For Immediate Release
BALTIMORE (Nov. 7, 2014) – As the colder winter months quickly approach for central Maryland customers, Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) today provided its forecast for natural gas bills, while also encouraging all customers to visit bge.com/WinterReady to get tips and information on preparing their homes and families for the winter heating season.
Assuming normal winter weather temperatures and projected stability in natural gas commodity prices, BGE residential natural gas customers can expect their total gas bills to be approximately 13 percent lower than last winter. BGE estimates that its natural gas commodity price will be approximately 56 cents per therm this winter heating season, compared to 57 cents per therm last year. A return to normal weather as compared to last winter’s colder-than-normal weather would reduce the average total winter gas bill for residential customers who purchase their natural gas commodity from BGE by about $82 over the five-month winter heating season (Nov. 1, 2014 - March 31, 2015). Customers’ bills will vary, dependent upon actual use, furnace condition and weather conditions.
“Overall, we continue to see natural gas commodity prices that are more than 16 percent lower than they were five years ago,” said Mark D. Case, vice president of strategy and regulatory affairs for BGE. “While we cannot control market conditions affecting the price of natural gas supply, our acquisition strategy helps limit the impact of any rising prices, which may occur during the colder months when demand is increasing. BGE purchases and stores approximately 43 percent of our natural gas supply in the summer and purchases another 7 percent at fixed prices.”
During the winter months, heating systems typically account for more than 40 percent of customers’ energy bills. When temperatures are extreme, usage will increase, even if the thermostat remains at a set temperature. Heating and cooling systems must work harder to maintain the set temperature during periods of extreme weather. Without taking steps to reduce usage during these times, energy bills will reflect additional usage and will likely be higher than in months when temperatures are more moderate. Customers who heat with older model electric heat pumps are especially vulnerable to sharp increases in usage when the temperature drops below freezing because auxiliary heating, which uses more energy, may be activated. With many units, auxiliary heating is activated even before the temperature dips to below freezing.
“While colder temperatures are the primary driver for increased energy use during the heating season, there are many other contributing factors, some of which may not be as obvious,” said Case. “When it’s bitter cold outside, many families spend more time at home, especially on weekends, when they are also more likely to use stoves and ovens more frequently, spend more time on computers and electronic video games and watch more television. While we can’t control the weather, customers can control how they use energy, even during periods of extreme temperatures. We encourage customers to take the steps now to prepare their homes and think of ways they can save energy and money this winter heating season.”
The WinterReady section on bge.com is specifically designed to help customers weather cold temperatures. The following are steps that all customers can take to reduce energy consumption and lower heating bills:
Even with lower gas commodity prices and energy efficiency programs, BGE recognizes that there are some customers who may still be challenged to pay their heating bills. For qualifying customers, financial and billing assistance is also available.
Customers may also consider BGE’s Budget Billing program, which evens out payments over a 12-month period so customers are not as affected by increases in usage triggered by extreme weather conditions.
BGE encourages customers not to wait until they are in crisis to ask for help but rather to contact their local Office of Home Energy Programs online or by calling 1-800-352-1446 to apply for energy assistance before receiving a turn-off notice or having service denied.
Customers are encouraged to visit bge.com and www.bgesmartenergy.com for more energy-saving tips.
BGE, headquartered in Baltimore, is Maryland’s largest gas and electric utility, delivering power to more than 1.2 million electric customers and more than 655,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland. The company’s approximately 3,400 employees are committed to the safe and reliable delivery of gas and electricity, as well as enhanced energy management, conservation, environmental stewardship and community assistance. BGE is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with 2013 revenues of approximately $24.9 billion. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.