Piedmont Natural Gas Provides Tips to Lower Bills During the Winter Season

Piedmont Natural Gas says a colder winter and families sheltering at home during COVID are resulting in increased customer usage. Combined with a rise in the commodity cost of natural gas over the past few months, customers are experiencing higher bills. The company is urging customers to visit Piedmont's website for energy-saving tips, to sign up for an equal payment plan (EPP), or to find customer assistance programs.

"Typically, families would turn down their thermostats in winter as adults go off to work and children leave for school," said Mia Haynes, vice president of customer care. "With many families staying at home all day, it's a much different situation than last winter. Also, November 2020 was unusually warm, while December brought an abrupt return to more average, seasonal temperatures."

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), temperatures in the southeast region of the U.S. were much warmer than average in November 2020, but winter weather was closer to normal in December 2020 and into January 2021. In North Carolina alone, where most of Piedmont's customers are located, the average temperature decreased abruptly by about 13 degrees Fahrenheit from November to December.

Another factor contributing to higher bills is the commodity cost of natural gas, which fluctuates daily. While the commodity cost of natural gas remained lower for most of 2020, it increased by December 2020, just as the cold snap hit. Piedmont notes that this trend may continue as natural gas futures currently are trending higher. Piedmont passes through to customers the commodity cost of natural gas without any markup from the company.

Haynes continued, "The combination of rising prices, a cold winter and many families staying at home all day can quickly add up, making bills significantly higher than expected. We'd like to help with a few tips to keep bills manageable while keeping customers warm and comfortable."

Piedmont provides several safety tips to keep homes warm and bills low.

 

Energy-saving tips

Seal your air ducts

Make sure the air ducts from your home's furnace and central air conditioner are properly sealed. Ducts that leak into the attic or crawl space can substantially increase your heating and cooling bills.

Seal your home

One of the quickest energy-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal and weather-strip all seams, cracks and openings to the outside. This can save 10% to 20% on your heating and cooling bills.

Smart thermostats

Installing a "smart" or programmable thermostat will reduce your energy use while you are asleep or away.

Water heating

Set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or consider installing an on-demand or tankless water heater that only heats water when you need it.

Consider insulation

Consider whether you need to add insulation to your ceiling, floors and walls. Insulation between the indoors and outdoors reduces energy demand, saving you money while improving the comfort of your home.

Reduce energy use

The first step to reduce energy use in your home is to identify and prioritize energy-saving improvements. This can be accomplished through a certified auditor or by performing your own energy audit.

Piedmont also is offering programs and tools to help customers understand what factors are impacting their natural gas bills and emphasize specific actions they can take to reduce the impacts of high winter usage.

 

Visit the company’s website for more information about Piedmont Natural Gas or the company’s assistance programs.

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