Prices about 60% higher than last year, but help is available

The Wyoming Public Service Commission warns natural gas customers to expect higher prices this heating season and suggests steps customers can take now to keep bills manageable this winter. Natural gas customers may already be seeing higher natural gas charges on their bills, and the impact will grow as temperatures drop.

Natural gas prices have been trending upward, with current average commodity prices in Wyoming about 60% higher than last winter. The increases vary by individual utility company, from as low as 24% to as high as 124%. The upward trend in gas prices translates to bigger gas bills — approximately 28% more on average. For example, the average gas utility bill for a residential customer who used 10 dekatherms a month last winter was approximately $101. This winter, that same customer may expect to pay $129. Again, the $28 increase is an average for Wyoming. Depending on the individual utility, the increase may range from $15 to $48. Your energy bill depends on how much natural gas you use and the rate your utility charges. In general, the more energy you use, the higher your bill will be.

The cost of the natural gas itself is set by market forces that neither the Public Service Commission or your gas utility can control. Foreign and domestic supply and demand, production levels, the amount of gas in storage and weather may drive commodity prices up, resulting in higher customer bills.

You can take conservation measures now to help reduce your natural gas usage to make your home more energy efficient. Affordable conservation measures include checking and changing your furnace filter regularly, making sure you air ducts are clean and free of obstructions, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, lowering your thermostat, and insulating electrical outlets and light switches. Other conservations measures include insulating your home, replacing old appliances and equipment with energy-efficient units, having your furnace inspected and tuned up if necessary, and installation of a programmable thermostat. Many utilities have programs designed to assist their customers with conservation measures. Customers should contact their utility to inquire about available assistance.

If you’re having difficulty paying your utility bill, there are several programs available that provide financial assistance.

Visit www.lieapwyo.org to learn if you qualify for low-income energy, weatherization, and water assistance.

Visit https://dfs.wyo.gov to learn if you qualify for assistance with utility bills through the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) or through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). ERAP program applications will stop and letters of intent are due November 10, 2022, in anticipation of funds running out by early spring so apply quickly if you believe you will have a need.

Wyoming 2-1-1 (https://wy211.communityos.org or dial “211”) maintains a comprehensive database of community resources.

Your utility company may also offer payment plans, budget billing, and other measures.