Archive for Monday, September 21, 2009

Natural gas heating bills expected to be much lower this winter

The price of natural gas has dropped and the heat bills this winter should follow suit. The money people can save on heating should give some relief in the down economy.

September 21, 2009


Preparing your home for winter

• Make sure your attic has a minimum of 6 inches of insulation — and 10 to 12 inches is preferable.

• Consider replacing older windows that allow air drafts.

• Install weather-stripping along cracks at windows and doors and water-flow restrictors and aerators for showerheads and faucets.

• Clean your furnace filter, and prior to heating season have a professional check your furnace.

• Energy Star recommends setting your thermostat to 70 degrees regularly but down at least eight degrees during the day if no one is home and overnight while sleeping.

• More tips are available at and

Source: Black Hills Energy and Energy Star

With the wholesale price of natural gas about 70 percent lower than its peak in July 2008, Lawrence residents likely will see a huge relief in their heating bill this winter.

“We purchased gas for this winter in about May, and prices have been going down,” Curt Floerchinger, a Black Hills Energy spokesman, said Monday. “In fact, they reached a seven-year low recently, and we’ve been purchasing all along since May at those lower prices.”

He said storage levels of gas are at an all-time high, mainly because the recession has reduced natural gas demand. And recent discoveries of shale gas have helped boost supply.

“The savings could be significant if prices remain low,” said Ivan Vancas, the Black Hills vice president of operations for Kansas and Colorado natural gas operations.

Despite a prediction of lower heating costs, social service agencies are preparing to help area residents pay bills because of the effect of the recession and the high unemployment rate.

“I’m sure that more people will have need because the economy is different,” said Vicki Penner, president of Warm Hearts of Douglas County Inc., which provides heating bill assistance beginning Jan. 1 to qualifying families.

Warm Hearts helped 430 families last year, 454 families in 2008 and 357 families in 2007, said Linda Lassen, program director for Penn House.

Floerchinger said the company has seen about the same number of people needing assistance on their bills, but he said if families run into trouble it’s better for them to contact the company before their bill comes due to explore payment options.


Tammy Copp-Barta 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm sure they'll be requesting some sort of hike soon to recoup their losses like Westar does about every 3 months ..

Bill Griffith 8 years, 7 months ago

lawrenceks66-the price of natural gas is simply a pass-through cost to the consumer as the local gas company does not make a return on it. This is different than the way the investor-owned utilities are structured.

LadyJ 8 years, 7 months ago

So the supplier will raise the price to Black hills to cover their losses, either way our rates will go up to make up for less gas usage.

usesomesense 8 years, 7 months ago

Black hills is in the business of making money.
When articles like this come out I often wonder if it just gets people to put off things like sealing up windows, adding insulation, installing programmable thermostats and just plain old watching the thermostat. Besides, from the looks of my unrelenting electric bills (thanks to legislation that will allow that bill to continue to rise as long as Westar continues to make token gestures to reduce emissions) we'll be lucky if it's a wash..... Besides, according to the article a few weeks ago about solar activity it's going to be an extra cold winter (I know, we've been hearing that for years) - so a couple of months into it I'm sure all of their reserves will be used up and they'll be buying it at a record high price....

rcr 8 years, 7 months ago

"With the wholesale price of natural gas about 70 percent lower than its peak in July 2008, Lawrence residents likely will see a huge relief in their heating bill this winter."

Any bets on how much of that 70 percent savings are they actually going to pass on to the consumer?

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 7 months ago

Yay! I think EVERYONE could probably use a little break on that. It may be the cheapest way to heat your home this winter, but CHEAP isn't as CHEAP as it used to be!!

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 7 months ago

Hey! I love the new comment counter and how it shows the name of the last person to post!! This could present a little bit of a problem as we get close to the end. You may see all the die-hards racing each other to the last post. I can't wait to see this!!!

Blessed4x 8 years, 7 months ago

"rcr (Anonymous) says…

Any bets on how much of that 70 percent savings are they actually going to pass on to the consumer?"

Actually, we are on the equal pay system to help smooth out the payments which can be quite large in the winter at our house. Our payments reset in Sept and our monthly bill went from $125/mo to $87/mo. That is HUGE! Now I have no doubts that this will be "corrected" and next years payments will skyrocket, but for the here and now, I'm enjoying it!

Danimal 8 years, 7 months ago

This is another thing that I'll have to see to believe. I think an equally believable headline would be "Wal-Mart Considers Moving Factories Back to US."

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