LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Projections for this winter's natural gas prices went down from a month ago, but the state Public Service Commission still warns the heating bills will be shockingly higher from last year. The commission says the market price of natural gas is going up, and that will lead to higher heating bills for consumers.
According to the panel, customers of CenterPoint Energy will see a typical monthly bill of $146.83, compared with last year's bill of $130.53. Arkansas Western Gas Co. customers will see a typical monthly bill of $114.32, versus last year's bill of $109.09.
Customers of Arkansas Oklahoma Gas Corp. can expect a monthly bill of $150.61, up from last year's $123.55.
The typical bills, as calculated by the PSC, are based on customers using 10,000 cubic feet per month. The commission developed its estimates based on information from gas companies and on anticipated natural gas prices.
There are steps that consumers can take to reduce the impact of the higher gas bills. Customers can sign up for levelized billing, which spreads payment for a year's worth of gas over 12 months, making for a bill of roughly the same amount each month.
Consumers can also take steps to conserve gas by turning down thermostats at night and when the home will be vacant for more than two hours. They can also add insulation, seal air leaks, clean filters and have a technician make sure the furnace is running properly.