CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE: PNY) issued its annual forecast for winter heating bills today saying that while monthly natural gas use by residential customers is likely to climb during the upcoming November through March winter period, projected natural gas costs remain moderate and should help blunt the impact of colder temperatures on monthly bills. Last year, winter temperatures were significantly warmer than normal, averaging approximately 21 percent warmer than normal throughout the Company's three state service area. With a possible return to colder, more normal winter temperatures, customers are more likely to increase their natural gas consumption and with it, see higher monthly natural gas bills. Natural Gas Costs Significantly Lower Since 2008 Even with the prospect for colder winter temperatures this year, Piedmont Natural Gas said the cost of natural gas remains low relative to just a few years ago. "While we expect that our customers will see higher monthly bills this winter, natural gas costs remain significantly lower than they were back in 2008 when domestic natural gas supplies were just beginning to increase as a result of the discovery and production of onshore shale natural gas," commented Thomas E. Skains, Piedmont Natural Gas Chairman, President, and CEO. "In fact, we believe our residential customers will pay, on average, $150 - $225 less this winter than they did four years ago. This translates into significant savings and energy value for our customers." Company Website a Resource for Energy Saving Tips for Customers For customers who want to learn more about energy savings tips, Piedmont maintains a special section on its website devoted to educating customers about their home's energy usage. Visiting www.piedmontng.com, says Ranelle Warfield, Piedmont's Vice President of Customer Service, could help customers better manage the natural gas they use this winter along with their monthly bills, which Piedmont says could fluctuate anywhere from $6 to $26 more per month during the winter period as a result of normal, colder winter temperatures compared to those seen last year. "There are many steps that customers can take to get a better handle on their energy consumption," she said. "Some, like turning your thermostat down several degrees, save energy, cost nothing, and are simple to do. Others, like making sure windows and doors are properly sealed, only cost a few dollars and are easy to implement. Still other steps, like investing in a programmable thermostat or purchasing higher efficiency natural gas equipment and appliances, may cost a bit more upfront but will save the customer both energy and money over the life of the equipment." For customers who want to know how much energy their home or their appliance uses, the Company has several energy calculator tools on its website as well, noted Warfield. "The energy calculator tools on our website are a great way for customers to see what energy their home actually uses and how they can potentially reduce their consumption and better manage their natural gas bills. These tools also give customers an idea of their home's carbon footprint, something we all have an interest in reducing."