What utility companies are offering to help with higher bills expected this winter
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - As natural gas prices surge, many companies blame the intense winter storm in 2021 and the lack of supply.
Regardless of the cause, this means utility bills this winter are expected to be much higher than the previous year, with estimates ranging from 30% to 50% more.
Utility companies in the Ozarks are doing what they can to work with residents and their respective budgets.
Spire Energy and City Utilities offer programs that average your 12-month usage to keep your bill the same month to month. Each year, the company would reevaluate your use and adjust as needed.
“With Budget Billing, we take your last year’s usage, all the usage you had the last 12 months, divide it by 12, and average the bill amount, and then that’s what we charge you moving forward. So you know exactly what amount you’re going to pay every month, and there are no surprises,” explained Christian Gagliano, the Vice President of Customer Experiences at Spire Energy.
Customers who have less than 12 months of usage can still enroll in this program, but they will use the previous owner’s usage to average the payment.
City Utilities offers ‘Project Share,’ which relies on monthly donations from other customers to help offset the cost for those with tighter budgets.
In addition, City Utilities offers rebates on various methods to improve efficiency.
“We offer a rebate on additional insulation, 20 percent up to 300 dollars. We also just announced that we’re going to offer a 50 dollar rebate on up to two heating units, so up to 100 dollars if you have two systems to make sure your heating system is tuned up, functioning properly, and functioning safely,” said a spokesperson from City Utilities, Joel Alexander.
Payment plans are also an option with both of the companies mentioned. This can lower the amount over several weeks to make the payments more manageable.
“We have payment arrangements available to help you spread out a bill. You can even do it yourself on your online profile,” Gagliano said.
There are other ways to reduce gas usage besides reaching out to your utility provider.
Using an away setting on a “smart thermostat” can significantly reduce your usage when you leave home.
Winterizing your home is also essential to ensure you’re heating your home efficiently. This includes caulking, insulation, draft guards, replacing filters, flushing the water heater, and more.
Communication is key. Your provider can’t help you if they are unaware of your financial situation. If you have concerns about the upcoming winter season, contact your provider to see what your options could be.
“I think we all know going into this winter, looking at the market of natural gas, it’s not very good right now. We want our customers to know we’re doing everything we can to control the cost on our end. It’s not a rate increase by any means, but it is a cost in the fuel increase. It is going to be more expensive this winter. We’re all in this together, and we’ll get through this by helping our customers and their needs,” said Alexander.
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