Charlotte-based Piedmont Natural Gas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, said the upcoming winter is likely to be significantly colder than last year.
The forecast covers the period from November through March and applies to residential customers in Piedmont’s three-state service area of North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Last year’s winter was approximately 20 percent warmer than normal throughout the company’s service area, Piedmont officials said. Colder weather typically increases the amount of natural gas that a residential customer consumes.
The company’s forecast follows the Energy Information Administration’s recent Winter Fuels Outlook in projecting significantly colder winter weather compared with the previous winter, increased energy consumption, and higher monthly energy costs.
Piedmont’s forecast estimates that its average residential customer’s monthly natural gas bill will increase by approximately $20 to $30 per month, or from $100 to $150 over the upcoming winter period.
The total winter period bill for Piedmont’s average residential customer is expected to range from $430 to $550; the EIA outlook projects average household winter heating fuel expenditures for the Southern region to be approximately $545 for the upcoming winter.
Residential customers could see higher or lower monthly bills than predicted depending on actual winter weather.
In addition to the expectation for a colder winter this year, the Piedmont forecast also notes that the wholesale cost of natural gas is higher relative to last winter and will contribute to higher monthly natural gas bills for the average residential customer.
Piedmont passes on the wholesale cost of natural gas, which is market-based and can fluctuate up or down, to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis with no added markup.
Consumer Tips: For customers who want to learn more about energy-saving tips, Piedmont maintains a special section on its website devoted to educating customers about their home’s energy usage.
Going to www.piedmontng.com could help customers better manage the natural gas they use this winter, along with their monthly bills.
Energy- saving tips include steps that are simple to do such as turning the thermostat down a few degrees and making sure windows and doors are properly sealed.
Still other steps, like investing in a programmable thermostat or purchasing higher-efficiency natural gas equipment and appliances, may cost a bit more up front, but will save the customer both energy and money over the life of the equipment.
Piedmont also has several energy calculator tools on its website. The tools provide customers with a way to see what energy their home actually uses and how they can potentially reduce their consumption and better manage their natural gas bills.