energy-efficient product label.
- Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat, which automatically lowers the temperature setting at night and increases the setting during the day.
- The Washington Gas Budget Plan: This plan allows eligible customers to spread the cost of winter heating over the entire year. It helps to minimize the impact of typically higher seasonal bills and provides greater flexibility in managing a household budget. If customers are having difficulty paying winter heating bills, they should call Washington Gas at 703-750-1000 as soon as possible to discuss any concerns or billing issues.
- Customer Choice: This is an option for customers to buy their natural gas from an energy company other than Washington Gas. They can visit washingtongas.com and click on Customer Information then Customer Choice. Regardless of which company sells natural gas to customers, Washington Gas will deliver it and respond to gas emergencies around the clock.
- The Washington Area Fuel Fund (WAFF): Founded in 1983 by Washington Gas, WAFF is a financial assistance program that helps families who do not qualify for, or who have exhausted, government energy assistance. Administered by The Salvation Army, WAFF provides funds for all types of fuel to heat families’ homes in the winter. To date, the program has disbursed over $22 million in funds to help more than 255,000 residents in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region. For more information on WAFF, please visit washingtonareafuelfund.org.