Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) offered useful tips to help customers save on natural gas usage and utility bills this winter. Cooler temperatures that began early this week will continue through the weekend, especially during the evening hours. During colder weather, customers on average experience a three to seven times increase in their natural gas usage and corresponding increases in utility bills as heating systems work harder to keep the temperature warm. In addition, this winter natural gas prices are higher across the country due to an increased demand for fuel.
SoCalGas offers energy-saving tips and tools such as rebates, bill discounts, and customer assistance programs to help families and businesses conserve energy and save money this winter. SoCalGas’ energy efficiency incentives and programs saved customers $44 million on their utility bills and reduced 211,000 metric tons of green-house gas emissions, enough energy to power 100,000 homes in Southern California for a year.
“This winter, we are seeing a potential for an upward rise in natural gas wholesale market prices nationwide, with natural gas prices much higher this October compared to last year,” said Brian Prusnek, director of customer programs and assistance at SoCalGas. “SoCalGas continues to use a suite of tools to secure the best possible prices for the natural gas we purchase on behalf of our residential and small business customers. Taking advantage of SoCalGas energy-saving programs and following some simple conservation tips can help customers manage their monthly utility bills.”
Heating can be one of the top energy expenses during the winter, accounting for more than 50 percent of a customer’s total natural gas bills. Additionally, water heaters can account for 25 percent of natural gas use and can be significantly impacted during colder months as they work longer and harder to heat the colder water.
Customers can take these steps to reduce natural gas usage and lower energy costs:
- Set the thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and 55 at night, if health permits. Lowering the thermostat three to five degrees can save up to 10 percent on heating costs.
- Clean or replace furnace filters according to manufacturer recommendations.
- Test air ducts for leaks. Leaky ducts can cost between 10 to 30 percent in heating costs.
- Install proper caulking and weather-stripping; this can save roughly 10 to 15 percent on heating bills.
- Fix leaky faucets and pipes. Hot water leaks cause increased demand on the water heater which increases natural gas use. One drop of water per second can waste 500 gallons of hot water per year.
As a reminder, SoCalGas does not control the market price of natural gas and no additional profits are earned from higher natural gas prices. SoCalGas uses a suite of tools to secure the best possible prices for the natural gas we purchase on behalf of our residential and small business customers. Commodity costs are determined by the broader market and passed on directly to customers.
Find more ways to save on natural gas bills, including SoCalGas’ energy saving tool – Ways to Save, a free service which helps create a personalized savings plan that offers a household energy analysis, customized energy-efficiency recommendations, bill comparisons and energy usage comparisons at Socalgas.com/waystosave.
The utility also encourages individuals who are experiencing hardship to explore the many bill payment or assistance programs options offered by SoCalGas or call 1-800-427-2200. Customers may be eligible for one of many assistance programs including:
- California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE): Eligible participants can save 20 percent on their natural gas bill. Socalgas.com/CARE
- Energy Savings Assistance Program (ESAP): Eligible customers can save energy and money through professional home improvements at no cost. Socalgas.com/Improvements
- Residential Advanced Clean Energy Program (RES DI): Eligible customers residing in single-family homes can receive a complimentary walkthrough energy assessment and installation of energy technologies to help conserve and lower energy usage.
- Arrearage Management Plan (AMP): Eligible customers can apply to have their past due balance forgiven. Learn more at www.socalgas.com/Forgiveness.