FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) NIPSCO gas customers can expect to see bills that will be among the lowest in a decade if the utility's predictions are accurate.
For the five-month winter heating season which runs from November 1 to March 31, NIPSCO's average residential customer using a total of 624 therms could expect to pay approximately $438. Last winter that bill totaled $440, or an average of $87 a month.
"Every year we look at weather predictions, market forecast, supply trends and storage opportunities that we will have to really set that price," Jill Perillo, the public affairs manager at NIPSCO, said.
"Market prices for natural gas continue to hold at historically low levels thanks in large part to plentiful domestic resources," said NIPSCO CEO Jim Stanley.
Perillo said NIPSCO expects its customers to use more natural gas this year, compared to the mild winter a year ago.
"We had an unseasonable warm weather last year," she said. "So although we predict a little bit of a decrease in the overall cost, we expect customers will be using more this winter."
Customers who might have saved on their gas bill last winter, might have spent that money already, paying to run their air conditioner during the hot and dry summer.
"It was up there," Michael Cooper, a NIPSCO customer, said. "It was pretty steep."
However, they're encouraged to see their gas bill won't go up this winter, even if the winter months are more like a typical winter in the region.
"It's good to hear that it ain't going up," Cooper said. "Every penny helps."
While NIPSCO's rates will remain flat, the company is still offering several billing options.
The following is a list of some of NIPSCO's billing options:
- Payment Assistance Programs: Based on income levels, customers may qualify to receive state and federal utility assistance dollars as well as support funds from separate NIPSCO programs by visiting their local community action agency.
- BudgetPlan: A free service to all NIPSCO customers to help manage their monthly energy bills by spreading out gas costs over an entire year.
- NIPSCO Choice Program: Gives customers an opportunity to choose an alternative natural gas supplier for their home or business. Customers can purchase gas from an alternative supplier, but NIPSCO is responsible for maintaining the pipeline that delivers the natural gas.
- DependaBill and Price Protection Service (PPS):DependaBill provides a fixed monthly bill with no annual reconciliation, while the PPS option allows customers to fix or cap their per-unit cost of natural gas.
More information can be found at NIPSCO.com/BillingPayment .
The U.S. Energy Department recommends the following to help keep heating costs low:
- For every one degree lower on your thermostat, you can save an average of one percent ony our bill.
- Think of the sun as a heater and window drapes as a blanket. Keep drapes open during the day and closed at night.
- Keep air vents clean and uncovered so heat can flow throughout your home.
- Shut off kitchen and bathroom fans when they are not needed.
- Lower the temperature of your water heater. Water heaters typically account for 18-percent of your utility bill.
- Keep furnace filters changed regularly.
- Check for air leaks through windows and doors.
More energy tips at Energy.gov .
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