CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE: PNY) released its annual winter forecast today for residential customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The Company is projecting that the wholesale cost of natural gas will be modestly higher this winter and that monthly natural gas bills will on average be $5 to $7 higher per month for Piedmont's typical residential customer over the five month November through March winter period. In 2012, the wholesale cost of natural gas fell to its lowest point in nearly 10 years following the 2011-2012 winter period that was significantly warmer than normal. The wholesale cost of natural gas has increased since then as demand for the affordable and clean-burning energy source has increased. Piedmont's forecast assumes that weather, the primary driver of a customer's actual usage, will be normal this winter. Natural Gas Costs Remain Significantly Lower Than 2008 Even with the projection of modestly higher wholesale natural gas costs, the Company said that the estimated cost of natural gas service for the average residential customer this winter will remain 20 to 25 percent lower than the winter of 2008-2009, saving the typical residential customer $150 to $160 in energy costs. Company Website a Resource for Energy Saving Tips for Customers For customers who want to learn more about energy savings tips, Piedmont maintains a separate 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 energy bills. "There are many steps that customers can take to control their energy consumption," she said. "Some, like turning your thermostat down several degrees saves energy, costs nothing, and is easy to do. Others, like making sure windows and doors are properly sealed only cost a few dollars. 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." The Company's website also provides consumers with several energy calculator tools. Commenting further, Warfield said, "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 monthly bills. These tools also give customers an idea of their home's carbon footprint, something we all have an interest in reducing."