Washington Gas announced today that its customers could expect their upcoming winter heating bills to be similar to those from last year’s winter heating season. The stability in gas prices along with last year’s weather that was relatively close to normal should result in comparable customer bills for the upcoming winter heating season. Prices may vary if colder-than-expected temperatures result in an increased demand for natural gas.

“Outside economic factors, customer usage and unpredictable weather can have an impact on bills and the cost of natural gas during the winter,” said Adrian Chapman, president and chief operating officer at Washington Gas. “In an effort to help protect our customers from seasonal pricing fluctuations, Washington Gas’ natural gas acquisition strategy includes the purchase of a significant portion of our expected winter supply during the summer, at prices that are usually lower, locked in or capped.”

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.

For those customers having difficulty paying their gas bills, Washington Gas recommends the following options:
  • 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.

For information about energy assistance, the budget plan, energy efficiency, safety and more, go to washingtongas.com.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., WGL [NYSE: WGL] is a leading source for clean and efficient energy solutions. Through our affiliates and strategic relationships, the Company offers a diverse set of energy sources including natural gas, wind, and solar as well as a range of energy solutions – generation, storage, transportation, distribution, supply, and efficiency – which serve customers in more than 25 states. WGL has five main operating units: Washington Gas Light Company, a regulated natural gas utility serving approximately 1.1 million customers in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area; Washington Gas Energy Services, Inc., one of the largest natural gas, electricity and green energy suppliers in the Mid-Atlantic; Washington Gas Energy Systems, Inc., a distributed generation and energy efficiency business, offering solar, fuel cell, combined heat and power, and other technologies across the United States; Capitol Energy Ventures Corp., a wholesale energy solutions business, investing in and optimizing natural gas pipelines and storage facilities in the Midwest and Eastern United States; and Hampshire Gas, a natural gas storage business which owns and operates facilities in and around Hampshire County, West Virginia. As product and service innovation are critical for value creation and sustaining growth, we are continuously increasing our assets and investments in targeted clean energy sectors. This strategy supports WGL’s core business, as well as provides opportunity for growth through partnerships and investments. WGL’s diversity is its strength. We are dedicated to the sustainability of our business, the customers and communities we serve, and the environment. To learn more, visit www.wglholdings.com.

Copyright Business Wire 2010