CINCINNATI, Dec. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Duke Energy customers are expected to use more energy to heat their homes – and see higher heating bills – this winter compared to one year ago. That's according to the company's winter heating forecast for the Greater Cincinnati region.
"Temperatures last winter were mild compared to normal, and the cost of natural gas was near record lows," said Jim Henning, president of Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky. "We expect this winter to be colder, which means customers will likely use more natural gas to heat their homes. Combined with higher natural gas prices, our customers should be prepared for higher heating bills this winter."
Customers can expect their monthly heating bills to increase $20-$40 this winter, though some customers could see higher or lower bills depending on a variety of factors. These include actual winter temperatures, personal preferences, the efficiency of their homes and more.
Winter forecast: Colder than normal
Duke Energy's team of meteorologists forecasts average winter temperatures to be about 2 degrees lower than normal this winter in Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky. By comparison, last winter was about 4.5 degrees warmer than normal for the region.
Natural gas prices are up year-over-year
In addition, customers who heat their homes with natural gas should expect higher heating bills due to the wholesale price of natural gas, which is expected to be higher compared to last year – though still low by historical standards.
Duke Energy purchases natural gas on behalf of its customers in Kentucky, as well as Ohio customers who do not choose to receive natural gas supply from a competitive retail natural gas service provider. The company's actual cost of natural gas supply is passed through to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis with no added markup.
"Natural gas prices fluctuate based on a number of factors – similar to the per-gallon cost of gasoline to fill up a car," said Henning. "We work to keep these supply costs low by securing natural gas under a variety of pricing and term options."
Ways to manage winter heating bills
Duke Energy offers many free programs and tools to help customers better understand and manage their monthly energy expenses.
- Budget Billing gives customers better control over their energy spending by establishing predictable monthly payments.
- Our online savings calculators help customers understand how their homes use energy – and how they can potentially reduce their consumption and better manage their heating bills.
- The company sends High Bill Alerts to customers when adverse weather may lead to a significant increase in energy costs.
Tips to save energy
Duke Energy offers the following tips to help customers save on their winter energy bills:
- Seal leaks: Seal the air leaks around cut-throughs for pipes, gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets; add caulk or weatherstripping to seal doors and windows.
- Maintain your heating system: Schedule service for your heating system and replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed.
- Insulate: Install the proper amount of insulation in exterior walls, roofs or ceilings, and floors above cold spaces. If you do not currently have insulation in one of these areas, installing insulation will cut your energy bills dramatically.
- Cover drafty windows: Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration. Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
- Lower the thermostat: You can save as much as 10 percent a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7 to 10 degrees from its normal setting for 8 hours a day. In the winter, set the thermostat to 68 while you're awake and set it lower while you're asleep or away from home.
Duke Energy partners with local agencies to help customers stay warm. Please visit our website or call 800.544.6900 to learn more about the special assistance programs available to our Ohio and Kentucky customers.
In addition, we realize financial emergencies may occur from time to time. Customers who receive a disconnection notice and cannot pay before the disconnection date are encouraged to call us at 800.544.6900 to learn about setting up a payment arrangement.
About Duke Energy Ohio/Kentucky
Duke Energy Ohio/Kentucky's operations provide electric service to about 840,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in a 3,000-square-mile service area and natural gas service to approximately 525,000 customers.
Duke Energy, one of the largest electric power holding companies in the United States, supplies and delivers electricity to approximately 7.4 million customers in the Southeast and Midwest, representing a population of approximately 24 million people. The company also distributes natural gas to more than 1.5 million customers in the Carolinas, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Its commercial and international businesses operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing renewable energy portfolio.
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is an S&P 100 Stock Index company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com.
The Duke Energy News Center serves as a multimedia resource for journalists and features news releases, helpful links, photos and videos. Hosted by Duke Energy, illumination is an online destination for stories about remarkable people, innovations, and community and environmental topics. It also offers glimpses into the past and insights into the future of energy.
Media contact: Lee Freedman
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SOURCE Duke Energy